Dear experts, is there way to take disciplinary action against employees who are frequently taking leave on medical grounds. Pls suggest.
From India, Madras
Dear <>

While running an administration, assumptions or suspiciousness has no role. One needs to verify the facts and then arrive at the decision.

For the case at hand, did you check why is he required to take medical leave? What is the diagnosis and why is he taking time to get cured? Please ask him to provide documentary proof, including the doctor's certificate, medical prescription, and bills for the purchases made from the medical stores.

What was his leave balance and has his leave balance been exhausted?

Once you have complete information at hand, check its authenticity, and submit the summary to the competent authority. Let them take the appropriate action. Please check the attached newspaper clipping.

Who knows the employees could be suffering due to some disease also. Against this backdrop, taking disciplinary action under assumption would be wrong and illegal too.


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore

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Sir, thanking you for your valuable input.
It is true he has some medical ailments and he is submitting medical records too. His problem is genuine. But how long we could bear with this, he has already been given with light work and management has also been agreed for 50% contribution in his case. But still he continues to come only 3 days in a week. This is happening since 3 years. He is not ready to get settlement.

From India, Madras
Smadanhr - the root cause of this is the incorrect setting of expectations. Well, hasn't the Management agreed to his modality of working from the last 3 years?

If the medical/ trauma records for this employee were found to be genuine and correct, then some expectations should have been set already.

Practical advice - please quote policies to the employee in writing and get it agreed with the employee that he/ she may resort to WFH/ flexible work model for the rest of the 2 days, but has to work the complete week.

Utmost advice - As I always quote in my responses, please do not victimize an employee - it is not ethical and is professionally immature. There is nothing that cannot be sat over and understood. Do not confront an employee with much hostility, rather please make the employee comfortable and communicate with ease that there are expectations and from so-and-so effective date, we would need you to be in office/ work for complete week. Do not simply show the door to the employee and try to oust them. I have handled a dozen HR cases like this in my career, all I can say that with right attitude and right communication, the employees would feel confident and share their thoughts freely.

Thank you.

From India, Delhi
Dear Madan,

Certainly one can subscribe to the view of Ms.Lekha so far as genuine cases of frequent absence on medical ground. The ways and means she emphasizes are in fact good HR practices. But, to me it appears what you mentioned are cases of justifying unauthorised absence on medical grounds. If you have sufficient reason like earlier frequent absence without prior intimation but followed by leave applications later with medical certificates, you can refer the person to a medical board. It will curb such practice to some extent.

From India, Salem
Dear colleague,

Your case is of frequent/ irregular absence from work on medical grounds by one of your employees.

As per your post , the medical grounds for absence over prolonged period of 3 years , appears to be genuine. You have also recognised it as such by allowing it and also giving him light work as well as 3 days in a week work permission. Your patience, however, seems to be running out and , quite naturally, are wondering as to how long you can put up with someone who is not fully productive, though it is not his making.

There are legal and ethical sides to this which one has to weigh properly. You seem to have given him a long rope so far. What you can do is to get his thorough medical check up done and obtain expert opinion from the doctor as to whether his illness is curable and he can perform his normal work in near future.

If the prospects are not so good, make him understand and bid him good bye with golden handshake. Also do consider giving his son/daughter or any other close employable relative a job in his place so that his earnings are not affected.

I am suggesting this option just to balance opposite legal and ethical pulls and pressures.

Vinayak Nagarkar
HR and Employee Relations Consultant

From India, Mumbai

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