My mum is being threatened with being medically retired when she only has 3mths to go. Advice please

(19 Posts)
MrsMorgan Sat 06-Feb-10 10:24:56

Will try and make this as brief as possible.

My mum, who is 59 works part time for the NHS. She has been in her current job for over 10 years and up until 2 years ago she had an excellant sickness record.

Two years ago she was signed off alltogther for a period of 4mths due to depression. This was caused by a number of things but was also work related stress.

She went back after the 4mths and all was ok, but my mum also suffers from IBS and over the course of the last two years she has had some time off due to this. She discovered that working an early shift made her ibs worse and so she now only does lates.

In addition to that she also now has a hip problem and is due to have treatment on that later this month.

Her work made her go and see their own doctor who was disgusted at their treatment of her and said they were wasting his time. He had to report wether in his opinion her problems would arise again, and as he said 'you are 59 fgs, of course they will'.

She has had to attend several meetings with the ward manager (who is part of the problem) and HR and in the last one last week they said that if she had more than one day off within now and when she retires then she could be taken before a panel and medically retired.

My mum was distraught at all of this and her gp who was also furious has now signed her off with work related stress for 28 days and hinted that he might do this until she retires. Her gp said that if she had been due to stay there for any longer that he would have advised her to take the matter further.

So, she has just rung me now to say she has had another letter from them today saying that she didn't stick to the things outlined in the last meeting and she has to go in and see them at 8am next wed.

I don't know what to advise her to do, although I have just got her the number for ACAS.
If they medically retire her before may, then she won't get any pay will she ? This is what she is most worried about as she is a single person and is only due for a state pension so has nothing to live off between now and may.

Oh, I missed out that the ward manager has already been had up on one count of bullying another member of staff.

RibenaBerry Sat 06-Feb-10 10:35:49

Well, I don't know much about medical retirement in the NHS. To force someone's dismissal/early retirement on medical grounds would normally require a pretty full medical report and, IME, it normally a consensual thing. I would have thought that a panel would not be keen to force a dismissal in this situation.

I would suggest that your mother (or you on her behalf) contact the manager and say that, as she is currently signed off, she is too ill to attend the meeting (assuming you believe this to be the case). I would then think about putting in a grievance so that it escalates above this manager.

What is the sick pay policy? Will you mum continue to be paid whilst she's signed off.

MrsMorgan Sat 06-Feb-10 10:46:43

She will be paid whilst off sick as far as I know.

She has just spoken to acas, who said that they suggest she goes back to her gp on Monday and he can say she is unfit to attend the meeting.

Oh they also said that they have to give you 6mths notie if they want to medically retire you. Does anyone know if this is right ? I had heard it was 1 month.

The last thing my mum wants to do is attend a meeting with the woman who is causing her all of this stress in the first place.

Also the meeting is for 8am, when they know her IBS is worse early in the morning, because thats why they changed her shifts to lates.

I'm NHS and we are being 'encouraged' to react more strongly to sickness absence and to proceed to dismiss people if there is no improvement in sickness levels. So I'm not surprised by what your mum has encountered tbh. Is she in a union?

i cant believe they would make her go in for a meeting when she is on sick leave with stress??

how are her occ health dept?

RibenaBerry Sat 06-Feb-10 10:53:50

ACAS are wrong re medical retirement. There are no set time limits especially for this scenario. However, effectively it's a dismissal, so they would have to give the notice period in her contract (or one week's notice per year of service if more).

MrsMorgan Sat 06-Feb-10 11:17:45

Thanks all, I have no knowledge of anything like this so I am struggling to help her.

As far as I know, she is not in a union. Wrt occ health I am not sure, will ask her.

I will also ask her what the notice period in her contract is.

She is really really good at her job, and like I said, up until the last two years she hardley ever had any time off sick. I cannot believe the way she is being treated.

She is not the only one though, there are at least 2 others who have/are been treated similarly.

Oh they also said she failed to follow procedure when ringing in sick (with the sick note), as she didn't tell (named person). What actually happened was that she rang in and that person wasn't available but the woman (in same office) said it was fine she'd pass it all on, which she obviously did because they know she is off sick.
This ward manager is just being a nit picking bully.

my opinion would be if she is off sick then she should not attend interview she can explain that she would not be insured to be on premises as attending would mean going against the advice of her gp

not trained in this i'm afraid but what i was advised by union rep previously when off sick from job which expected me to attend interview

RibenaBerry Sat 06-Feb-10 14:27:58

I don't think it's strictly an insurance issue, and I think your rep might have got it slightly muddled LesbianMummy1.

It is true that the employer might find that their employers liability cover doesn't cover them if someone comes to work when unfit, but I don't think that's a direct issue when someone is just coming in for a meeting, and it would be the employer's problem, not the employee's.

However, I thoroughly agree with the point about not attending against the advice of the doctor smile.

MrsMorgan Sat 06-Feb-10 14:50:48

Thanks all, my mum is coming round later so I show her the advice on here.

RibenaBerry Sat 06-Feb-10 15:01:28

Right OP, I've got a bit more time now to walk you through this.

There is no such thing as a forced medical retirement as such. If an employee is having what the employer considers 'too much' sickness absence, there are a couple of options open to him:

1. A dismissal on grounds of capability. This is essentially saying that the person hasn't done anything wrong, but that their health means that they are not capable of fulfiling the requirements of the job.

2. A dismissal under disciplinary rules. This is normally used if someone is not certifying absence properly, if lots of little absences for no good reason occur, etc.

