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Wednesday 28 September 2016
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A receptionist has been on and off sick leave for several months. Can we terminate her services?

Question in full:

Where do we, as an employer, stand when a receptionist has been on and off sick leave since February and has informed us that she will be off for another two weeks? (She has probably only worked two and a half weeks since February). To complicate the issue, her job description is going to change as we are using IT more and more, so need to give her new work, which will actually make her more efficient. She has informed me that she finds it difficult to walk into the building and cannot manage any stairs with the premises.

1) Can we terminate her services?

2)
a) Should we offer her the new job description and give her time to respond to the changes (these would also bring her job description in line with those used for other GP practices)?
b) What happens if she does not agree to some of the new requirements, as a result of which we would have a shortfall in terms of reception staff?

Answer:

1) There could be grounds to terminate her employment on grounds of capability. Before this is considered, a medical report should be obtained in order to see if a return to work is possible. This report should also be discussed with the employee before any decision is made.
 
2) The new job description should be given to the employee for consideration. It is worth inviting the employee to discuss the job description and why changes are being made. It is worth having the meeting with the employee ASAP.