We received a call from a business owner and it went a little bit like this:
Business Owner: “We are having a bit of a nightmare with an employee, they have gone off sick and they aren’t keeping in touch with us, we don’t know what to do”
HR Savvy: “How long ago did they go off sick?”
Business Owner: “About 3 weeks ago”
HR Savvy: “Have you had a Fit Note from their GP?”
Business Owner: “No”
HR Savvy: “Do you know why they are off sick?”
Business Owner: “We really do not know, the last we heard was they were coming back, he didn’t show. We text them, ring them and nothing comes back, it’s all a bit strange”
HR Savvy: “How long has the employee worked for you?”
Business Owner: "4 years”
HR Savvy: “What outcome do you want from all of this?”
Business Owner: “If you had asked me that 2 weeks ago, I would say we want them back, but now, I think we are quickly losing faith”
HR Savvy: “Are you saying that a dismissal is looking more favourable to you?”
Business Owner: “I don’t see they are leaving us with many choices”
HR Savvy: “Ok, we can put a recommended course of action together for you – have you stopped their pay?”
Business Owner: “No, we have been paying sick pay”
HR Savvy: “Their absence is unauthorised, they are technically absent without leave, so your obligations to pay them anything right now are nil.”
Business Owner: “Well I looked on the internet, and I thought it was advising me to pay them,”
HR Savvy: “With all due respect whatever you have read, it is incorrect, they are not due any pay whilst on unauthorised absence. How much have you paid?
Business Owner: “1 week at full pay and 2 weeks on statutory sick pay so about £500”
HR Savvy: “Ok, you need to make a decision whether you want to pursue that as an overpayment of wages, but given what you have told us, that could be a difficult course of action to take, the chances of recovery are probably quite low”
Business Owner: “I wish we had talked to you first, we would have saved a few hundred pounds”
HR Savvy: “Yes you would, now let’s get this situation under control.”
Now we know this business owner is not alone when it comes to doing a quick internet search to try and find a solution to this problem, but at times like this a quick email or chat with an HR professional could have not only given him the right advice, but also saved him money.
Think of it like this. Feeling unwell? If you were to just do an internet search on your symptoms, you could be suffering from all sorts of things and misdiagnose yourself. Although many still do a search, we also go to the professional, in this case a GP, for their advice. Apply this same principle if you're running a business and have a HR problem.
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