Since the “single status” reform of December 2013, any employee dismissed with more than 30 weeks’ notice is entitled to an outplacement programme paid for by the employer. As a counterpart, and provided that the employee is dismissed with immediate effect subject to the payment of an indemnity in lieu of notice, the employer can deduct four weeks’ salary from such indemnity (whether or not the employee accepts the outplacement offer).

The law was amended in January 2018 to give employees the right to decline an outplacement programme on medical grounds. In such cases, the employer is not obliged to offer the outplacement programme and so cannot deduct the four weeks’ salary from the indemnity.

To prove eligibility, the employee must provide the employer with a medical certificate confirming their inability on medical grounds to attend the outplacement programme. The medical certificate must be provided within seven days of the date on which the employee becomes aware of the termination of their employment contract.

Under the amended legislation, the employer can appoint its own doctor to assess the employee’s ability to attend the outplacement programme. If the employer’s doctor concludes that the employee is able, the employer must offer an outplacement programme but can deduct the four weeks’ salary from the indemnity in lieu of notice. 

Although this amendment benefits employees on sick leave, technical issues may still need resolving, such as when the seven-day deadline begins. For an employee on long-term sick leave who are not physically present at the office, proving exactly when they became aware of their contract termination will not always be straightforward.