To go in work with a sick note?

(30 Posts)
carelesswhisper27 Sun 13-Mar-16 00:32:01

I suffer from migraines & have done for the past 15 years.

They generally were once every 3-6 months for the first 10 years, but about 5 years ago stepped up a gear and became once or twice a week. At that point I went onto preventative meds and have been ever since. Generally this has controlled the migraine attacks and reduced them again back down to every 3-6 months and reduced the severity so sometimes I can even go about my normal life after an hour or so of lying in a dark room.

In the past fortnight I have had 7 migraines, all 'old school' in terms of intensity. I have struggled to do anything when I have one, and have felt very nauseous - and have vomited with almost all of them (something I hadn't done with a migraine for about 3 years).

During this time I've been sent home from work on three separate occasions. I've also spoken to my GP three times. Initially they increased the dose of my preventatives. The second time they prescribed naratriptan for taking during an attack. (I tried it yesterday and still couldn't stay at work due to extreme nausea). Yesterday at my wits end I asked the GP for a referral - through work I can get a private appointment pretty quickly. My GP said no as its too soon, she thinks I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself to get back to work after each attack (admittedly I am, they have a strict absence procedure like most places these days) and the worry of another attack is causing me to get them so frequently.

Which brings me to my AIBU. She has signed me off for 2 weeks. However I've worked for my company just under a year and sick pay only kicks in after 12 months, therefore I'd be going unpaid for 2 weeks (other than statutory sick pay). DP says we can take the hit and will manage, but I hate the thought of losing so much money. Also as I mentioned they have a strict sickness policy and three 'occasions' of sickness now means a formal disciplinary meeting. So I'm keen to get back to work ASAP. Any thought and advice much appreciated!

carelesswhisper27 Sun 13-Mar-16 00:33:51

Sorry just going back to the title - I am considering going back to work on Monday despite GP advice because of the no pay situ and the disciplinary situ. Although I'm aware if I get another migraine at work and have to come home it's another 'occasion' of sickness which goes against me. Genuinely feel in a catch-22 situation and stuck.

Oysterbabe Sun 13-Mar-16 00:37:26

My place wouldn't let you back if you're signed off. Something to do with their insurance.

Deedeecupcakes Sun 13-Mar-16 00:37:40

Could you even just take one of the two weeks you've been signed off sick off? Just to give yourself the time to recover and only lose one weeks pay?
I know DP has said before that he's not meant to be in work if he has a sick note as it means he's not covered by insurance, but we are not in UK and I tend not to pay a lot of attention to him, so pay have heard wrong grin
Your Migraines sound horrible so thanksbrewwine for you and hope you feel better soon!

Deedeecupcakes Sun 13-Mar-16 00:38:19

Oh Xposts, I must have been paying more attention to him than I thought!!!

carelesswhisper27 Sun 13-Mar-16 00:49:07

I haven't told my employer I've been signed off at the minute. I was under the impression from what the doctor said I was under no obligation to tell work? She said 'look it's up to you - I believe you should be off work and therefore am writing a sick note and it's here for you to collect but it is up to you to take it or not' as I explained the situation to her re: work and pay.

How would my employer find out I had a sick note if I said nothing? have heard the insurance thing before but wasn't quite sure if it were true or not.

yummumto3girls Sun 13-Mar-16 00:49:09

As your migraine have been ongoing for more than 12 months, ask them to recognise them as a disability under the Equality Act, they may give consideration to varying the trigger points or consider a lesser sanction.

VoldysGoneMouldy Sun 13-Mar-16 01:08:55

Stay off work and use the time to see a different doctor for the referral. You obviously need it. Most neurology units have 'headache clinics' - I've always thought the term pretty derogatory as migraines are so much worse than just a headache - where you can be sent to see someone to work out the best treatment and prevention plan. It took a while of messing around with my meds but they're now mostly under control. You can't go on with this. Migraines are so utterly debilitating.

Really hope yours are under control again soon.

Italiangreyhound Sun 13-Mar-16 01:17:22

carelesswhisper27 in your shoes I would do whatever was best for my health. I would push for a long term solution and whatever medical check ups were needed, private through work if available or NHS if not.

I am unsure whether this means your GP will not refer you because they think you can just stay off work and not get ill, this is what your comment implies but I may be reading it wrong, is that what "Yesterday at my wits end I asked the GP for a referral - through work I can get a private appointment pretty quickly. My GP said no as its too soon, she thinks I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself to get back to work after each attack (admittedly I am, they have a strict absence procedure like most places these days) and the worry of another attack is causing me to get them so frequently." means?

