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Terminating employment during illness: What not to do

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HC Online | 15 Sep 2014, 11:07 AM Agree 0
Can you spot where this employer went wrong in reacting to news of his staff member’s cancer diagnosis?
  • HR Professional | 15 Sep 2014, 12:34 PM Agree 0
    Sadly an everyday occurence across many companies Australia wide. The FW act allows for 3 months, after that its the employers discretion.
  • Suzanna Smith | 15 Sep 2014, 01:09 PM Agree 0
    Our receptionist was diagnosed with a voracious form of cancer and I am really proud of the company I work for, and the way they handled it. She was able to attend work as little or as much as she wanted to, and was paid full pay. The other staff happily agreed to pick up any slack, taking on jobs not usually within their job description, rather than take on a temp, so that she still felt useful and valued within the company. She was given a cleaner for her home and a home delivery account so she didn't have to worry about getting groceries. We fought tooth and nail against cold hearted airlines arranging for family to be there with her, and the Directors sought legal advice for her so she could ensure her Estate was sorted. Everyone kept in constant touch, and she was provided with every possible form of support. We are only a small company, yet not once did anyone complain about the workload, nor did the directors ever consider deducting sick days or holiday leave. They would never have considered terminating her. And this was after 2 years of service. Some companies DO have a heart.
  • New Young Professional | 16 Sep 2014, 12:04 PM Agree 0
    A reaction like that especially given she was an employee of 12 years is an embarrassment to the profession.
  • HR Dude | 16 Sep 2014, 12:29 PM Agree 0
    Three months does instantly mean that the employer can terminate. There was an article related to this one a little while ago after the FWA rejected the claim by an employer that they had the right under the three month rule for an employee that had been absent for 10 months.

    http://www.hcamag.com/hr-news/terminating-absent-employees-what-you-need-to-know-190398.aspx
  • New Young Professional | 16 Sep 2014, 12:35 PM Agree 0
    That's really nice to know that companies still exist like that Suzanna. I have a feeling that that is unfortunately a rare response and is far and few between these days!
  • caca | 17 Sep 2014, 03:10 PM Agree 0
    Although this wasn't the best way to respond, a business is after all a business right? If they need a role to function at a certain level, unfortunately they may need to make a tough decision(albiet with more tact and support).

    I'm very happy that at my workplace we had a long serving employee diagnosed with cancer.
    As this person has more than put in their share of work far beyond her job description there was no question that we would be accommodating.
    We have allowed total freedom in coming and going and not asked for any type of leave be put in. The employee comes in a few times a week and also works from home depending on how they are feeling or dr appointment schedules.
    I would imagine had this been an employee that was not highly valued and high performing we'd feel a little less accommodating.
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