The stuff about medical retirement doesn't make much sense if your mum hasn't got an NHS pension (why not, incidentally, if she's worked there 10 years?). A medical retirement is really just a capability dismissal under heading 1, but with the additional factor that the pension scheme starts paying out early as ill health early retirement. (Incidentally, if you mum doesn't have a pension and wants to keep working, she knows that you can't be forced to retire until 65 now doesn't she?). They are either dressing it up in complicated language or (understandably if she is stressed) your mum has got a bit muddled.

Dismissing someone under either of the headings above is a complicated business. This is especially the case if it isn't a disciplinary offence. Dismissing someone for capability normally involves detailed medical reports and review of alternative, less drastic steps before hand. Even for a disciplinary, there would be a process of formal warnings before you got anywhere near a dismissal. I think, therefore, that if this got as far as the panel, it is highly unlikely that your mum would be dismissed at this stage (based on what you have told us). If someone is dismissed without proper processes, they can claim compensation for unfair dismissal. It would seem odd for the trust to put themselves through all of this if she's retiring in 3 months anyway. Sounds like a manager who either doesn't like her or is a bit over enthusiastic.

It would also be worth having a read up about disability discrimination on the directgov website here. If the IBS is a long term chronic condition, it may well be a disability. This could be true of the hip too, depending on the nature of what's wrong. Have a read. Although the stress may not be a disability itself, if it's related to the way she is being treated over her disability, it could be caught too (Depression can be a disability in its own right).

lal123 Sat 06-Feb-10 15:43:40

to add to the confusion - its no longer employers decision whether to "medically retire" someone - its up to the pensions agency to decide whether to start paying a pension early - and they'll only do this is the person can't do ANY job.

Even if she's not in a union she may find that her local rep might be willing to give some advice informally.

pinksancerre Sat 06-Feb-10 16:06:57

NHS management of sickness is very similar across the board. As someone has already said managers are encouraged to actively manage sickness. When I was a ward manager it was very difficult and the person who has been poorly feels they are being accused of making up their sickness. I used to hate it as a manager but I also used to have staff with terrible sickness records and the policies stop those people who are trying it on. Unfortunately it sounds like your mum who has is genuinely sick has been a victim of this crackdown. Try this www.london.nhs.uk/webfiles/Corporate/Jan%202009%20publication%20scheme%20upload/Management%20of%20Si ckness%20Absence%20Policy.pdf as an example of nhs sick policy

MrsMorgan Sat 06-Feb-10 16:09:59

Thanks

Wrt her not having an nhs pension. All I know is that she did pay into one for a bit and then opted out, I don't know why.

Her gp has already said that if it went to a panel she would have his full suport as he feels that they are acting unfairly.

I did say to her today that maybe if it came to it she could leave and claim some sort of disabilty or incapacity benefit until her pension starts but I think she is too upset to think straight today.

The GP support won't make any difference because the NHS policy is not actually about challenging the truthfulness of people's sickness absence. It's just mostly about keeping people at work. Your mum's manager wants rid of her not because she thinks she's lying - but because she thinks she's a deadweight. That sounds brutal - and it is.

Froma a manager's perspective - your mum has had previous long term sick. She is now restricted to which shifts she can work because of her health and is planning more long term sick - even before being signed off with stress. As a compassionate human being I entirely support your mum and agree this is a crap way to be treated but as a representative of one of the largest employers in Europe, operating within a shrinking budget and with a headcount below what is needed - I can see why medical retirement is their preferred option.

What to do - it doesn't sound like her job (and her line manager) are the best things for now. Has she explored redeployment? It may be possible to negotiate a return to work in a different role. It may not be one she likes very much but it could enable her to finish her career properly?

Wizpunzel Sat 06-Feb-10 18:17:48

Forgive me if I missed it somewhere in this thread but you don't say what job it is your Mum does? If she's a nurse, presumably she belongs to the RCN who would offer support and advice.

If she's no longer in the pension scheme then strictly speaking she can't be medically 'retired', and her employer is approaching this as a dismissal on grounds of capability. Without repeating what Ribena has said already, dismissing on these grounds requires full medical reports etc and is quite time-consuming and should be done with the full understanding and co-operation of the employee. It is likely that your Mum will have passed 60 by the time this process will have been completed.

I assume she is directly employed by an NHS Trust? If so, her sick pay will be based on Agenda for Change terms and conditions, i.e. 6 mths full pay, 6 months half pay then SSP only.

If the employer is not considering going down the dismissal route, and there is a mutual agreement to return to work following sick leave, then your Mum should inform them when she intends coming back and discussing with her employer what reasonable adjustments need to be made to allow her to perform her job, especially if her condition is considered to be a disability.

MrsMorgan Sun 07-Feb-10 10:09:29

She works as a maternity care assistant.

The job is very different now to when she started, which I suppose has added to the stress of the situation.

She is going to try and see her gp again tomorrow so that she doesn't have to attend the meeting on Wednesday, and I have told her to go above the ward managers head, as it is just not possible for her to deal with this woman anymore.

I feel that they really need to look into how this woman is doing her job. Staff are leaving at an alarming rate and the ones that aren't she is trying to bully out.

My mum is just sick of the whole thing now.

Wrt redeployment, my mum isn't trained to do anything else so I don't think that would be an option.

mimicatz Sun 09-Jan-11 12:20:27

What happened to this woman?

Lougle Sun 09-Jan-11 12:41:29

WRT to training, don't let that put you off smile If your mum is a MCA, then she has LOTS of transferable skills. She could work as a nursing CA, or a phlebotomist with a bit of training, etc.

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