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Managing long-term sickness absence

Author: Dr Paul Nicholson


  • A long-term sickness absence policy that sets out the organisation's procedures for dealing with employees who are absent from work for long periods due to ill health ensures a consistent approach is adopted for all. (See Policy on managing long-term sickness absence)
  • All absence should be accurately recorded. Employees should provide evidence of their need to be off work for an extended period of time, which is most likely to be from a fit note. (See Recording absence)
  • It is important to keep in touch with the absent employee in order to understand their health condition and to provide the necessary support to facilitate their return to work. (See Keeping in touch with the employee)
  • Organisations may need to obtain a medical report and/or a report from an occupational health adviser, in order to understand the employee's condition and enable them to return to work. (See Obtaining medical information)
  • Prior to their return, the organisation should agree a return-to-work plan with the employee, including details of any workplace adjustments required. (See Return-to-work arrangements)
  • In some circumstances the employee will be unable to return to work, and the organisation should consider other options. (See Alternative outcomes following long-term sickness absence)