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How to manage cover for long-term sickness absence

Author: Kathy Daniels


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  • Where an employee is absent because of illness, in deciding appropriate cover, consider the likely length of the absence.
  • If the employee's absence is likely to be relatively short, consider asking the employee's colleagues to cover their duties.
  • If the employee's absence is likely to last for several months, bear in mind that using agency temps for cover is likely to be more appropriate.
  • Take into account that, in some circumstances, it may be appropriate to recruit a fixed-term employee to cover the absent employee's work, but remember that, when the fixed-term contract comes to an end, this will constitute a dismissal for the purposes of a claim for redundancy pay or unfair dismissal.
  • Consider retaining the temporary cover for a period after the employee has returned to work to allow a handover or a phased return to work.