occupational health check and job offer withdrawn

(40 Posts)
tiredmummy34 Thu 14-Aug-14 21:10:51

Advice anyone? I got offered a job recently but I got news today that they had withdrawn the offer because of my sickness record. I had 3 months off in 2011 for PND (which they say they are not interested in) and 43 days over 5 years for, well, the germ warfare your kids inflict on you when they are young. No discussion, request for GPs records, nothing, just withdrawn. A university as well, where you might expect better things. I spoke to Occy Health on the phone and explained the situation. I'm very upset, but also wondering whether they are just a mum unfriendly employer.

GirlsonFilm Thu 14-Aug-14 21:18:29

As a hr manager I have to say an average of almost two weeks sickness absence a year would ring alarm bells if I was recruiting. It would also more of a problem to have a few days here and there as opposed to six weeks off for a broken leg.
I'm a mum of 2dcs so do sympathise.

tiredmummy34 Thu 14-Aug-14 21:24:06

But it removes all context. I perform and do everything that's needed and more regardless of the bugs. Don't you think as a HR person you'd want to discuss that with someone before swinging the axe.

LuluJakey1 Thu 14-Aug-14 21:29:18

This would ring huge alarm bells with me, as someone who has responsibility for recruitment of staff. I would not be prepared to take the risk.

Sorry, I know it isn't what you want to here.

From an organisations point of view, a poor attendance record is an issue- whatever the reason- and one that stretches across5 years is a big red flag.

LuluJakey1 Thu 14-Aug-14 21:30:37

And, no, I would not want to discuss it. We pay staff to be at work, not to complete their work despite significant absence.

coalscuttle Thu 14-Aug-14 21:30:40

What did they when you rang and explained? 43 days sounds an awful lot when not all part of one illness.

tiredmummy34 Thu 14-Aug-14 21:34:39

I'm very sorry I started this thread.

tiredmummy34 Thu 14-Aug-14 21:37:07

And, by the way, it wasn't stretched over 5 years, 2/3 was this year (and I still got all my stuff done).

MontserratCaballe Thu 14-Aug-14 21:39:43

Sorry to hear your kids have been sick. Have you shared childcare with your partner? Is some of your sickness really your children not being able yo go to childcare?

So, 30 days or so this year? That's six weeks. You'd have been let go from my work by now, unless it was one period of sickness do you know about the Bradford Score? Most employers use it to manage sickness absence.

BotoxBitch Thu 14-Aug-14 21:43:21

43 days shock wow. Just general sickness with the kids? I take it is because you've chosen to keep them off with you rather than put them on childcare?

I'm sorry if it feels harsh but I've withdrawn job offers due to poor attendance records, it's just too big a risk to take.

LuluJakey1 Thu 14-Aug-14 21:50:57

You would be way down an attendance monitoring procedure route with us and would probably have had first and possibly final warning by now.

Pico2 Thu 14-Aug-14 23:06:27

I don't think that level of sickness is automatically part of being a mum. I probably have 2 or 3 sick days a year in a normal year. I've had pneumonia this year which will have resulted in a total of 7 days in the year, but that is an unusual level of sickness for me, even with a DC.

RocknRollNerd Fri 15-Aug-14 13:03:53

Are all these days days when you have been sick yourself (ie you're not taking sick leave when your kids are ill instead of annual leave/making alternative child care arrangements etc). If so then that does seem like a heck of a lot of time off. I guess the concern would be that you take sick leave at the drop of a hat (eg the first sign of a sniffle) rather than when you are genuinely too ill to be at work.

Why would this make them a 'mum unfriendly employer' if it's you that's ill not your kids then it's got sod all to do with you being a parent. Whilst it's true that kids do tend to catch everything going in the fist few years of childcare/school most healthy parents do not catch everything their kids do so badly that they can't work for 5 weeks in a year.

If you are taking sick leave when you're healthy and your kids are sick then to many employers that would be a huge problem - sick leave is for when employees are sick; annual leave, unpaid leave and emergency dependents leave (to arrange alternative childcare) are for when your children are ill.

