My manager is complaining about my sickness absence record. I had a day off sick last month, and 2.5 days this month. In October 2012 I was off for 3 weeks following an operation. In June 2012 I was off for 2 weeks with a bad back. So yes, I acknowledge that I have been off sick, with unrelated illnesses. My manager has asked me to go to my GP and ask for his opinion on the causes of my "high level of sickness absence" and then to report back to her. I don't feel comfortable about being asked to do this, but I have been threatened with "taking this further" if I don't agree.
My company has a policy which states that 6 days or more of sickness absence in a 12 month period is enough to trigger "action" leading to possible dismissal" Can anyone tell me where I stand legally?
All sounds perfectly normal to me. If your company has a trigger system for disciplinary hearings for 6 or more days, then it sounds like you've done extraordinarily well to have had so much time off without problems so far.
It's slightly unusual for an employer to ask the employee to ask their GP and report back. More usual practice is for the employer to write to the GP (or an Occupational Health specialist, or other medical specialist if appropriate) and ask for opinions on causes of absence and how the employee can best be supported.
I would suggest you say to your manager you would prefer he/she wrote directly to your GP (you'll need to give your permission of course) for advice rather than getting it third hand from you.
I can't see any value in you refusing to cooperate. You don't have to allow your manager to contact your GP, but if you don't, your GP won't be able to communicate to your employer any opinions they may have about your conditions being coincidental and unrelated, and your current and projected fitness for work.
I have a calculator for sickness absence. if you're full time then your absence rate for the last 12 months is 11.15% assuming you work 37.5 hours.
That is very high. If I were your manager I would have put you on to sickness monitoring some time ago - meaning that really you need to have no time off sick at all during the monitoring period. More than a couple of shifts and we would start moving through more formal stages and without improvement yes you should expect it to lead to dismissal.
Can you check your company policy in more detail? I agree that your levels seem high, but I'm wondering if your manager is following the standard policy.
Ours is that people have to have a back to work interview after any uncertified sick leave from the third instance in a 12 month period onwards (managers have discretion to do it from the first instance if they want).
If all unrelated (i.e. just general bad health) it's put (tactfully) to the employee that they need to manage their health more carefully as they can't constantly be missing work that they are paid for.
If it comes out that there is an underlying condition then the company needs to know in case there are ramifications/alterations required (i.e. back problems, provide proper seating, diabetic, provide facilities for injecting if need be. Safety for the employee and others needs to be considered). The employee does not have to disclose to their line manager but needs to talk to HR in any case.
We have a company doctor that we can refer employees to, if their sick leave is too high. I think your manager should really be getting HR involved rather than sending you back to your doctor - if your leave was all certified, the doctor can't really say anything else that will be helpful.
Just to point out that a LOT of people believe that if sick leave is genuine then the employer has no grounds for action - i.e. if the person can't help it. However, if a person has agreed to a contract of employment, then they have to stick to it. Most contracts allow for reasonable leave. Excessive sick leave, even if it's genuine, means they are breaking their contract and causing the company losses. If companies had to hold on to all employees like this, they'd go out of business - or else only offer fixed contracts to all, and would not renew for anyone with a poor sick leave record.
Thank you for your replies. Just to clarify, in November 2012 I was set a target of no more than 2 days off sick in the next 6 months, but unfortunately, I've been ill again and so have exceeded my target. So basically, I can be dismissed for genuine sickness? That's a real worry for me.
I've worked for this company for over 25 years. I don't want to be off sick, and I only ever take time off sick if I genuinely cannot work.
The recent time-off has been due to Norovirus, and what I presume to be another viral illness giving me a high temperature/shivery/shaking and generally unwell.
I've been to work with some really dreadful colds, probably infected the rest of the office, but have done so to avoid taking time off sick.
I'm always washing my hands, in an attempt to avoid catching anything and even keep and use anti-bac hand gel on my desk.
I take vitamin C, I really don't know what more I can do apart from getting rid of my children, who always have coughs/colds, tummy bugs, the usual things that children get!
You can be dismissed for genuine sickness yes, but it would be only fair to do so if your sickness absence was such a problem that it became clear you were not realistically able to do your job. That would usually mean a lot more time off than you've had. Although many employers would give employees with too much sickness absence formal warnings, they would be a lot more cautious about dismissing.
It sounds like you have had four 'instances' of sickness in the last year - at my former place of work the process would kick in after three instances in any rolling 12 month period. But the process only begins with checking that you're ok, there's no ongoing H&S issue such as stress or underlying health condition.
It should be fine if you just do as they say, but in case it's not, keep a detailed record of all the communications and incidences...
Agree that I need to read the sickness policy in full to understand the procedure. The ridiculous thing is that worrying about my sickness levels is actually very stressful! The 2 week absence was of course certified, as was the 3 weeks post-op recovery. Maybe I just have generally poor health. I have 2 children, one of whom is disabled and I am also the main Carer for my disabled mother, so not much time left to look after myself!