munschausens by proxy??

(31 Posts)
thatsthewayitgoes Thu 19-May-16 14:24:23

After some HR advice. We run a small business. A member of staff has always had "dramas" but recently her mum developed a terminal illness and has been unconscious for the last couple of weeks. It transpires today that this is not actually the case. She is in fact alive and well. Employee didn't come in today (and didn't call) hence I started to contact her emergency contacts. How do I deal with this? Thanks.

lougle Thu 19-May-16 17:08:23

What makes you think it's MBP (the modern term is 'fabricated/induced illness', btw), rather than old fashioned lying to get out of work?

Tiggeryoubastard Thu 19-May-16 17:17:04

hmm munschausens? And you came to that assumption how?

Fourormore Thu 19-May-16 17:17:58

That's just plain old lying, not MBP/FII.

DoreenLethal Thu 19-May-16 17:20:39

How do I deal with this?

You follow your discipline policy following no show at work and the resulting information that you have received.

DrE678 Thu 19-May-16 17:30:41

It's not MBP unless you believe she is making her mother ill. It sounds like work avoidance to me, just plain old garden variety.

Could be MBP of course if she's been bigging it up endlessly. But old fashioned skiving is probably the safer way to bet.

AgeOfEarthquakes Thu 19-May-16 17:35:59

Eh? She's skiving.

As to what you do, you follow your procedures for non attendance at work.

AnchorDownDeepBreath Thu 19-May-16 17:41:29

MSBP is usually against a child, not a patent. Infact this doesn't seem to fit at all - I can understand wanting to believe she wasn't just lying to you all, but the most obvious explanation is the most likely. As the saying goes, when you hear hooves, don't look for zebras.

You handle it by following your normal protocol for not attending work. The lying would probably be gross misconduct too.

Unless she's told you it's MSBP?

thatsthewayitgoes Thu 19-May-16 17:53:42

Maybe it's not. I'm no doctor. But this has been going on for months and months. We've had daily updates on her mums progress. She's been rushing to her death bed most of this week. What really grates is the fact that her colleagues have been bending over backwards looking after her, cooking for her, giving her lifts, money. Feel sick to my stomach.

AnchorDownDeepBreath Thu 19-May-16 18:12:08

That doesn't make it MSBP. I'm not saying that as a criticism, just that it's a largely misunderstood condition!

99.7% of recorded MSBP diagnoses are parents about their children. 85% are mothers. They constantly report fake illnesses to medical professionals. They sometimes poison or harm their children to make real symptoms that then support their theories about illness.

This lady could be a compulsive liar, she could have some kind of condition; but it's far more likely that she saw some lovely people and took advantage, never thinking you'd find out. It going on for days and days and the constant updates makes it more likely that it was a lie. Maybe it was a lie that spiralled and she didn't know how to stop, but then she probably would have stopped accepting so much support.

I'm not surprised that you feel sick but you need to be objective. She needs to be disciplined according to your company policies and your other staff might need support to get over feeling how you do - that horrid feeling of being decieved, taken advantage of. It's wounding.

DoreenLethal Thu 19-May-16 18:17:09

But this has been going on for months and months

So tomorrow, instigate the disciplinary policy. Which means inviting her for a meeting, at which you tell her the issue and suspend her whilst you inviestigate and inform her that if she is found to have committed gross misconduct then it may result in dismissal. Then do a proper investigation and follow it through. You cannot say too much at this stage, nor can you tell everyone or she would have a case to say you have prejudiced the process.

thatsthewayitgoes Thu 19-May-16 18:30:55

Thanks everyone. She clearly has MH problems - my concern is what else has she lied about and the effect this will have on her colleagues. Thanks again.

lougle Thu 19-May-16 18:37:01

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave. When first we practise to deceive!"

The whole point about FII (formerly MHBP) is that the motivation behind the behaviour is to seek attention. Mothers (and it is usually mothers) gain from the attention they get when their child is taken ill. Sometimes it can follow a period of very genuine illness that sparks a crisis, then the mother feels unable to cope without the support system she built. That can lead to poisoning (often with natural substances such as salt), interfering with specimens (such as pricking their finger to introduce blood to a perfectly clear urine sample), fiddling with hospital equipment when nurses leave the bedside, etc.

You're describing a situation where the only benefit to the employee is that she gets to leave work and you pick up her slack....that's not the pattern of FII.

You many find that when you investigate there is another legitimate reason for her behaviour, but you'll only find that out when you properly investigate. You need to follow your disciplinary procedures.

lougle Thu 19-May-16 18:38:11

"She clearly has MH problems"

So many assumptions!! Perhaps she was just willing to say anything to avoid having to be in work?

DoreenLethal Thu 19-May-16 18:40:55

She clearly has MH problems - my concern is what else has she lied about and the effect this will have on her colleagues.

No not clearly! You are not a doctor and cannot diagnose.

Just follow your disciplinary process.

Jimjamjoos Thu 19-May-16 18:55:31

Could there be someone else she sees as mum?

AgeOfEarthquakes Thu 19-May-16 18:56:44

You are her employer. It is not your job to diagnose her or assume anything about her mental health. Just deal with the issue by following your disciplinary procedures in as a dispassionate manner ask you can manage.

lougle Thu 19-May-16 19:03:11

Besides, surely she now knows that you know she doesn't have a sick mother, because the first thing her alive and kicking mother would have done after putting the phone down to you is phone her?

MissElizaBennettsBookmark Thu 19-May-16 19:08:39

My SIL pulled a stunt like that.

Told all her colleagues she had cancer and had loads of time off to 'attend' medical appointments. She didn't

Said she had breast cancer. She didn't

Said she had to rush to hospital bedside of her father following his heart attack. He was alive and well and shopping for gin at the time.

Her company eventually twigged and sacked her for gross misconduct.

You need to use your own HR procedure for absence without notification.

HermioneWeasley Thu 19-May-16 19:10:12

How long has she been employed by you?

insancerre Thu 19-May-16 19:21:18

Sack her
Is it not gross misconduct not to turn up for work and not to phone in?

Nyama Thu 19-May-16 19:25:42

That sounds awful. I you must call her in and say she is suspended until you investigate. But you can only do this if she's been abusing her position at work, ie not coming in. Just lying about everything isn't in itself a sack able offence.

yorkshapudding Thu 19-May-16 21:00:34

"She clearly has MH problems"

FFS. Sometimes people lie. Sometimes people are selfish and take advantage of others for their own personal gain. It does not necessarily mean they have mental health problems. Just follow your organisation's policy on unauthorised absence. Being this woman's employer does not give you any right to speculate about her mental health when you (clearly, judging by your lack of understanding of Fabricated or Induced Illness) are not qualified to do so.

Also how do you know with absolute certainty that her Mother is "alive and well"? Has she admitted it? If not then, unless you have spoken to the mother yourself then you are relying on second hand information. She may have a biological Mother and an adoptive Mother and simply not wish to discuss this with work colleagues.

Either way, you need to knock the armchair psychiatry on the head and address this as you would any other absence related disciplinary issue.

MummyBex1985 Fri 20-May-16 11:08:17

It's gross misconduct.

She lied about being unable to attend work and then went AWOL.

Have a look at the ACAS Code of Practice and follow it. If you want to dismiss then get some legal advice to make sure you follow the correct procedure.

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