H has been summoned to disciplinary(72 Posts)
I will try to not make this long.
H has been in and out of work since the beginning of last year due to depression. He has on all of these occasions been signed off from work by his doctor. We had a bit of a ride getting him on the right antidepressant and unfortunately this one he is currently on doesn't seem to be working any more. He has attended work OH twice, both times he was managing his depression. The last time was at the end of last year and at the time he was ok when he attended. Not long after a few things happened - I was made redundant and he had a big increase of stress at work. This resulted in him being signed off work again after Christmas and he is currently still off.
He has provided sick note for the absences, though some have been late. The main problem has been him keeping in touch with work, which he hasn't really done. He knows he must do this and tries to, I have seen him try and ring work but he hasn't been able to bring himself to do it. He is the same about answering the phone and that's not just about work but pretty much anyone. He has stuck his head in the sand, he doesn't seem to be getting any better and now we are on the precipice of him getting fired (I think).
Along with the letter inviting him to a meeting there was bits of policies and also evidence from the managers point of view of what they have been doing. Now having gone through all of this with him I will say that H hasn't done what he has meant to have done. Part of him being ill is the whole being unable to communicate effectively and they do not accept texts as a way of keeping in touch, which he struggles he even do that sometimes. Similarly there have been things that management have said they would do but haven't done. That doesn't make H not doing what he's meant to any better, I'm just putting that there.
I've read through all the paper work, I have tried to take it all in, but I just don't know what we can do. He was trying to focus on getting better to go back to work and then starting looking for another job. Part of his job is a cause of his depression. I have begged and pleaded with him to get in touch with work, I know it's not his fault that he is ill. The letter has stated that he can take someone with him but he isn't part of the Union and there isn't a work colleague he feels he can take with him. How does he prepare for this? I am so stressed at the moment. He hasn't been receiving any form of sick pay for the past two months and we are severely struggling on my wage alone. I'm sorry if this is all over the place, my head is pretty much all over the place at the moment and we have not very long to get him prepared for this meeting. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Is it a disciplinary or an absence review meeting?
You sound very stressed. Sorry you are going through this. I don't live in the UK currently, so take my comment with a hefty pinch of salt, but I think that you can actually go with him or anyone else, because the purpose it to have a "witness" of sorts. Best of luck
How long has been employed with them and does the letter say whether it's a medical review meeting or an investigative meeting?
It's definitely a disciplinary. The letter says 'I propose to consider possible disciplinary action against you in accordance with so and so disciplinary and policy procedures. ....This meeting is to determine whether disciplinary action should be taken against you in accordance with the groups disciplinary policy.' It goes on to say that he has demonstrated a serious breach of the requirements to keep in touch with work due to sickness. It mentions failing to provide valid sickness certification but as far as I know he has covered all the absence with sick notes from the doctor which I have dropped off most of them. It goes on to say the absence from work has been unauthorised from the end of February.
After this it then givens details of when he was in breach. I think he has had one formal review in the past and an informal investigatory meeting.
He's been employed by them for over 3 years. Thank you so much for your replies.
I should also mention that the letter is from a different branch manager, someone who he does not know and will be having the meeting with.
Is he the member of a union? If not it might be worth joining one
He needs to get some advice - can he / you call ACAS?
Why is he not getting SSP?
Has he been covered by a sick note since the end of Feb?
Also, what does it say about who he can take to the meeting? He should be able to have some one with him, that person can't talk on his behalf or anything but more as support for him and someone who will remember what was said and in what content.
Has he had welfare meetings with them whilst off work?
A union wouldn't help on an existing case
Have you legal insurance in your house insurance ?
Do you think the disciplinary is more focussed on his lack of contact or do you think they are making moves to end his employment due to his illness making him unfit for the role for which he was employed?
Also, bearing in mind how you've described his illness is your dh going to be able to attend a Disciplinary Meeting? He certainly should not go alone in any event.
One of us will call ACAS about it yes, most likely him but I can't push him into calling right now. Since reading the letter he's completely gone back into himself.
His SSP has run out. We're not sure if his return to work has been logged properly in some instances and although he did ring head office the person he spoke to said he needed to be in work again for a full 12 months before he would receive any sick pay again. The policies he got sent did briefly mention the sick pay was a rolling 12 month period but I don't know what this means.
He has been covered by sick notes yes. I think there have been four of them since the end of Feb and the most recent one covers him until the end of this month. One or two of them have been late to reach work as he was struggling to leave the house to go to appointments.
