Ill health in the workplace - Rights and obligations

Updated: Oct 27



Ill health issues in the workplace are not new, but in recent times, issues around the changing working environment, mental health and the repercussions of ‘long Covid’ have put this in the spotlight. Employers and employees alike need to know what is ‘fair’ and what their respective rights and obligations are. Employers are obliged by law to maintain, as far as reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of its employees. On the other hand, there are commercial interests and operational demands that must be met. This is a fine balancing act, especially when an employee’s performance or deliverables are below standard due to something that is not their ‘fault’ or within their control, such as a health issue. Some health conditions are also difficult to diagnose – specifically those around mental health – or to give a prognosis on. Health information is sensitive personal information, so there are also privacy issues to consider. A further complication is that a health condition can in some instances constitute a ‘disability’ and as such is afforded added protection under our anti-discriminatory laws. It is a veritable minefield for employers, especially since our courts have been somewhat ambiguous in this regard. In our latest article, Ill health in the workplace - Rights and obligations, we explore the legal requirements employers should know about when dealing with ill health incapacity in their work environment. We also give practical guidance in terms of the process to be followed to meet these requirements. Click on the link above to read more.

Judith Griessel

September 2021