Or does this mean something else?

If you are worried about a disciplinary then I would speak to your boss now and explain the full situation, you are ill, your GP thinks you are ill enough not to be at work, you will not be paid by work for being ill and you are willing to go without the money but you are worried about being disciplined for being ill.

This is all pretty alien to me as I can't imagine how a work place can discipline someone for being genuinely ill! Plus I get paid if I am away from work due to sickness, but I have been there 8 years.

You could also speak to Citizen's Advice.

www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/rights-at-work/sick-pay/off-work-because-of-sickness/

Is your work very stressful, is it making your life and your medical condition worse? If you are not desperate for money could you choose a less stressful job with less pay or with fewer hours? Just ideas.

All the best.

yorkshapudding Sun 13-Mar-16 01:21:48

I have gone into work when signed off by my GP following an injury before. Work didn't know I was signed off, as far as i'm aware they don't unless you tell them. I was worried about the impact on my colleagues and I felt so stressed out at the thought of coming back to a mountain of work that I would then have no time to catch up on, I decided it wasn't worth it. I had a couple of days off to rest then as soon as I could walk and drive to work I went back. With hindsight this was really foolish though and I have ended up with long term problems which I have been advised will probably require surgery at some point blush

I understand your worries around the sick pay and the absence procedure but the GP has signed you off for a reason. If you try to work through it and aggravate the problem you may end up having to take more time off in the long run.

Italiangreyhound Sun 13-Mar-16 01:31:11

yorkshapudding that is such a shame, you were trying to help and ended up being worse off. That's crap.

carelesswhisper please take note!

I nearly had a migraine on the way back from an event recently! I was in a car being driven along by a fellow delegate and we all had arranged lifts together but although I knew him a bit it was only the second time we had been in the car together. It was about 4.30 and suddenly the sun hit a certain point and I had to cover my eyes because the light was kind of 'strobbing' but I could still see light getting in. I really felt a migraine was starting. By the time we were about 20 minutes from my house I felt really sick and thought I was going to be car sick in the car of this fellow delegate who I did not know very well. i certainly could not have driven myself anywhere or done any work. And I would say that that probably was a very mild migraine because it never fully hit!

I guess what I am saying is if your migraines are very bad I am not sure how much work you will be able to get done!

TaintedAngel Sun 13-Mar-16 01:36:07

I began suffering migraines when I was around 7 so I can relate to how awful they are. flowers for you, because brew and chocolate were massive triggers for me!

If you can afford the time off then take it. Use it to relax and see if the frequency and severity of the migraines reduce as a result. Also use it to push for a referral to a specialist too.
Explain it to your work in terms of you either take this time off now, where they know its happening and how long for and use the time off productively to resolve the issue, or you continue as things are potentially needing more unplanned time off sick that you can't help with no end in sight.

They will be glad your trying to resolve the migraines for everyones benefit.

yorkshapudding Sun 13-Mar-16 01:42:35

yorkshapudding that is such a shame, you were trying to help and ended up being worse off. That's crap.

It's completely my own fault. I'm a nurse so I should no better but I guess its true what they say about HCP's making crap patients grin

OP, just to add I've often seen HR type people on here say that when it comes to sickness monitoring, they look much less favourably on people taking lots of short episodes of sick time than one long episode of sickness. So, actually it's probably much better for you to take the time your GP has suggested than to soldiar on and keep getting sent home or having the odd day here and there.

yorkshapudding Sun 13-Mar-16 01:43:35

Sorry, know not no better blush I need some sleep!

carelesswhisper27 Sun 13-Mar-16 10:54:24

Thanks all, food for thought.

Yes Italian, you understood correctly. GP said at this stage the neurologist would say the same as her, take two weeks off and see if they improve. It would be a pointless appointment, it's better to see if they continue whilst I'm off work and if so at that point we can look at a referral.

I'm feeling a bit headachey still which is common for me after and before another migraine hits. I think I will stay off mon-weds and if I don't have any more I might try to go back to work on Thursday. The money is a real issue because neither of us have any real savings. I'm going to be worrying about money if I stay off the full two weeks which obviously is counter productive!

My GP mentioned I'd be able to claim employment support allowance for the two weeks, but from what I read you can't claim it alongside SSP so we would be no better off sad

carelesswhisper27 Tue 15-Mar-16 13:37:29

Just an update and another couple of questions, hoping someone can help me.

