Many employers and employees find themselves in an employment dispute at some point in time. Whatever the cause, it is important to understand the process, your rights and obligations.
Employment disputes and calling in sick
Employment disputes often involve an employee calling in sick. In general, the company doctor will be called upon. It is the doctor alone, and not the employer or the employee’s own doctor, who assesses whether the employee is unable to work due to sickness.
If an employee calls in sick after a dispute, this is often qualified as inability to work due to situational inability. To answer the question whether this involves inability to work because of sickness, company doctors use the so-called STECR guideline as an indicator for employment disputes. In such cases, a time-out of two weeks is often advised.
Is the employee really sick?
Are there genuine medical limitations on going back to work? If not, the employee can, in principle, simply go back to work. However, it is possible that the limitations could actually occur (again) as soon as the employee does resume work. Once again, it is the company doctor who must give their opinion about the sickness.
Continuing the payment of salary
Although the STECR guideline is primarily intended for company doctors, it also contains instructions for the employer regarding how to deal with disputes. The STECR guideline also contains instructions for the employer about continuing salary payments in the case of a combination of an employment dispute and sickness. The general rule is: no work, yet wages, unless the not working is at the expense and risk of the employee. It is advisable for the employee to have someone check whether the employer is observing all the rules.
An employee who is not sick but does not come to work
If the company doctor has not declared that an employee is unable to work because of sickness, does this employee still have a right to the payment of salary if they do not come to work? This is certainly not automatically the case. In that situation, the employee who is not sick must demonstrate that they cannot reasonably be required to come to work because of the working conditions which apply in relation to risks involving the employer.
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