AbsolutelyCrushed Fri 15-Aug-14 13:06:02

Christ. I'd have been let go a long, long time ago if my sickness averaged to nearly 10 days a year, and I get some additional leeway because I'm disabled.

Is there any context that you could provide upfront next time, to make it seem a little better?

PeterParkerSays Fri 15-Aug-14 13:23:06

What were you hoping to say to them to make them change their mind? "I'll take vitamin D"?

If 2/3 of your 43 days' absence has been in the past year, that's far more than standard children passing on lurgies - they will have loads of other parents as employees so be able to compare their sickness records with yours. At a university, you also get Freshers' Flu doing the rounds every autumn when the new first years arrive, if your immune system can't cope with small children, you'll be pole-axed by that as well and the autumn term is really busy.

Not sure how this withdrawal is relevant to being "mum-friendly" as presumably your DH / DP got the same bugs as you off the kids? These things do tend to circulate around families. Mum-friendly is about agreeing to flexible working patterns, not giving you cart blanche to be off sick for huge tranches of time. And the "I still got my work done" thing is a red herring - you would presumably have been able to be given more / different work in addition to the work you did get done had you been there rather than off sick. Workloads are rarely finite.

PenisesAreNotPink Fri 15-Aug-14 13:39:04

I also think it's too much sick leave and I'm wondering if your new employer is thinking that you don't have adequate childcare arrangements in place ie. that you're actually having to take 3 people's worth of sick leave to care for others.

I totally understand why that feels unfair.

CabbagePatchCheryl Fri 15-Aug-14 13:47:31

Poor OP! I think people have made the point (extensively and not very sympathetically) that your sickness record would be a deal breaker for a lot of employers and that employers don't give a crap about the context. Perhaps it would be constructive now to think about how you can go forward, given that your record is what it is - you can't change it.

I had a very high-powered professional job and pretty much every year I was in trouble for high sickness absence. I was very good at my job so it never got taken any further than my boss "having a word" but the stress of it made me utterly miserable. I could never figure out why I was always getting poorly - I just seemed to have a really rubbish immune system.

After 6 years in that job, I realised I had grown to completely hate it and was pretty depressed. I left and set up my own business and have only had one day off with sickness in 4 years.

I suppose what I'm saying is that your mental health can really affect your physical health - could that be the case for you? Perhaps you need to think about what is going to improve your overall wellbeing so you can get back on track.

PS I'm really sorry your job offer was withdrawn - you must be very upset.

tiredmummy34 Fri 15-Aug-14 15:08:55

Thank you CabbagePatchCheryl that is the one constructive reply I've seen here. My field of work has changed considerably from when I first went into it. Used to be liberal and democratic, now its managerial and disciplinary. Its now a 70+ hours kind of job. And these changes have happened at a time I decided to have children. Its a shock having this happen (and for all you people who want to say I'm a shirker I never had any sick leave before having kids, which is why my current work has not made a fuss). However I might in the long-term thank them for it. Who wants to work in a place that only thinks about statistics and not what your (often copious) achievements are.

RocknRollNerd Fri 15-Aug-14 15:20:27

So what did you want from us? A lot of us gave advice which was that based on the information you've given us it did sound a lot of sickness and something that would raise alarm bells. Some of us asked questions to understand a bit more about why you'd had so much time off (then we might have been able to offer advice).

Now you're just sounding stroppy and bitter. The reality is that all fields of work have changed in the last 15 years - jobs are more scarce, people are more qualified in terms of level of education etc the old cliche about 'well if it comes down to two candidates identical in all other respects' is true. It might be unfortunate and as you say it was a shock but it's the reality.

