One of the most difficult things HR has to do is to manage employees with severe health issues and/or injuries. In delicate situations such as these, employees must not be made to feel they are being victimised.
Instead they must feel that the employer is trying to find the best solution for both the employee and employer to deal with the issue in a fair and dignified manner.
In a company I had worked with, the Project Manager had an on-going health problem with his heart over a long period of time to the point where he could no longer work on sites. He had problems walking around the sites to check on projects and his staff and this was taking a toll on his health.
His manager & HR had to work together to find a solution to accommodate the employee’s situation. At the same time making sure that the employee understands the reasons for taking any particular action or steps.
We consulted with the Project Manager to ask him for his opinion and what he think he would like to do. The company also suggested a few scenario and options. In the end everyone agreed for the employee to be transferred from the site into the office to do administration & project management.
We monitored his health and allowed him to go for check-ups and requested for a copy of the reports from the doctors. This went on for several months and after a while he was not able to walk without difficulty of breathing. He was also absent a lot due to his condition.
After several months his manager & I had a chat with the Project Manager and he decided that he could no longer come to work due to his condition and we parted ways.
Conclusion – in any difficult situation its’ all about caring, empathy and consultation. Most importantly, the employee is and must be unable to perform their inherent duties as a result of their health or injuries.
All parties were happy and there were no hard feelings. The employee was given all his entitlements and the company’s reputation as a caring employer was preserved.