It says he can take a colleague, union rep or an official from the union but he isn't part of the Union. Even if he joined now my understanding is that they could only provide advice for him due to this being an ongoing thing?
He hasn't had welfare meetings no. Part of this is due to him being unable to leave the house and unable to ring/answer the phone. When he was back at work last year his line manager said they would have weekly meetings but according to H these didn't materialise.
Sorry, I took too long replying. I don't know if we have legal with our house insurance. The house insurance is something H sorted out when it was up for renewal and I'm sure he went for the basics. Long story short he works for a bank and he changed to some of their products - house insurance, bank accounts. The house insurance we had before did have legal cover but I don't think this one does.
From the sounds of the letter it will almost definitely be focused on his lack of contact which I think may constitute as gross misconduct? He would be covered by the disability discrimination I think due to the length he has been ill. I'm worried about him attending. He says he will attend but doesn't know who to take with him. I've asked him if he wants me to take the day off and take him even though I cannot sit in but he has said not to.
Has he been offered support from Occupational Health? Most large companies have a scheme.
I don't think the late sick notes will have helped, he could have scanned them over or asked you to post them. Did he ring or email each time he had it renewed? Iirc 12 months rolling means that the look at absence over the past 12 months rather than a calendar or financial year and there will be a maximum amount of paid ssp during that period. It wouldn't be unusual to look at retirement on grounds of ill health after such a long absence especially if it is unlikely he will be fit to return.
You can contact them on his behalf.
Also you could ask GP to write to the employer saying that pressure to attend and contact exacerbates the condition and slows recovery, and perhaps suggest a contact plan, or state a period of absence of say three weeks and a review afterwards.
I was in a situation where the employer pressured me to attend a meeting whilst off for stress, and I just refused. I got a small payout in the end with union support.
The question that might be worth considering is whether if work and all the crap went away, would his mood lift, ie is the lack of resolution and feeling 'at fault' bad for his self esteem?
If the stress is work related, then you could view the disciplinary as a hard negotiation tactic, so perhaps a protected discussion about ways forward eg reference reflecting achievements before stress illness and up to date sick pay, traded for easy resignation and no action against employer for stress issue?
You might test the case for a stress breach of contract with ACAS depending on the original problem, and/or if he has notified them of depression, ask them about which reasonable adjustments they made. If there were none, this might strengthen your position.
Also have occupational health been used? What were their recommendations?
Asking these questions as his advocate in a list and asking for documentation and relevant emails so you can advise him might make them concerned about legal action, and may also strengthen your negotiating position.
Talk to a union. They can only say no, but they may just help especially if they are underrepresented with the employer as they can use opportunities like this to rehearse engagement with them.
Just some ideas, but
It is also worth considering whether he is covered by the Equalities Act, formerly the Disability Discrimination Act if his depression is long lasting and affects his day to day activities, which it sounds like it does. Whilst is does not stop disciplinary action/dismissal on capability grounds, it does mean that an employer needs to make 'reasonable adjustments', which in your DH's case could mean some kind of support plan, allowance for his depression with regards to contact whilst off sick etc. They would need to show that they had done this in case of a subsequent Employment Tribunal. My own DH was dismissed from a job after a period of long term sickness and I used to be a union rep so I have some knowledge.
Once SSP has run out, I think he should be able to put a claim in for Employment Support Allowance. Do look into this. And give ACAS a call to get some up to date advoce.
You can take a solicitor or barrister, if you can afford it, and in my case they could answer on my behalf. The house insurance is very likely to include legal cover. If they didn't fulfill the weekly meetings promise (which you can position as promised reasonable adjustment) then you could argue they had breached their obligations re disability discrimination?
argh. I have been in this situation as an employer and it is so hard on both parties. From their point of view they are trying to run a business and they have no idea if their staff member is going to turn up at any given moment. From your perspective, well, he's sick! I think it's most likely that this disciplinary is happening as a step to final dismissal ie they are laying a paper trail.
I think it depends on what you'd like the outcome of this to be ie does he WANT to keep his job?
If not, I would be tempted to ask for a without prejudice meeting prior to the disciplinary where you find out more about what's driving this and intimate that you are open to a compromise.
If he does want to stay, you need to lawyer up and fast. The only way you're getting a reprieve is if you throw every last piece of disability legislation at them and make it too risky to proceed.
