HR Tip: The right to privacy for sick employees

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These questions are being answered by Learn HR, a market leader in the provision of HR and payroll training and nationally-recognised professional qualifications.

Question: "If we visit a sick employee in his home are we in breach of his right to privacy provided by the Human Rights Act?"

HR Tip: You would be in breach of good management practice if you did not arrange for sick employees to be visited. How would you feel if you were off sick and nobody seemed to care? But I understand your concern. The employee's right to privacy means that you should not bang on their door unexpectedly late at night or set up a video camera in the garden of the house opposite.

You do need to keep in touch with sick employees and I suggest that the best arrangement is to ring up beforehand and ask if it will be convenient if you pop in around a certain time. This could be day or evening. As a good employer you will wish to ensure that the employee is not in need of anything, you ought to know how he or she is progressing, and you may well have information or news about the workplace to pass on.

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31st May 2007 16:15

While I fully agree that employers should not treat employees unreasonably, and this includes the way in which mutual trust and confidence is maintained, where does the Human Rights Act come into play? Unless the employer is a public body, the HRA does not impact on the employee/employer relationship - unless someone can tell me differently.

Many employees will waltz into the office claiming that their human rights are being denied, but in the majority of cases they have no formal human rights. Whether they should or not is another question!

Quentin Colborn

www.qcpeople.co.uk

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