I spoke to my manager yesterday and discussed my concerns, explained I have a fit note but do not want to take the full 2 weeks due to the pay issue. Her suggestion was take this week off and self cert rather than produce the sick note, and go in next week if I feel up to it. I have annual leave on Monday and Friday is a bank holiday so I'd only need to work three days next week but would still get the full weeks pay.

However she's just told me that because I went home sick on Friday I will need to produce the fit note for them if I am to have the full week off. I queried about going back before the end of the fit note and she said as it says 'not fit for work' the only way I would be allowed back to work before the end of the period is if the GP would do another, saying I am fit for work.

Does anyone know if a GP will do this if they've previously signed you off for a set period? I'm worrying now because I can't afford to have the full two weeks off, so I'd need to go back this week which does feel too soon. sad

TaintedAngel Wed 16-Mar-16 00:24:06

I have found they are generally happy to do that if you feel ready to return to work.
Although AFAIK now, GPs don't actually sign you back on to work again - at least not in Scotland where I am. Your best solution to this is to ring your surgery tomorrow and ask the receptionist if a GP can sign you back on as fit to work to end the sick note early, or if they no longer do that and you just return when you want.

TheRealBarenziah Wed 16-Mar-16 00:35:39

careless, what your boss has said is wrong under most circumstances. When a GP fills out a sick note, they give the dates for which the note is valid. There's then a statement underneath which says something like "I will/will not need to assess the patient again at the end of this period". 99% of the time, the GP will cross out "will" (or just not tick that box, if doing it on the computer grin) and so you do not need to be reassessed by the GP before returning to work. Does that make sense? (Bit frazzled. I was in work all weekend in Out of Hours and then worked 11 hours yesterday and 13 hours today. GP is not an easy option!)

carelesswhisper27 Wed 16-Mar-16 09:54:28

Yes makes perfect sense. I queried this after reading an NHS website that said I would not need a GP to write something else if I wanted to return before, she spoke to HR and has come back saying as 'not fit to work' has been ticked I definitely need something in writing if I am to return before the end of the period on the sick note.

Hmm. Will ring my doctors tomorrow and have a chat.

2rebecca Wed 16-Mar-16 10:44:03

I suspect if you phone the surgery and say you plan to return on Monday and ask for a new sick note only covering you up until then they'll do it.
I'm not sure a neurologist would do much different to your GP for migraines. There are a few different preventatives and you go up the dose of one and change to another if that doesn't work. I'd try the triptan again as the nausea may be more migraine than triptan related. Maybe add an antinausea tab if the triptan helps the headache.

writingonthewall Wed 16-Mar-16 11:04:02

My place wouldn't let you back if you're signed off. Something to do with their insurance.

your work doesn't know what they are talking about. It is perfectly acceptable to go back earlier and the requirement for a "back to work" note was abolished by the DWP some years ago

I suspect if you phone the surgery and say you plan to return on Monday and ask for a new sick note only covering you up until then they'll do it.

no, they will tell you as above that you can go back any time.

PatricianOfAnkhMorpork Wed 16-Mar-16 12:07:36

Definitely get that referral if you can. The DD of a friend of mine is going through something similar and is seeing various consultants, had several MRIs and other tests. They are closely monitoring the meds and changing them as required. Do not get fobbed off just keep pointing out that you have private cover. Might be worth ringing your healthcare insurers as they will sometimes let you see a specialist without the GP referral (as so many refuse to bloody refer).

To the PP who said about Disability Act, migraines are not classed as a disability regardless of how severe they are according to our employment lawyers. Some companies will however take them into account as part of the workstation checks but frankly there isn't much you can do about them as the triggers are so poorly understood.

Nanny0gg Wed 16-Mar-16 12:16:55

OP, if you don't mind me asking, how old are you?

I suffered the same, but they were hormone related and very much worse as I headed towards the menopause.

I suffered when probably I shouldn't, but it might be worth a think about when you get referred.

carelesswhisper27 Wed 16-Mar-16 14:06:52

'no, they will tell you as above that you can go back any time.'

This is my concern. My employer are insisting they will need another note to say I'm fit to go back to work sooner. If the GP says there is no need where do I go from there?

Nanny I'm a long way off menopause (not yet 30) so that concerns me somewhat! They're bad enough now sad

Lules Wed 16-Mar-16 14:15:48

I've had this issue with going back before my sick note ended. HR insisted that I needed another note to say I was fit and said that I wouldn't get full pay only SSP for the time I would have been off if I didn't. My GP initially refused to give me a note saying I was fit but I explained the situation and he did, probably just to get rid of me!

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