Being denied bonus/pay rise - should I complain?

(23 Posts)
trowelmonkey1 Wed 10-Feb-16 22:22:26

Apologies for the length (& boringness!), but I could do with some advice.

I have worked for the same company for the last 5 years and have never had any previous issues with my performance or attendance.

I had a son two years ago and was diagnosed with post natal depression. The depression never impacted my ability to my job until I had relapse a year ago (Feb 2015). My mood declined suddenly and I had to restart taking antidepressants. I was signed off work for two weeks while I got used to taking the antidepressants again. I returned when the two weeks were up and aside from two further sick days (1 for a migraine and 1 for vomiting), I haven't had any more time off.

I have a sick leave tolerance of 6 days in any 12 month rolling period and because I breached this, my employer began disciplinary action against me. I was referred for an occupational health assessment and subject to six month attendance improvement plan. I have complied with everything my employer has asked me to do and I've had no more sick days since the improvement plan was put in place.

I thought that would be the end of the matter, but at my annual review last month I was told that I had failed. We have four assessment markings - needs improvement, meets standard, exceeds & outstanding. My manager made it clear that my work performance was at the top end of meets standard, but because of my sick record, she could only give me needs improvement. This was apparently a new HR policy that management had only just been told about.

I knew I would miss out on my annual bonus because of my assessment marking , but there has been a further policy change that now links our pay rise to our assessment marking. Because I've been marked as need improvement, I will only get half of the pay rise. The financial loss from being denied a bonus and a portion of the pay rise isn't much, but the more I think about it, the more annoyed I get.

Firstly, the policy of automatically giving everyone who exceeds their sick leave tolerance an assessment marking of needs improvement has not been applied equally. I know of at least one colleague with a far worse sick record than me who hasn't been marked as needs improvement. Thus they will get their bonus and pay rise in full.

Secondly, my occupational health assessment said that because the depression was long term, I was covered by the equality act. As far as I understand it, this means that my employer cannot treat me less favourably because of the depression.

Finally, neither the policies of linking sickness to assessment markings and then using the assessment marking to determine pay raises have been made official. They have been introduced without consultation with the union and no official announcement has been made to employees. It seems to be that only those employees who have been affected are the ones that have been told. There is no reference to either policy change on the HR documentation available on our intranet.

I initially accepted all of this because I don't like to make a fuss, but WIBU to now challenge my employer on two policy changes that have financially penalised me because I had the misfortune to be ill? I am good at my job; I have not missed any targets and I have some of the best accuracy in the entire office. Surely that must count for something?

EBearhug Wed 10-Feb-16 22:26:54

Are you in the union? I'd start by asking them.

GloGirl Wed 10-Feb-16 22:29:11

Do you have more detail on why she marked you as standard rather than higher if you are meeting all your targets and have a good accuracy rate?

YAnBu at all, I would seek legal advice, or at least phone ACAS free helpline first, they are very good 0300 123 1100 |

breezydoesit Wed 10-Feb-16 22:31:04

Surely the time you were off for two weeks only counts as one instance of sickness and will be covered by a doctor's line? Then the migraine and vomiting are another two. I can only see that you were off a total of three times in the year.

They sound like arseholes and I'd be taking it further.

BespokeStereophonicVinyl Wed 10-Feb-16 22:35:02

YANBU at all, what a shitty way for them to treat you.

I'd tread carefully though, every time I've seen a similar situation in which a (pefectly valid) grievance has been made, and even upheld, it has turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory.

The working environment for the employee in question has become so unpleasant that they have ended up leaving anyway. There are very subtle ways to manage you out, that would be difficult to prove in a tribunal setting.

Do you want to continue working there? I think this will inform your next choices...

WineIsMyMainVice Wed 10-Feb-16 22:35:29

I think you should ask for a meeting with your line manager and discuss it. If you are still not satisfied raise a formal grievance.
Good luck.

