Does my employer HAVE to visit me at home while I'm off sick?

(40 Posts)
PavlovtheCat Wed 26-Jun-13 10:58:21

I had surgery last week, planned - well, one day's notice but I knew it was happening, as did my employers.

I have been given a Fit Note signing me off as unfit for 4wks, this might, or might not be extended depending on how I recover. Again this was expected and my employers were already aware I would be off for around this amount of time.

I had an email saying glad it all went well, from HR manager, who I copied in to update email sent to boss. She has said that she and my boss will need to do a home visit at some point during my time off.

Is this compulsory? My reasons for it are: the house is a mess, as I have had spinal surgery, DH is working like a dog to keep on top of it, care for the children, and me, while also working. Something has to give. I am aware that they are not coming here for that reason etc etc, and I shouldn't care, but I do. People DO judge, whether they should or not. I also like to keep my work and my home life private. I have had enough intrusions in my home life from work as it is over the years due to work grievances a long time ago, death of my mother, maternity leave and issues with me 'breastfeeding too long' (no kidding). I have kept them in the loop about my spinal condition, but they have wanted so much information from me, they know the ins and outs better than some of close friends! I feel exposed with them coming into my home. It feels like an intrusion that is unnecessary in the days of email and telephones.

I do get that there is an element of needing to look at how to manage my return to work, but that can be done at work? And, I tried to talk to them about this before I had surgery, as it was always going to result in a phased return with certain things in place to support my recovery while having me at work soonest. Those things are not unpredictable, they could have been anticipated, and OH involved before I went on leave, but they chose not to do anything at the time.

Anyway, ranting. I now feel anxious about them coming to visit and worrying about how we will clean the house. It's going to pray on my mind.

I just don't see what can be gained by having them come to my house - i can understand it if it was an unplanned absence where there needs to be things looked at about impact on work etc, but, it seems to be due to policy rather than any real reason given.

So can I say that I would prefer they didn't do a home visit and just let me get on with my recovery, but that an OH referral would be welcome to prepare for my return?

LazyMonkeyButler Wed 26-Jun-13 11:02:31

I've never heard of this before, but I'm not an expert.

It does seem unduly invasive & FWIW, I wouldn't welcome it either!

Is a meeting in the office before your return to work likely to be practical? IME, that would be the usual way.

They sound VVVVU!

Check your company HR policy, is there a HR dept?

A union rep you can talk to?

I was off for 8 weeks after surgery a few years ago - I got a phone call a week (officially) from my manager, and several calls/emails a week from work colleagues/friends just to stay in touch.

They may have done this with someone else in work - doesn't mean they can do it to you.

Also I'd put everything in writing from now on - I'd include a query as to why, when you contacted them on X Y and Z dates to discuss your impending surgery, did they not <then> prepare for your return to work.

FFS that kind of intrusion to your family life could stress you so much you could end up off sick even longer... ( you could hint at this wink )

PavlovtheCat Wed 26-Jun-13 11:06:26

lazy I would be happy to meet at work just prior to returning. I am also happy to discuss, set the plans in place for my return to work earlier. I don't see that this needs to be done at home.

In fact, returning to my place of work would be helpful prior to actually returning on duties, as it will help me and my employers see what issues might arise, such as if I can manage the heavy duty security doors in the building!

I have no issues with communicating with them, just not at home!

It was a couple of years ago but I had 7 weeks signed off work due to surgery and never had a visit from anyone - rang them a couple of times to let them know how things were progressing, but no home visits! In fact, thinking back I was off for 5 weeks in 2010 due to a chronic chest infection and didn't have a visit then either, so I can't believe it's a legal requirement - sounds more like a quirk of your particular company.

LalyRawr Wed 26-Jun-13 11:09:15

Check your HR policy.

Our company has a policy of a home visit after a long term sickness. So first week of sickness is self certified. Next 12 weeks is Fit note. After that a home visit is arranged (at the employees convienance) to see how things are going, if there's any improvement, if a return to work is likely.

Though at that point the employee would have been off sick for over three months.

PeterParkerSays Wed 26-Jun-13 11:10:07

As a manager with a staff member currently off work following spinal surgery, I can assure you I have no plans to do a home visit. I'm not even allowed to keep her address on file should I wish to write to her.

She phones me after each FP appointment, so I know how she is, I e-mail her about things like her Occ Health referral, which we're putting in place now for a staged return to work later in the summer, and her partner phones me if something unexpected happens e.g. when she was admitted to hospital.

