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Reply To: Refusal to return to office in lower levels

Hi there. There must be a lot of fear and distress for someone to refuse to come back to work – and it sounds like you’ve been dealing with it for a while now. Well done for trying to make it work over the past year and being willing to try remote working. I recommend you meet with the employee to request they document the health and safety needs they require to be met to manage their medical condition and be able to work consistently in the office. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to ask for their doctor to write to you with their recommended actions. Once you have the list, you should consider it carefully and see if you could put whatever is required in place to ensure your employee feels safe and comfortable. If not, you may need to take the difficult step of proposing to end their employment if they are unable to perform in the role as required. I strongly recommend you get formal advice from an employment lawyer or an experienced HR consultant to ensure you do the right thing by your employee and you protect your business – before you take the process any further. I wish you luck. Fiona