How times have changed. Not many years ago, when your employee reached state retirement age, it was ‘thank you very much – here’s a carriage clock.’

Or, if they developed physical or mental symptoms that hindered their ability to do their job, they’d be out of the door with a pat on the head.

Your duty of care

Today, life is different – thank goodness! The Equality Act 2010 imposes a duty of care on employers to ensure that they are adequately protected regardless of age, mental or physical condition. If your employee is finding it difficult to fulfil their role to the required standard, you must make reasonable adjustments to help them stay in work.

Invest in loyalty

This could be extra training, applying technological aids or even moving them to a different role. You might be thinking that this could end up being costly. But then, imagine the potentially prohibitive cost of recruiting, onboarding and training a replacement. Think also about the quality that money can’t buy – loyalty. Treating an employee well is one of the best investments you’ll ever make. In return, they’ll give you more value than you ever believed possible.

Liable to a personal injury claim?

There’s a Health and Safety angle to this issue. Let’s say your employee is increasingly less able to fulfil their function. Ask yourself why. Could it be that, over time, the nature of the work is what has caused this impairment? If so, you have even more of an obligation to support them in staying employed with you. Clearly, this obligation is an ethical one – but it’s a practical, financial one too. If they’re forced to leave because of a condition to which you contributed, you could easily be liable to a personal injury claim.

Avoidable physical or mental conditions

An example could be ‘white finger’ caused by HAV (Hand Arm Vibration) – a common condition caused by excessive use of certain machinery, such as pneumatic drills. Or what about mental illness caused by workplace stress or bullying? Both conditions, though vastly different in nature are examples in which a former employee could legitimately pursue you for unfair dismissal, provided they’ve been with you for at least two years.

Think ahead

Of course, there’s a simple way to avoid any of these scenarios. Plan ahead. Anticipate the potholes in the road ahead and you have a much better chance of avoiding them. Think about the role of each of your employees. Is there any chance that their mental or physical health could be damaged by?

  • the nature of their work?
  • the equipment you give them to work with?
  • the environment you ask them to work in?
  • their relationships with fellow employees or managers?

Health and Safety is about so much more than avoiding slippery floors or broken ladders.

You have a moral and legal responsibility to care for those people who make your business successful. Invest in their health and safety of your employees and you’ll be investing in the future of your business.Here to help. If you need help assessing and managing the risks that change brings to your business, get in touch. After all, we’re here to help. Please call us on 01933 812234 or send an email to