It seems barmy. This is what e-mail is for.

PeterParkerSays Wed 26-Jun-13 11:10:45

FP?

sorry, GP appointment.

PavlovtheCat Wed 26-Jun-13 11:10:55

I know there is policy about home visits for long term sick, which is termed as 28 days or more. But, I have been off for 5wks before with the condition that led to surgery, and they didn't suggest visiting me! But, then it was 1wk off, then another 2wks, then another 2wks. We managed phased return when I got back.

I work for a government related organisation that is hanging on by it's finger nails and in a state of turmoil, everyone is overworked and firefighting, so I get why they want to get things sorted for my return, but, on that same note, that's why I tried to get them to sort out my return properly, so were not firefighting my absence and return with everything else!

I am glad I am not sounding unreasonable about it.

flowery Wed 26-Jun-13 11:14:58

"This is what e-mail is for"

Well I disagree there entirely. Purely email communication with someone off long term sick is often not a good idea. People often feel isolated from work and a home visit to discuss how the person is and how the employer can be supporting them can be very useful.

On the other hand, Pavlov if you are not comfortable with a home visit you should say so. If you are happy having those discussions on the phone and by visiting the office, that ought to be fine. Other things I've done in the past include meeting someone on neutral territory such as a local coffee shop or similar, when people have not been comfortable with a home visit.

Are you receiving any enhanced sick pay?

PavlovtheCat Wed 26-Jun-13 11:17:56

peterparker that's what I thought would be happening, and happy to keep in touch re GP appts etc. Email is a perfectly usual way of doing things, and has a paper trail. They haven't done any OH referral, and not sure if they are going to. I would think they should, as my employers will only agree a 4wk paid phased return unless OH has said otherwise, and I don't know at this stage how long my duties will be amended for/how so.

Good to hear from a current employer in this situation.

PavlovtheCat Wed 26-Jun-13 11:20:23

flowery happy to talk to them on the phone. They can even take me out for a coffee! I just feel they know so much about me, my private life, more than I feel they should in order to do my job already, I don't want more intrusion.

Yes, I have enhanced sick pay, up to 6 months, of which I have used some due to sickness related to this condition already.

PavlovtheCat Wed 26-Jun-13 11:25:13

and I feel like I am being awkward and putting up obstacles, I have been seen as a trouble maker in the past as I am not big on being bullied by managers who don't follow their own guidelines for staff care, and I don't want to be seen as this now. I just don't want them here, and I am a bit tired of having to explain my reasoning with them.

I will email her and say I would prefer we met at work or somewhere neutral as suggested by Flowery

PavlovtheCat Wed 26-Jun-13 11:29:51

I would also get it if I didn't know when I was returning. But, I was clear that I would be off for between 4-6wks, barring complications, of which there have been none and so those 4-6wks remain the same. It's quite straightforward - have surgery, recover for 4-6wks, return to work on phased return, details to be determined in the week or two prior to returning over the telephone, or by meeting in the office, following OH contact.

PavlovtheCat Wed 26-Jun-13 11:31:29

so, nothing to be gained by coming to my house apart from seeing it trashed by children and having to sit on my granny seat if they need to use the bathroom grin

If they want to support me, send me a card.

Solo Wed 26-Jun-13 11:38:24

I am currently off sick with a registered health issue and I got a letter dated the very day that I went sick saying that they have no phone number for me (they do) and that they would need one in order to keep a check on me and arrange a home visit in order to speed my return to work up!
They will not be making a home visit to me; not on your life! In years gone by, I've had 7 months off sick with the same illness and same employer and they never made a home visit.

I don't believe they can insist legally.
I hope you are not in too much pain and discomfort Pav.

mistlethrush Wed 26-Jun-13 11:39:34

"Dear Emplyers, I very much appreciate you wanting to come and see me when I am laid up at home. However, I know how busy you are, and I don't want to use up any more of your time than necessary.

I'm going to have to come in to see about various things like whether I can get through the doors on my own so that we can plan a phased return to work plan that is suitable and sensible, so I would suggest that it would be much easier for you if I do this at the same time as seeing you in the office.

At the moment, I suggest that one of the last two days covered by my FIT note would probably be the best, but I will let you know if my GP thinks that I should take any more time before coming back as soon as possible and rearrange the date at that stage'....

flowery Wed 26-Jun-13 11:40:42

I think the key is to ensure you are remaining cooperative. If you proactively offer to speak to them, attend work, meet them elsewhere, they will have very little to complain about. It's when people not only refuse a home visit but also refuse any contact at all that there is reason for concern, and things like enhanced sick pay might be jeopardised.