Out of interest what exactly did you say to Occ Health - did you just say as you pretty much did in your OP 'my level of sickness is part of having small kids, deal with it' if so then you won't have helped yourself. Ditto if you went on the offensive about how it didn't use to be like that, it doesn't matter to your current employer, they're not supporting working mums - they wouldn't care, they're not your current employer, they're taking you on and need to know you'll be reliable. If you offered a plan and some very strong assurances that it wouldn't be like this going forward then that might be different.

What you're also finding out is that goodwill isn't something you start off with in a new job. Your current employer knows you, and as you say knows that you can get the work done. They have been astonishingly flexible to accommodate that level of sickness so far (as you can see most of us work for places that wouldn't). If the situation with your children and the 'germ warfare' isn't something that's going to change in the foreseeable future then you probably need to think about if now really is the time to change jobs.

BristolRover Fri 15-Aug-14 15:23:09

If you think that's the most constructive response here, you're deliberately blocking the helpful responses because they're not what you want to hear. Sometimes what you don't want to hear is the useful stuff.

Calling Hermione Weasley to the thread, she will have superb advice from an employer point of view.

(if you can do your set tasks in 10 months of the year - less 6 weeks sickness, 4 weeks holiday - just imagine what you can achieve if you get decent childcare cover and don't take the sickness. You'll get a promotion to cover the childcare costs)

LuluJakey1 Fri 15-Aug-14 15:32:50

You are missing the point OP. This is not a personal attack on you by anyone. You asked a question about how a prospective employer's negative reaction to your sickness record.
People are responding to say that, in their experience the employer's reaction is not unusual and they think your sickness absence record would be an issue where they are employed.
Employers pay people to be at work. If you have all this time off and still complete your work then I would suggest you should really be being given more work. If I could complete my full-time job on 4 days a week, it is not a full-time job and should not be paid as such.
If you are sick yourself all of this time, it is reasonable for a prospective employer to find that a risk they do not want to take.
If you are looking after sick children, it is reasonable for them to find that an unacceptable amount of time to have off. They employ people because they need the staff at work.
I don't understand what you are upset about. Lots of people work really long hours. Me and my DH regularly work 12 hour + days. Lots of people do. And lots of people don't have jobs.
Chin up and stop feeling badly done to.

tiredmummy34 Fri 15-Aug-14 15:40:50

Actually RocknRollNerd while I don't agree with the managerialism and presenteeism culture of our society I'm not an idiot. I know what the employers view is, which is why I've tried to explain the context to them. I also know that they need assurances, which I gave. It made no difference, which is why I think they are not quite au fait with the equalities act. I found the response I referred to constructive because it was thoughtful about prompting thinking about why I'm getting so sick.

There is a lot of good thinking out there about working mothers - see here www.slatergordon.co.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2014/08/working-mothers-careers-derailed-after-becoming-pregnant/ - which challenges employers perspectives.

CabbagePatchCheryl Fri 15-Aug-14 15:41:09

I think some of posters are confusing "advice" with "opinion". I'm not criticising - the OP did seem to be implicitly asking whether she'd been unfairly treated. But after several people (rightly) had given the opinion that her level of sickness was probably a deal-breaker for a lot of employers, what actual advice was given?

In fairness, I saw someone querying whether some context could be given up front next time, which was a good point. My point was that the OP needs to figure out how to go forward, not just be lectured at that she's had a lot of time off - that can't be changed.

OP - I'd say it depends whether you are generally happy in your job. If so, I'd advise staying put, trying to suss out what is the root cause of your ill health (is it mental health? Are you under too much strain at home? Do you have an underlying health issue?) and trying to work on improving your absence record so that next time you apply for another job, you can demonstrate a significant improvement. You may, as a previous poster said, have to be more proactive in discussing it with the potential employer before you see OH.

If you're unhappy in your job (which it sounds like maybe you are), then maybe a career rethink is needed. You will, though, still have the potential obstacle of your sickness record to overcome, so it might not be as simple as moving jobs. Of course, I don't know what's feasible for you but some things to think about would be retraining? becoming self-employed? going part-time?

Hope you can find a way to move on - I know how horrible it is to feel stuck.

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