Employers can be concerned that any action against someone who has an illness will be in breach of the Disability Discrimination Act ("the DDA") and leave then vulnerable to an employment law claim.
There are two main issues employers need to address: is the illness or problem one that is covered by the DDA and, if so, what do they need to do. In order to be covered by the DDA the illness or problem must be substantial and long term. This can still seem vague but in general the problem should be one that will affect them for 12 months or more and it can include stress. In addition, you need to ascertain if you can make reasonable adjustments in order to allow the disabled person to continue to work. Such reasonable adjustments may include adjustments to policies and procedures or physical adjustments but they key is that you are only required to do what is reasonable. You should therefore spend time thinking how you could work with the person and document possible solutions, together with the costs and detriment as well as the benefits to these solutions. If you are a small business with only 5 staff, it is unlikely you could afford to have a member of staff who is regularly off for one day every other week or may be off for three months at a time. However, you may be able to offer that person a part time role. It really will depend on the circumstances of the case, so if you are uncertain or concerned over a developing scenario, please contact Andrej or Ruth.