I'm going to lose my job and I'm

(64 Posts)

Petrified

Over the last 12 months I've had recurring tonsillitis.

The company I work for use the Bradford factor, I've had 5 instances of 1/2 days do I'm
Over the 100 mark.

I am now on my final warning. Any more time off and I will be dismissed.

I appealed last time as it's the same illness, I'd asked to still come to work but do different work (I work in a call centre) but the appeal was rejected.

Low and behold I have tonsillitis again. Normally after two days of anti biotics I'm starting to pick up but I'm not and I'm due back in work tomorrow.

I can't sleep worrying. There really isn't a way round it is there? I honestly think that I'm struggling to get better as I'm in such a state worrying!

Does anyone have any advice?

Longdistance Thu 29-Aug-13 07:45:00

Will they not remove your tonsils as its affecting your job?

I'm not sure what they do in the Uk tonsil wise, but they have them taken out here in Oz.

I thought, that if its affecting your work, then the docs would have to do something, other than dose you up on antibiotics.

working9while5 Thu 29-Aug-13 07:50:20

What? You have medical certification right? They can't actually get rid of you for missing because of genuine illness. The Bradford Index is supposed to root out patternable illness. Have all of your absences been around the weekend? Do they want to get rid of you for other reasons?

Yes I'm booked in for a tonsillectomy I've just been referred after months of begging.

I work 4 days a week three of them being Monday Friday and Saturday then one changeable day.

They know its genuine as on two of the occasions they have had to tell me to leave as I couldn't talk to anyone properly

I do have other skills they could use but they don't and gave excuses to why this wasn't possible.

Bear in mind it took 16 weeks to respond to my appeal I'm not sure they actually know what they are doing.

The union have accompanied me but it hasn't helped.

It's been over six months since I've last had time off with it I've been lucky in the sense that its started on my day off or when I've had pre booked leave. This time I just can't shift it!

Oh and this isn't a small company it's one of the biggies

glorious Thu 29-Aug-13 08:17:15

I'm not a professional but I do know that you can be dismissed for sickness even if it's genuine.

I suggest you go into work and insist on alternative duties. This should be something they offer where possible to avoid people needing to be off sick. If they refuse I would put the request in writing and ask for a written explanation of why alternative duties aren't available. This may either make them see sense of may help your case if you are dismissed.

But as I say I'm no expert. I'd get some proper advice, perhaps from higher up in your union? Or ACAS?

Glorious you are absolutely right. Admittedly I've never known anyone dismissed for this reason at my company. I'm wondering if I'm being made an example of. It's discretionary, there are people with much worse records.

I'm going to call today I think and ask if they are willing to accommodate that for a few days. You can tell By my voice that im in No position to speak on the phone for 7 hours. I'm going to drop an email to the union too.

working9while5 Thu 29-Aug-13 09:00:40

Yes glorious but I thought that was for ongoing illness with long absences not ten days over a year! It especially doesn't make sense in a case where the illness is self-limiting and a tonsillectomy is booked.

They were originally refusing to accept there was an underlying issue. However that may change now I have an op booked.

I'm going to call in shortly to give them time to put something in place.

adagio Thu 29-Aug-13 09:12:16

I would turn up and ask - then if they send you home/refuse alternate duties back up in writing and cc the union and HR - might put the wind up them a bit more. Are HR onsite or remote? Perhaps popping to see them on the way out (assuming alternate duties is refused) might also be worth it.

It is completely true that you can be dismissed from a capability perspective but if you have the tonsillectomy booked I think you have reasonable grounds to argue this won't happen longer term. I am assuming the rest of your performance is great.

Get well soon flowers

Yes absolutely no issues with my performance or behaviours.