BespokeStereophonicVinyl Wed 10-Feb-16 22:36:34

Sounds like the Bradford factor is being used here Breezy

trowelmonkey1 Wed 10-Feb-16 22:44:34

Thanks for the replies, definitely going to take this further. I'm not on the union, but I have been thinking about joining. They have been historically useless, but they are probably the best place to start.

Glo - meets standard is the default marking for everyone who meets their target. You pretty much have to be able to walk on water to get anything higher! I'm good at my job, but not that good grin Just to give some idea: the company employs c. 600 people and less than 20 got exceeds or outstanding for the 2014 annual review.

CockwombleJeff Wed 10-Feb-16 22:50:25

To meet the conditions for the equality act you would need to have been symptomatic of a mood disorder for 6 months and for it to more than likely exist for another 3 months.

If your depression has responded to treatment you are not classed as having a disability - and therefore you do not meet the requirements for the equality act.

GruntledOne Wed 10-Feb-16 22:54:30

One of my former employers was looking seriously at introducing the Bradford scheme, which this sounds like, at one point. Fortunately I left before it could be fully implemented. I remember they had a big push on time recording and demanded formal interviews for everyone who hadn't met targets. One of the people they called in had been off sick for some time after a car mounted the pavement and hit him, breaking a collar bone. In all seriousness they demanded to know why he hadn't met his targets and what he was going to do about remedying the situation. The best he could think of was to say "I'll try not to get knocked down again by a drunk driver".

It was obviously counter-productive, because they had staff turnover figures well above the norm in our industry.

CockwombleJeff Wed 10-Feb-16 22:55:20

You will have failed because your annual review was in January - the 12 month rolling period will not end until 12 months from the date you went back to work from the depression - hence why they are saying you have failed.

Next month will be a different story because the 10 days sickness will have dropped off your record.

chillycurtains Wed 10-Feb-16 23:00:57

I have no experience but I would have thought the factor that it is not being fair applied to all staff would be a good place to start. It sounds like you perhaps wouldn't qualify under the disability legislation so I would not go down that route unless you are sure it covers your situation.

Postchildrenpregranny Wed 10-Feb-16 23:17:54

You may find your union will not represent you until you have been in it for a minimum period OP

Waffles80 Thu 11-Feb-16 07:08:53

I'm not sure that's true, postchildren.

You need to speak to the union asap, go above your rep and to the union's Head Office directly if you don't feel confident with those representing in the workplace.

They might ask for a backdated subscription.

Don't accept payrise refusal - while the numerical amount might seem small now, and not worth the faff, consider that amount over ten years or more. Yes, you might get the rise next year, but you'll still be a rung below because it sounds like you are legitimately entitled to the money this year too.

HuckfromScandal Thu 11-Feb-16 07:31:05

Post children is right, I doubt you will get support for a pre existing problem, and I doubt that they will take backdated subs. Why is it that people think it's ok to join a union once the problem has occurred??

I am sorry you're having an issue, but you have all the benefits of a unionised workplace, and yet think that they are useless!! Get involved then, become a rep, make a difference for others.
Unions only work with high densities, and high engagement, not when people have issues and suddenly decide that help and support should be offered immediately.

JohnLuther Thu 11-Feb-16 07:39:12

I'd definitely seek clarity as I would have thought that being signed off with depression would come under the disability illness category and thus wouldn't impact on your sickness record.

I know that in the rare cases that I'm off ill due to my disability that it is recorded on our system as disability related and it isn't added towards my total sickness absence.

However I'm aware that not all workplaces are the same, some seem more on the ball than others.

Potatoface2 Thu 11-Feb-16 07:49:05

hmm.....do you think they are trying to get rid of you....knowing you have had depression and doing this may cause you to have a set back, the ball starts rolling and then you become unwell again, more sick time....etc.....i would be very careful if i were you.....this happened to me, it made me feel like i wasnt appreciated, i felt put upon, and it started to wear me down...the new policies in many work places setting the amount of sick periods allowed has caused many problems imo......you can have a month off and thats classified as 1 episode, but if you have 1 day thats also 1 episode.....most people will have only 1 day so its easy to get 3 episodes in a year....seems odd that what the reason for sickness is not taken into consideration....someone i know had many short episode due to chemo, they didnt get a pay rise or a bonus...just seems unfair to me

SevenOfNineTrue Thu 11-Feb-16 08:17:38

Before you go forwards, ask HR formally what the policy is.

