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Tips for managing disability leave

Managing an employee’s absence from work is an important part of the employment relationship.

Employee absence can be managed effectively through clear communication between the manager and employee. This will reduce any pressure on the manager, the team and the employee who is absent from work.

The following tips can be used by managers as a guide on how to deal with disability leave:

  • Make sure that discussions and approval for disability leave are documented so that it is clear for both parties exactly what has been granted and the conditions that apply
  • Where appropriate, obtain Occupational Health advice and guidance, especially when agreeing disability leave for members of staff undergoing courses of treatment (e.g. it may not be appropriate to use disability leave if the treatment leaves the individual unwell for a longer than estimated period of time and they are not fit for work following the treatment)
  • Ensure a return-to-work discussion is undertaken with the member of staff after their disability leave to ensure they are fully fit to return to work. They may require further reasonable workplace adjustments for a short period of time (e.g. arranging for them to start work gradually, working at home before they come back into work or restrict some duties for a day or two)
  • Discuss any existing reasonable adjustments with the member of staff when they return to work, in case their needs have changed during their absence
  • The manager and employee should review any concerns for either party in liaison with HR and Occupational Health to determine the next steps to best support the individual. This should take into account the need to balance each individual’s circumstances with the needs of the organisation
  • Each case should be considered on its own merits, taking a holistic view of the most reasonable and appropriate adjustments for that individual
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