Introduction to this document

Meeting request following a period of long-term incapacity

Once you’ve obtained a medical report, the next stage is to arrange a meeting with your absent employee to discuss its contents and any recommendations that it makes. In particular, you should explore when the employee might be fit to return to work and what adjustments you could make to work arrangements or practices in order to enable them to return.

A detailed discussion

Once you have properly informed yourself of the employee’s current state of health and the prognosis, you should consider the requirements of your business, the employee’s length of service and past sickness record and whether they could be offered alternative work or other duties more suitable to their state of health. You must also consult meaningfully with the employee before taking any decision on whether or not to dismiss. This will normally necessitate having at least two meetings following receipt of the medical report. Use the Meeting Request Following a Period of Long-term Incapacity to invite the employee to a first meeting. At this initial meeting, you should discuss in detail the contents of the medical report and the reasonable adjustments that could be made to enable them to return to work, such as alternative employment, (this could be permanent, temporary or on a trial basis), a phased return or a reallocation of those particular job duties that the employee is not yet fit (or may never be fully fit) to perform. Our letter has an optional paragraph for use where the medical report specifically states that the employee is now fit, or will shortly be fit, to make a phased return to work. However, if the medical report is definitive that the employee will not be fit to return to work in any capacity whatsoever in the foreseeable future and there are no reasonable adjustments that could be made, then, in the light of the medical evidence, you should be able to have just one meeting with the employee (see below), in which case you will need to combine this letter with the Notification of Long-term Incapacity Meeting.

Not fit to work

Obviously, the aim of this meeting is to try and agree an action plan (and a timetable) to enable the employee to return to work. However, the outcome of this meeting may be that you take the view, based on the medical evidence and the employee’s own comments, that they are not fit to return in any capacity in the foreseeable future. In this case, you may then wish to consider dismissal. However, the dismissal of an employee on the grounds of long-term ill-health should only be a last resort action after all other options have been fully considered and discussed with the employee and after all reasonable adjustments have been made to support the employee’s continuing employment. Thus, the purpose of this first meeting is to ensure that you have properly reached the stage when you can fairly contemplate possible dismissal.