Dear experts, Is there a way to take disciplinary action against employees who are frequently taking leave on medical grounds. Pls, suggest.
From India, Madras
Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Labour Law & Hr Consultant
Labour Officer
Senior Hr Consultant
Management Consultancy
Nagarkar Vinayak L
Hr And Employee Relations Consultant

Dinesh Divekar

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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File Type: jpg Ruling by Karnataka HC on Unauthorised Absence.jpg (355.4 KB, 56 views)

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
Nagarkar Vinayak L

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

We have transfered one staff from kerala branch to tamil Nadu branch. He refused to receive the order and issued by regd post. He has not joined duty for the past 15 days. What action can be taken for unauthorized absenteeism
From India, Coimbatore

In reference to the above if any employee of any organisation is suffering from illness/major disease then he can take leave legally and if management have any problem regarding the same HR dept. can verify the supporting evidences/documents and if found something wrong or fake during the investigation then you can take necessary action against him/her.
Pls think- Everyone wants to earn money and if any salaried employee employed with you then why he/she will take unwanted leave???
Pls discuss with the concern employees and try to understand the actual situation for smooth solutions.


You can initiate action by the Tamil Nadu office issuing a communication asking the employee to report for duty in case the employee is interested to serve the organisation. Pl check the provision in Standing Orders or service rules providing for loss of lien in case of unauthorised absence. In the next communication quote this provision and ask the employee to report by a definite date. If still the employee does not report for duty, then issue a final notice again calling for reporting for duty failing which the name of the employee will be struck off the rolls. Importantly, there shall be no communication from Kerala Office, if anything is received from the employee it shall be redirected to the Tamil Nadu Office.
From India, Mumbai
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