To make this offer or suggestions

(57 Posts)
TheInnerSea Fri 25-Jan-13 16:37:28

I am line manager to a woman with a broken ankle. There have been some complication and she's now been in plaster for ten Weeks and signed off work. We're in regular contact and she says she wants to be back at work and the only reason she isn't is that she can't drive. Her absence is causing

dissatisfaction among her work mates as they feel she's skiving and they're having to cover for her.

WIBU to offer to pay half of her taxi fayre so she can come to work? (approx 15 each way)

Also does anyone know the legal position?

MsVestibule Fri 25-Jan-13 16:39:55

15 miles or £15? If £15, would that just be 'your' share? What is your company policy on long term sick?

ShamyFarrahCooper Fri 25-Jan-13 16:41:14

You should be speaking to the work mates about not slagging her off when she is signed off. Signed off is the operative word here.

Dawndonna Fri 25-Jan-13 16:43:14

Erm, you are offering to pay the taxi fare for somebody who is off sick?
In what world is that reasonable. I'm sure she would rather be at work, however, she's been signed off for a length of time for a reason.

Pandemoniaa Fri 25-Jan-13 16:43:20

Your company should have sick leave policies. I suggest you consult them first. However it is not U to provide practical support to allow someone to return to work. You don't, however, pander to accusations of skiving.

Crawling Fri 25-Jan-13 16:44:49

I wouldnt pay the taxi fare but I may offer a lift.

DontmindifIdo Fri 25-Jan-13 16:47:13

If she's only signed off because she's incapbale of getting to work due to her ankle and you have a company policy that allows expensing of taxis under certain circumstances, you wouldn't be wrong to point this out to her that if she did want to come back before the plaster is off then there's an option to get her to work and back once she's deemed fit to work but still not drive.

However I'm surprised, do you work somewhere that's not accessable at all by public transport? If it's just that she can't drive to/from work, surely there's other options than the company paying for taxis...

HecateWhoopass Fri 25-Jan-13 16:48:50

If she's been signed off as unfit to work then that's the end of it and you should be disciplining the other workers and making it very clear that until a doctor gives her the all clear she is legitimately off work and you won't accept any sniping about it!

If otoh, the doctor has signed her as fit to work, then she should be at work. Not everyone has a car! People go on buses etc.

If you wanted to help with taxi fares then be aware you will be setting a precedent and will have to do it for all staff in similar circumstances.

TheInnerSea Fri 25-Jan-13 16:50:51

It's 15 pounds in total.

She's not sick, she can't drive and she says that's the only reason she's not in work.

It's not pandering to want to deal with an issue that's causing workforce issues.

Dawn the reason she's signed off is because she can't drive. Why is it so outrageous to offer get what she apparently wants?)

HecateWhoopass Fri 25-Jan-13 16:52:50

And what will you do when the other workers then start complaining about her being given extra money?

Do any of them live near her? Could give her a lift? you could pay them mileage.

TheInnerSea Fri 25-Jan-13 16:53:33

We are on an excellent bus route, but she feels unable to use on crunches

UKSky Fri 25-Jan-13 16:57:18

If she is signed off by her gp then she is not insured to be at work. If she were to have an accident at work, the company will be liable for any compensation claim.

TheInnerSea Fri 25-Jan-13 17:03:35

That's true US, but if she didn't need t)
o drive he wouldn't have signed her off.

Yes Hecate there are people who would and have offered lifts, I thought that may be even more unreasonable?

I'm on new phone Btw and doing my best!

If she's signed off work she can't come in. You can't override her GP's medical knowledge in the sick note. She may be saying it's because she can't drive but she might not be able to put her weight on it, and need to move it regularly etc which is more difficult behind a desk.

What did her doctor's note say?

And if you're her manager, your job is to support her when she's well enough to come back to work, and to manager her colleagues expectations. She doesn't have to return to work because they think she's skiving. Maybe start discussing other times when staff cover for colleagues, it's just what colleagues do.

quoteunquote Fri 25-Jan-13 17:07:13

If you did this, and the employee then developed further complications, she would have an excellent case against your company.

I would check very carefully with the legal department of your insurers, as they may well want to know before you take this very dubious step.

