There can be many visual clues that suggest an employee is not well. These include obvious signs of physical discomfort, personality changes or poor concentration. However, whilst you believe that the employee may have health issues, when you broach the subject with them, they deny anything is wrong.  So what should you do?

Employees have a statutory duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and others who their activities could affect. This means co-operating with you to discover if there's a health problem; not just for their benefit but for any negative impact it could have on others.

Therefore, if the employee continues to show signs of ill health after the initial discussion, arrange to meet them again. Whilst this should be a more formal discussion, you should still handle it sensitively. Outline what symptoms have been witnessed and when. If it's having a negative impact on their work, give clear examples, such as being less productive than usual or forgetting tasks. The desired outcome of this meeting should be that the employee agrees to see their Doctor as soon as possible. If they refuse or don't actually go, politely point out that you may have to take further action without the benefit of medical opinion if the situation does not change, e.g. disciplinary action for poor performance that has no valid explanation.

If you are facing a similar situation and would like advice on how to address it with the employee, please call Practical HR on 01702 216573 or email

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