BackforGood Wed 26-Jun-13 11:42:38

When I was off with cancer last year, I was delighted that my manager made the journey across the city to visit me to plan my return to work. She brought me a lovely plant and some bits and bobs from colleagues, and - oddly enough - she didn't go routing around the house checking it for cleanliness, nor running her finger through the dust on the top of the TV, she came to see how I was doing and what they could do to make my return to work easier. It was a relaxed, pleasant conversation and a couple of forms that needed to be signed.
I presumed that she offered to come to me, to make sure that I didn't have to drive all the way over to work, as a kindness and consideration to me, and to make sure I wasn't feeling pressured to be 'out and about' before I was ready.
However, as others have said, I'm sure you could arrange to meet somewhere outside the home.

Solo Wed 26-Jun-13 11:48:34

For some people (me included), it feels very intrusive.

Rockchick1984 Wed 26-Jun-13 11:48:50

Just wanted to say, when I was off in my previous job my manager wanted to come out and have a meeting at my house. I refused and said I'd prefer to meet somewhere neutral, she tried to tell me it was policy so I rang her line manager who assured me it could be done elsewhere smile

LadyInDisguise Wed 26-Jun-13 11:55:30

Are they worried that you will stay off sick even though you could actually work?
I can't see any other reason for coming to your house otherwise.

PavlovtheCat Wed 26-Jun-13 12:02:00

backforgood oh it would be nice if I felt they were coming in order to bring me some nice bits and bobs, flowers or such like from my colleagues, but no, I don't think so. My colleagues are thoroughly pissed at my sporadic attendance over the last months and they have made that rather clear, I expect, as this has been a long time coming (in that I have waited 18wks to see neuro to discuss surgery, followed by 3wks before actual surgery) they just want it over with and for me to start pulling my weight and not being a burden.

I guess it depends on the reason why they are coming - if it were a colleague coming with my manager, and I felt missed and that they gave a toss other than in terms of how my absence is affecting workloads (because they piled me high with cases to 100% capacity just before I had surgery so have to put that work elsewhere) I would happily have them come and visit, to discuss return to work. But, that's not the case. I have experienced HR enough to be cynical about their intentions.

And, I know they won't be rooting through my things to check for tidiness, but with two young children, it's going to be thoroughly grubby, unless DH spends a day tidying before they come, and I don't want him to have to do that on top of everything else for my employers to visit.

PavlovtheCat Wed 26-Jun-13 12:10:29

lady I can't imagine so. They have seen me at work when I probably shouldn't have been. I have worked very closely with the HR manager and my previous boss (changed recently to due staff promotion) over the months in relation to absences levels, putting in place changes to help me be at work (new chair, files moved to waist height) and they know how hard I have tried to be at work normally. I have not done that before, there is absolutely no reason for her to think this would change now and I only had the surgery last week so not like they would think I'm doing that now.

I have had two 'formal meetings' re absences due to meeting extended trigger points (extended due to disability) and on both of those occasions, no further action as they are happy that I am doing all I can to be at work. My HR Manager has even asked for it to be minuted that she has been impressed with how I have conducted myself over the last few months. She and I have known each other in HR matters for many years, and she has a pretty good judge of me, which is not someone who takes the piss, and not someone who likes others (managers) to do so either.

PavlovtheCat Wed 26-Jun-13 12:15:40

lady and I'm not sure coming to my house would prove either way if I am fit to work anyway. If you saw me now (well, not right now, I am in bed on the laptop wink) but if I were up and dressed, it would be easy to think I was fine to work, as I look well, I am walking, and reasonably mobile with my steps. So, all they would see is me perched on a chair looking well. And I really do, especially compared to how I looked prior to surgery - in constant pain which contorted my general facial features, on high levels of pain meds, walking with a stick, fed up at the constance of it all. Now, I look in much less pain, not walking with a stick, on slightly less pain meds, feel happy as I now potentially have my life back. That doesn't mean I am fit to work now. I can't twist, bend, lift, bear weight of any kind other than a drink, can't drive, sit for long periods, stand for long periods, and can't function without meds.

They would be able to see all that when I walk without limping and screwing my face up in pain toward them in a coffee shop, still won't make me fit for work.

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