As for letting anyone pressurise someone who is off due to injury, that is extremely poor management.

but then letting a situation develop where people feel dissatisfied is very bad management, there are many ways that this could be avoided, hiring agency staff or rearranging the structure of the work load,

who ever is running this team is not doing their job properly and is allowing someone who is not there due to health reasons to carry blame, that is shameful,

I hope that this woman gets the apology she deserves, and who ever has failed to make the right decisions for the team, calls a meeting and explains that it is not this woman's fault, it would be very cowedly not to, as she will suffer animosity from work colleagues.

Enfyshedd Fri 25-Jan-13 17:08:26

What does your company's H&S policy say about this? I'm only mentioning it because I work in a highrise building and each time someone has been signed off with leg injuries which have needed crutches (torn tendon, broken leg, etc), they haven't been allowed to come to work as they would be considered a risk in the event of a fire alarm. There is one guy I know of in the building who is in a wheelchair, but there are specific arrangements in place for his safety & evacuation. I imagine that making arrangements for several people over different floors would cause problems that they'd rather avoid.

TheInnerSea Fri 25-Jan-13 17:14:51

Ok, let's assume that she's telling the truth about not driving being the only reason she can't work,obv we would need doc to be happy and sign her fit for work before she can come back.

Also assuming she's genuine in her desire to work, why is it such an unreasonable suggestion? Noones going to force her to come back,just make the offer.

Because whether she's said she's well enough or not, her GP has signed her off as unable to work, not unable to drive or catch buses.

No-one's doubting her desire to work if she's been stuck at home for 10 weeks' worth of daytime telly.

When does her sick note run out?

Her GP could have confirmed that she's fit to work but needed modifications making e.g. reduced hours, take 10 minute walking breaks every hour, but they didn't.

TheInnerSea Fri 25-Jan-13 18:32:28

Yes, but we wouldn't have her back until a Dr has given the ok. ATM this is just an idea and may never happen.

I'll come clean now-I have already taken adv from hr.I'm not sure they're right,but they want to insist she sees co dr with a view to him confirming what she says about driving. Co could then insist that she funds her own taxi,travel to work being her responsibility. My suggestion is a way of avoiding it coming to that.

As for the other staff,if you can honestly say you wouldn't be a but put out by someone posting on fb about the great
break they're having on full pay,then I regret I have never been fortunate enough to work with such saints [Wink]

Nancy66 Fri 25-Jan-13 18:35:27

so she's already been off for 10 weeks?

How much longer is she planning to be off for?

ZenNudist Fri 25-Jan-13 18:53:48

I was going to say ask hr. follow their advice. She is taking the piss posting on fb and shes stupid. That's kind of irrelevant but it's worth letting the company's health adviser deal with her, so petty grievances don't get in the way and they will have best idea of how work can adapt to accommodate her.

Do you think she is telling work one thing 'I really want to come to work, obviously I can't drive, feel unable to catch bus', but telling the doc all sorts of sob stories to get 10weeks off'? Do you think she is exaggerating how hard it is to get into work without a car?

Frankly I wouldn't fancy having to crutch it to & from a bus stop to my work. But I would then work from home. I certainly wouldn't take a full ten weeks off as I'd be pretty sure to get a reputation as a shirker and lose any goodwill when I want pay rise/ promotion in the future. Is this someone who is just a jobs worth or is she usually a good worker?

Fwiw I think you're taxi idea is a bad one. Follow he policy, otherwise could In a well meaning way cause problems for your company re a claim.

ZenNudist Fri 25-Jan-13 18:56:14

Oh and your co doctor could well look to move her onto statutory sick pay. Would that convince her to come back to work? grin

Shesparkles Fri 25-Jan-13 18:56:15

I'd be checking my employer's insurance policy.... It's not just about getting her to work, how would she exit the building in case of emergency etc?

I think you're needing to be giving the rest of your staff a massive kick up the arse about their petty and juvenile behaviour before you're offering to pay taxi fares

manticlimactic Fri 25-Jan-13 19:31:16

My company won't allow you back to work if you're on crutches. You're best checking the company policy.

2kidsintow Fri 25-Jan-13 21:23:25

Our deputy head came into work with a broken arm because he felt like a fraud sitting at home.

He was sent straight back home by the head teacher as he wasn't covered by our insurance to be at work if he was signed off by the doctor.

If it is as simple as 'she really wants to work' then she could go back to the doctor and asked to be signed back as fit to work and then make different arrangements.

I've been on crutches though- and it's knackering and not easy. It has a knock on effect for your whole body and makes you clumsy. I'd hate to have to evacuate in a fire drill for example.

