Apart from work factors, Sarah should discuss how the company can support Jack. One consideration is flexible working. All employees with 26 weeks' continuous employment now have the right to request flexible working.
A change would relate to hours or times worked, or place of work, and is permanent unless something else is agreed. Employers are obliged to consider statutory requests in a “reasonable manner” (following the ACAS Code of Practice) and can only reject a request for one of eight business reasons.
If Jack makes a statutory request which is granted, it would be sensible to include a review period. If Jack does not have sufficient service, the company could still consider a flexible working request outside the statutory scheme.
At this stage, however, a permanent change might not be ideal. Jack may prefer more flexibility in working hours, the chance for some unpaid or compassionate leave, or to work from home occasionally.
Perhaps at this stage his wife’s symptoms have relatively little impact and Jack needs emotional support. He could be referred to employee assistance helplines or for counselling.
It sounds like Jack is returning to work, but if he hasn't returned after 4 weeks, the company could consider referring Jack to the new Fit for Work service, with his consent. The service is designed to give free, early intervention in sickness absence. Despite some concerns about it (employee consent is required at each stage; the assessment is done by telephone – potentially without reference to medical records or the employer), it could provide suggestions on how to help Jack get back to work.
Throughout the process, sensitive, open communication will be key.