Introduction to this document

Letter requesting home visit with sick employee

Under the terms of our sickness absence policy, you can request a home visit with a long-term sick employee. To enable you to do this, use our letter. When making home visits, be sensitive, don’t try to bully the employee into committing to a return-to-work date and never discuss the possibility of dismissal.

Letter wording

Our Letter Requesting Home Visit with Sick Employee requests a home visit with the employee, and it refers to the provisions of the Sickness Absence Policy, which permits such requests to be made. If you don’t have a policy provision, you can still request a home visit with a sick employee but you’ll need to delete that particular sentence. In any event, the employee needs to consent to the visit, so our letter makes that clear. It also goes on to provide that you would propose to visit the employee at home in future at agreed regular intervals. As for the purpose of the visit, our letter includes a list of matters that may be discussed, including the employee’s absence record and progress in terms of their return to health, recent and forthcoming events in the workplace, sick pay, and what reasonable adjustments you may be able to make to work arrangements, practices or premises to enable them to return to work in some capacity, for example on a phased basis or into an alternative job role. If an employee refuses your request to visit them at home, you can’t force them to agree and neither should you just turn up at their home anyway. Instead, suggest alternative methods of keeping in touch, such as email, and consider obtaining medical evidence.

Avoiding capability issues

When making home visits to long-term sick employees, be sensitive to their health needs - you’re not going there because you don’t believe they’re sick, but to discuss their health, what’s been happening at work in their absence and what you can do to hopefully assist them in returning to work. So, think about any reasonable adjustments that might need to be made for the purposes of the visit, such as ensuring they can take frequent breaks and keeping the meeting short. You also need to ensure that the meeting isn’t viewed as intimidating by the employee, particularly if they’re absent with a mental illness. Don’t question the employee too much about their illness or medical condition or pressurise them into giving an indicative date of when they’re likely to return to work. In addition, don’t turn up heavy-handed with a team of managers/HR staff. It’s better if the meeting is between the employee and their line manager and one member of HR, but do also allow them to have a companion present, such as a family member or trusted work colleague (and our letter covers that). You also need to be careful not to discuss the possibility of dismissal on incapacity grounds. An incapacity dismissal may be deemed unfair if it transpires that capability meetings have been taking place on informal home visits. Meetings to discuss matters relating to the employee’s future employment need to be convened properly. So, stick to exploring whether there’s anything you can do to aid the employee in returning to work. Your aim of the home visit should be to help the employee - it’s not the first stage in a capability procedure that could lead to dismissal.