DamnBamboo Fri 25-Jan-13 21:35:13

All other issues asides, you sound like a shit line manager OP!

Altinkum Fri 25-Jan-13 21:40:30

I think your naive tbh, she has a medical exemption and as the line manager, its your responsibility to curtain any gossip!!! YABU, and my beig very good at your job in terms of managing staff! You do know this is work force bullying as this attuide that you have allowed to continue will still be their when she gets back!!!

lljkk Fri 25-Jan-13 21:43:10

DH would use a taxi to get to work. Or he'd work at home. Heck, he'd crawl thru the snow if that was only way.

MolehillAlchemy Fri 25-Jan-13 21:49:04

If she's needing a further ten weeks in plaster because of complications, then she could be facing a lifetime of problems if she doesn't get the rest she needs. Just because she's saying to her line manager on the phone that she'd rather be at work, doesn't mean that's what's she's really thinking. FFS, give her a break. Give her time for her bloody ankle to heal properly, without stressing about what people at work are saying. We're humans not bloody robots!

takeaway2 Fri 25-Jan-13 22:06:21

If she really wants to work but can't come in then why can't you truck some work to her? Post it or drop it off at hers, get her a company laptop?

I have come across companies paying in similar situations (where the employee was willing and able to work but unable to drive). It makes perfect sense. Can the company doctor really overrule a sick note from her GP?

footballmum Fri 25-Jan-13 22:26:25

As others have said I think you'll find it's an insurance issue. Your Employers Liability Insurance definitely won't cover her whilst she's signed off as unfit to attend work so her doctor would need to sign her back on again. However, she may still not be covered if emergency evacuation procedures may be hampered by her injury. If you can overcome those hurdles then I don't think YABU and it sounds a reasonable solution to the issue.

HoHoHoNoYouDont Fri 25-Jan-13 22:36:27

I might be wrong here but I've been told that if your HR dept referred her to Occupational Health then the Occ Health doctor may be able to override her own GP. Doesn't happen that often but the doctor may pass the employee fit to do alternative work and also advise that the company arrange for suitable transport. I have a friend in Occ Health and she says this happens from time to time. Suppose it depends on the company and their policies.

PrettyKitty1986 Fri 25-Jan-13 22:50:58

If she's already been in plaster for 10 weeks then I can't imagine it will take much longer. Personally I think you're being silly going the whole occ health route. It can take weeks or even months for an occ health process to be followed. It's not as simple as get her to see a co gp then boom, 2 days later she's back. I'd wait it out and certainly not be paying any taxis for her. It's the managers job to keep other employees toeing the line and people having the hump is not a reason to try and force her back to work.

Xmasbaby11 Fri 25-Jan-13 22:56:06

Just let her recover!

HollyBerryBush Fri 25-Jan-13 22:59:19

the reason she's signed off is because she can't drive

I don't believe that at all!

She is signed off because she is unfit forwork NOT transpoert issues, otherwise ther would be a plethora of people stating they dont like public transport/broken down car and getting docs certs to cover.

Enfyshedd Fri 25-Jan-13 23:08:20

One of my friends was off work for 3 1/2 months with a broken leg which required an operation following an accident. She was fed up of being at home and wanted to return to work. She might have cracked jokes about the perks of of being off sick included having hunky ambulance men carrying her up & down the stairs to her 2nd floor flat when she had hospital appointments, but she sure as hell wasn't enjoying having no independance and being trapped at home the rest of the time. If the doc has signed her off, then that is that.

TheInnerSea Fri 25-Jan-13 23:17:25

fgs,I'm being told by hr,that I need to get her back to work, nothing to do with the other staff, just that she's being paid to do nothing and they don't like it. ultimately I'll have to do as I'm told.but have been looking for a way to avoid laying down the law. Of course the company Dr can override what gp says esp as there is no obligation to keep paying her. In any case the reality is that the Co Dr would speak to gp and agree what is or isn't ok for her in terms of travel and duties.

She can't work from home it's a customer facing role.

ImperialBlether Fri 25-Jan-13 23:23:14

I really wouldn't want to work for your organisation, OP.