Sorry if that sounds harsh but you do need to protect yourself (or your poor husband), and as an employer that's what I'd expect too.
Either way he can have a companion attend the meeting with him, although that person cannot make representations on his behalf. If he has a trusted mate at work that would be perfect - someone who knows the lie of the land is best.
Rolling 12 month sick period just means the number of paid sick leave days you are entitled to in any 12 month period so if you were entitled to 20 days paid sick leave and took them all in June you would not be entitled to any further paid sick leave days until after the end of June the following year.
Where i work extended sickness absence is dealt with under the disciplinary policy so it sounds like his.is the same. Don't worry too much at this stage. I doubt very much that they could legitimately sack him at this stage. It is a matter of them getting the ball rolling though for him either to return to work or be dismissed. I would attend with him of I were you. Good luck, hope it all goes ok
Sorry for the delay in response, I will go through now and then post a reply. Thank you so much for your help all of you, I really appreciate it
Check with acas about whether the requirement to keep in touch is reasonable
The first time he went to occupational health they pretty much referred it back to branch as a management problem. H work had referred him to OH saying it was just stress when he had been diagnosed by the doctor with anxiety and depression. His managers knew this yet the persisted to say it was just stress for a while. At the time of both occupational health visits he was in a good place and all they said was if this continues there will be no problems. Unfortunately after both of those visits something has happened to put H on a downwards spiral again (1st time his grandad died, 2nd time I was made redundant and increase in work stress).
Management did offer a phased return to work. The first time they wanted him to do 2 days for a week, three days for a week and then back to normal. This was too quick for H and resulted in him going off again not long after. They didn't originally stick to the weekly meetings either. To be fair to them they were much better the second time round and did phase him back more slowly/stuck to meetings but he just ended up off due to things that happened after the second OH visit. A change in roles was mentioned but they only offered moving him to another branch, which arguably wouldn't have alleviated any of this. Part of the problem has been being customer facing. They do have a head office but no roles there that are his grade. They also offered him to chat when he needed and for him to call a confidential line if he needed. But he's no good at opening up and will stick his head in the sand or put on a face and pretend everything is ok. Sometimes you wouldn't know how much he struggles because he hides it so well...and falls apart later at home.
One of the factors that played in him being ill again was that he went for a promotion twice. The first time he acknowledges it wasn't a good interview and he didn't do well. That did get him down quite a bit. The second time he was tied with someone else, the interview could not have gone better. They gave it to the other person as they said she had had chance to practice some of the role in a branch that was far less busy. There isn't much chance for development where he is as it is so full on all the time. I think at the time of the second interview he may have already been off for maybe a week or two in the months before because he had started his downward spiral. This may have played a big factor in their decision but we will never really know.
I have tried to contact them before for him. I have called in twice and they have rung me once because they couldn't get in touch with H. On the occasions I have dropped off his sick notes I have been pulled into an office twice, where one of his managers wanted to know how he was doing etc etc. She asked questions about how he was at home and how he was with the DC. I must admit that I didn't really feel comfortable answering those type of questions but I did anyway because I didn't want to put H in a worse position by not talking to them. Since the last time they managed to get me in to an office I have literally run in and passed the notes over and got out again as quickly as possible so I don't have to chat to anyone. It's the probing questions that I'm uncomfortable with. I think I was asked once whether H wanted to go back. And I had to enthuse that he did etc etc. When really they should have been asking him that..though I get that they couldn't because he's so bloody damn hard to get hold of.
He has recently (Thursday just!) put in a claim for ESA, we are waiting on his work to send us the SSP1 form before we can send all the evidence off for that. We can't afford a solicitor unfortunately, but I will have a look though out insurance documents when I dig them out.
I think he does want to keep his job. Maybe not because he particularly likes it but because he doesn't think, due to his absences etc, he will be able to get anything else. He wants to be at work and providing for his family (his words). Once he is in work regularly he would apply for other jobs and move. There is no chance for progression for him now due to his illnesses/absences. He does get on with people at work but I think he feels embarrassed about his illness and thinks it shows him as weak. For this reason he is not likely to ask the people he gets on with whether they will come in with him.
The meeting is on Friday. He has to let them know tomorrow that he is attending etc. The letter came on Thursday but due to the postman not knocking it went to the sorting office so we only really got the letter yesterday. Can he ask for the meeting to be pushed back? I don't know whether he will be able to work himself up to this in time.
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