MrAliBongo Thu 11-Feb-16 08:22:42

Certainly you won't get full union resources for a problem that came up before you joined, but a rep may choose to advise you if you join now, and you'd be wise to join ASAP because, I'm sorry to say, you may find this is a recurring problem.

In essence, though, i think you have a strong case to claim that this is discriminatory, under the disability discrimination act, as your depression almost certainly qualifies as a disability. That means, if your employer knew you were suffering from depression, they should make reasonable adjustments to enable you to carry on doing your job. And top of my list of reasonable adjustments is a waiver of sickness absence triggers with respect to any absence relating to the disability.

Oysterbabe Thu 11-Feb-16 09:40:41

You have my sympathy. My work would be the same. Bastards.

goldierocks Thu 11-Feb-16 10:50:26

Hello OP.....

My employer is thankfully pretty good at assisting employees with medical conditions - I'm one of them. I wish many other employers were the same, I've heard real horror stories from friends.

If you are being assessed on your 2015 performance, it would be unusual to mark you against a newly implemented sickness policy. They should grade you according to the policy that was in place during that performance year.

"...the policy of automatically giving everyone who exceeds their sick leave tolerance an assessment marking of needs improvement has not been applied equally." - I'd ask copies of the policies (old and new) to see exactly what they say.

Our policy isn't applied unilaterally, each case is reviewed individually. For example, the policy wouldn't be applied if someone had been in an accident or had a serious medical condition and were signed off, but it would be applied to people who'd had multiple individual self-certificate sickness absences. You are unlikely to find out why the policy wasn't applied to the other person, but it is probably due to their personal sickness circumstances.

My company always refers people to Occupational Health if they go over a certain number of sick-days in a rolling 12-month period. It's most definitely not a punishment or disciplinary matter here, they are trying to help overcome any issues. Once Occupational Health are involved, they can make sure that an employee with an ongoing medical condition (including depression/anxiety) is properly supported. Again going on my place of work, once Occ. Health have confirmed a person has a long-standing medical condition they are treated differently with regards to future sickness absences due to that condition.

You should have been given notice of the disciplinary action and a reason - what did it say? Have Occupational Health been of any help to you?

My company pays a bonus for Strong and Outstanding only....not even the Meets Standard people get one. I don't think that is particularly unusual in the current economic climate.

Have a look at your Contract of Employment. See if there is a clause in it which says something like Employer Name can make changes to X policy at any time without notice. If there is, what they have done is highly unpleasant but difficult to challenge. If there is no such wording, you could consider lodging a grievance as your terms and conditions of employment have been changed to include a sickness policy that you didn't agree to.

Good luck flowers

trowelmonkey1 Thu 11-Feb-16 22:28:20

Just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who has replied.

I've spoken to the union and a number of other employees have approached them to complain as well. There is a union meeting taking place in the next couple weeks where they'll be deciding what to do next. The key issues they have is that the policies are being applied retrospectively and they haven't been applied fairly. I have also been informed by the union that my employer intends to deny any sort of pay rise to people with marking of needs improvement. This means that I won't even get the 0.5%.

There has still been no official announcement and I have trawled all the available HR documentation and can find no mention of these new policies.

I have also clarified that I am covered by the equality act. I have it in writing on the report I received from my occupational health assessment and it's even been acknowledged in a letter from my manager.

So I will be taking this further. It may take some time, but I'm not going to let it go. However, just in case things go bad, I am also looking for a new job. Issues with pay and bonuses aside, the office has become an unpleasant place to work for number reasons and I don't see me having a long term future there.

Thanks once again to everyone for the advice, you've all been so helpful smile

lorelei9 Fri 12-Feb-16 15:19:58

Sounds awful....and like a way to get people to resign? Possibly to avoid redundancy payouts?

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