Greenkit Fri 25-Jan-13 23:28:32

Of course the company Dr can override what gp says esp as there is no obligation to keep paying her

But if you pay sick pay, then yes you are obliged to pay her, if she is signed off sick she isnt taking the piss FFS

tiggytape Fri 25-Jan-13 23:36:42

fgs,I'm being told by hr,that I need to get her back to work, nothing to do with the other staff, just that she's being paid to do nothing and they don't like it

If you keep trying to find ways to get her to go back when she is signed off sick you are going to be risking a tribunal.
You shouldn't even be contacting her to question her degree of sickness. She is signed off sick and that's an end to it whatever HR or the other employess think. She would be entitled to lodge a grievance against you for harrassment if you keep calling her and trying to force her into returning when she has been deemed medically unfit to do so.

tiggytape Fri 25-Jan-13 23:42:15

... and I'd tell HR to do their own dirty work if I were you because at the moment you stand to be held accountable if she happens to get advice or is in a union.

She has every right to be off sick, to be paid for being off sick (if that is company policy), to not return to work until she is deemed fit and to block you from any direct contact with her GP. I understand you're getting pressure from all sides but she is totally in the right and protected by law. Basically there is nothing you can do about it and trying to force her to come in is not on.

AndFanjoWasHisNameO Fri 25-Jan-13 23:45:39

Tell the other employees if they're so jealous they can all go and break their own legs and have time off angry
I do know how frustrating this is-have managed large numbers of staff over the years and to see your team barely heads above water whilst someone 'isn't quite sure if they're up to returning yet. Maybe see in a couple of weeks' etc is hideous. However that is just the nature of large organisations. Your job is to adhere to the policy and tick your boxes-not create more problems for the future for yourself shelling out on cabs.
Believe me-employees will gladly fit and bullshit you about being desperate about wanting to come back when they don't but ultimately it's tough. She is off sick, not out dancing on her broken leg on the sly. Just leave her well alone-you really don't want to be accused of bullying once she returns.

I am really confused. The employee has indicated that she would like to be back at work and is only signed off because she can't drive there. Why is there a problem with the OP, the employee, HR, occupational health doc and the GP working together to find a solution that allows the employee to fulfil her desire to return to work earlier with suitable adjustments?

The employee may be lying about wanting to get back to work ASAP, but I think you should be able to take adults at face value and I would certainly rather my employer believed me.

HecateWhoopass Sat 26-Jan-13 07:43:45

Do whatever you see fit. You're a manager. You've had advice from HR. You're surely not going to make a decision based on what some random people on the internet think, are you?

You don't need our agreement or approval or for us to agree with you that she really ought to come back to work.

Do what you think is the right thing to do.

hotbot Sat 26-Jan-13 08:15:52

Follow h.r. Let her come into work late and leave early for extra travel time, her g.p. needs to send a fit note, o.h. Needs to assess her before she returns to work.
She can work in crutches, you just may need to allow her to work around it. Talk to her invite her in for a catch up
It really isn't rocket science and its not your responsibility to pay her taxi fares.

ifancyashandy Sat 26-Jan-13 09:31:02

I was off sick for 4 months with a broken leg. I was non weight baring, on crutches and in a cast following an operation post break. I would have loved to have been able to work but the pain killers I was on made me so floppy and exhausted that they plus the exhaustion of a bad break made it impossible. It's physically tiring being on crutches whilst your body heals a break.

If my managers were trying to get me back to work whilst I was legally signed off sick, I would have sought legal advice.

MostlyFine Sat 26-Jan-13 10:22:18

I had knee surgery last year and was unable to drive but wanted to return to work and they paid for my taxi's to and from. My gp was happy to sign me back knowing that I would not be driving. Obviously this is only anecdotal but, once I stated I would rather come back I was pleased by the offer. I would not have been happy to be offered this without my first saying that I would like to return though so, so long as the employer brings it up I don't see any harm in offering so long as you enquiry about what else may be a hindrance for her

Onewomanandherdog Sat 26-Jan-13 10:24:27

I too was off work for 12-13 weeks for a broken ankle. My company also wanted me back to work as soon as possible. It was about this time of year too and crutches don't work too well in the ice and snow! Steps were a massive problem as was going to the toilet through fire doors that I couldn't 'push'. There is also the issue that I needed to have leg elevated for at least 20 minutes of every hour. Can't carry anything etc. I went in for a chat with my line manager one day and pointed out all these things, sometimes people don't understand what day to day issues are involved.

tiggytape Sat 26-Jan-13 13:01:46

That is very true Onewoman.
Whilst driving is totally impossible with a leg in plaster, many other things are also much harder or more dangerous too. Not being able to carry anything or use your hands when standing up, not being able to open doors that go inwards, not being able stay standing for very long as well as needing to avoid steps and being permanently off balance...

