As an employer, it is important to know that you cannot dismiss someone on grounds of disability if they can still carry out the essential duties of the job.
It is good practice for employers to develop a formal return to work policy that is specific to their own business and which implements the following steps:
Early intervention: Offer appropriate supports from the early stages of absence.
Keep in touch: It is important for employers to maintain a level of communication that the employee is comfortable with. If an employee is not well enough to be contacted, they can ask a family member or close friend to keep in touch on their behalf.
Return to work assessment: When an employee feels they are ready to return to work, assess their capacity and develop a return-to-work plan with them.
Return-to-work plan: Having a plan worked out can help to make sure that reasonable accommodations and additional supports are in place before your employee returns. The plan will also help in the effective communication of expectations and conditions.
Reasonable accommodation: Assess your employee’s role and workplace and, within reason, make the changes needed to allow the employee with a disability to fully do the job and enjoy equal employment opportunities. However, under EU legislation, you are not obliged to provide special treatment or facilities if the cost of doing so is excessive or unreasonable.
Option for phased return: Your employee may need time to gradually ease back into their job. It is useful to agree these arrangements and how they will be reviewed before they return.
What to tell colleagues: An employee is under no obligation to tell their employer or colleagues about their disability. It is up to the employee to decide if they wish their colleagues to know about their disability.
Reintegration into work: Once your employee has returned, monitor their progress and make sure they pace themselves appropriately.