..the chances of falling over or hurting yourself again must be reasonably high when you are struggling around on crutches all day especially in bad weather and especially in a busy work environment.
It is one thing to be able to sit at home with your leg on the sofa and hobble around to get lunch but it is quite another thing to be able to do an 8 hour day at work whilst on crutches. It depends on the job and the building I guess. If it was a ground floor office and she could sit all day with her leg up to work and get a taxi to the door then that is one thing but if it involves standing or moving around or negotiating steps then there is no way a Dr should deem her fit even if the taxi was sorted out - she'll end up doing herself another injury.

MammaTJ Sat 26-Jan-13 13:06:09

there are people who would and have offered lifts

She has refused lifts. She does not want to be at work!

How long has she been off? I would say I would have struggled with any journey, or the thought of a day at a desk for the first three weeks after I broke mine, but after that I was climbing the walls and would have done anything to be able to work.

ll31 Sat 26-Jan-13 13:06:29

if she's signed off it has to be for medical reasons, so ask hr to refer her to company dr. if dr has said she's unfit to work, u encourage/make hercome back early and theres accident , what is ur responsibility? i wouldn't dream of doing that...

tiggytape Sat 26-Jan-13 13:23:01

If she has refused lifts then she does not feel up to returning and that is her right. As others have said, having a broken ankle is much more debilitating than not being able to walk. She may be on strong medication and she will not have use of her hands for all the time she is standing up If you've never been on crutches, it is impossible to imagine how limiting it is:

You cannot carry a handbag even on your shoulder as it falls off as you hobble along
You cannot go up steps without risking falling or stopping to huff and puff after each set - it is exhausting hauling youurself around on your arms all day and effectively jumping up and down stairs.
You cannot open any doors that pull inwards and get through them before they shut on you.
You cannot stay upright without leaning on something and having something to rest your foot on.
You need to keep the leg elevated a lot of the time.
Going to the loo is a nightmare especially if it is a small toilet cubicle as your leg is rigid and immobile.
You cannot carry your lunch back to a table or to your desk.
You cannot carry a drink or cup of tea over.
Getting in and out of a car is an undignified shuffle with one leg left behind until you drag it in after you (and wearing trousers is difficult because of the cast so its not very dignified to clamber in a car in a skirt)
You cannot get the cast wet so have to be careful near water or in the rain
You cannot move fast so things like fire escapes and that would have to be considered.

When you're hobbling around at home and have someone on hand to help you move stuff (or don't need to move anything for the day) and can leave the toilet door open to give your leg more room then it is fine but going anywhere with a leg in plaster is very difficult. I imagine this is why she is signed off.
If you do force her into coming back, she is going to need a lot of help with daily tasks (no doubt her colleagues will begrudge her not being able to carry her own drinks!) and you'd have to do a risk assessment which I am pretty sure would show it is not safe for her to be there.

Of course she says she wants to return because you're all on her case but unless she has a ground floor, sitting down job with ground floor toilets and a kindly collegaue to do all her carrying and fetching, it isn't going to work.

Pigsmummy Sat 26-Jan-13 14:11:31

Could she work from home?

Molehillmountain Sat 26-Jan-13 14:46:04

I don't know what you should do tbh, but bear in mind that whilst the jokes on Facebook are ill advised she may be covering up how she actually feels about the situation with a bit of gallows humour. I didn't do it on Facebook, but when I had a serious illness and effectively got signed off for the duration of my third pregnancy, I used to joke about how much help I was getting and I'd recommend it as a rest cure. No one who knew me would have thought it was anything other than a strategy to get through the toughest time I've ever had. I might have been unable to work but I still had a toddler to give some kind of life to. Hope it gets sorted.

TheInnerSea Thu 31-Jan-13 08:30:51

Thanks for all your input. A quick update-after further discussion with HR and my line manager, she was adv she will go on SSP WEF 1Feb. We have since had a letter from her GP confirming she is fit for all her normal duties,but unable to drive.

She will be back to work tomorrow and paying her own fares on the few days her DP can't drive her.

DontEvenThinkAboutIt Thu 31-Jan-13 09:48:22

Glad it worked out ok.

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