I won't be able to see hr as they are based elsewhere. I don't want to give too much away but with issues like this they basically offer advice but it's lifted straight from the rule book, there is no advice for leniency or using discretion. The company is huge, managers who actually understand the process will follow the guidance but also realise that they don't have to follow it to the letter. Others will just take what is said as gospel and parrot it back. I've been in the unfortunate position of spending time as a manager so understand all this stuff so do find it frustrating. All the decisions are basically made by the second line manager, but I have reason to believe that she isn't the one to compile evidence and stuff and that its delegated. Hence the parroting.
That make sense?

flowery Thu 29-Aug-13 10:15:47

Just because you are on a final warning doesn't mean it will be automatically fair to dismiss you next time you are off sick, and in circumstances where medical steps are being taken to address the problem.

Have they taken medical advice (either by writing to your own doctor or from occupational health or another doctor) about your condition and its long term impact on your work/whether there are any adjustments they could make? They should do that before dismissing you definitely.

No flowery they haven't that's an interesting point.

noobieteacher Thu 29-Aug-13 10:50:44

It sounds to me as though they are trying to keep the upper hand. Try not to worry as this will be making you worse. Tonsillitis in a call centre is probably an occupational hazard - you are talking all day and your throat is more vulnerable as a result. It's a bit like someone working as a labour and back problems. They will be fearful that you might sue them if the work they give you makes you more ill.

I'm not an expert but you must have rights as others have suggested. I think when you have a good understanding of your rights you will feel more confident to get the support you deserve from the company that employs you.

TSSDNCOP Thu 29-Aug-13 10:56:21

I think you need to call HR and if necessary someone will need to come to you. This sounds like a classic case of management discretion being required to humanise a tick list system.

Given your clean record, positive attitude in wanting to accept alternative duties and seeking imminent medical intervention to avoid future illness would surely stand up well in any tribunal you would bring due to unfair dismissal.

TSSDNCOP Thu 29-Aug-13 10:57:34

And start keeping dated written records of conversations you have with managers.

mignonette Thu 29-Aug-13 11:00:39

I would turn up to be honest because at least then they can see that you are sick. That will also strengthen your case in any disciplinary actions that may arise in the near future. If you cannot do the job properly when you turn up sick then let it be their problem.

I hope you are keeping very detailed notes and I'd advise you to record all calls w/ them, telling them you are doing so.

I'm feeling much calmer now.

You are both right of course. The whole process is a minefield mainly because of the number of people actually involved.

I've called now and asked for them to look into giving me a temp role. The thing is they have other people away from their own roles on the phones with less experience than me. So officially there is the scope there for me to do it, it makes business sense.

noobieteacher Thu 29-Aug-13 11:05:00

Did you ask for a temp job to replace your current contract or something to do while you are ill but without affecting your contract? If it's the latter, are they clear about that?

Noobie, made it clear just some cover or something until my voice is back. I have to call back in an hour

blondieminx Thu 29-Aug-13 11:24:19

I think you need to be ensuring you put everything in writing.

I would also ask for a GP letter explaining that due to severe and recurring tonsillitis you have the op booked, and take a copy before asking HR to place it on your file with a cc to the manager involved.

It would also be worth letting it be known that you are taking professional advice about the situation.

Good luck.

Thank you blondie

I'm wishing I'd have emailed my question now though. hmm

SageMist Thu 29-Aug-13 13:00:50

Email it now, say its a record of the phone conversation that you had.

TSSDNCOP Thu 29-Aug-13 13:08:18

Sage is right. It's perfectly ok to follow up a verbal conversation with an e mail confirmation.

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Thu 29-Aug-13 13:16:10

Yes, definitely send an email 'outlining' your conversation.

It is a disgraceful way they are behaving sad

The problem is the person I phone in to is different to the decision maker so he was going to talk to her and come to an agreement, so emailing won't do much good, mainly as I don't want to rub anyone up the wrong way! (I know I know)

I'm thinking wait for a reply if the reply is come in and do your normal job or don't bother I will email then to detail the whole convo.

The thing is if I wasn't so honest I'd call in with childcare issues and be done with it!

noobieteacher Thu 29-Aug-13 13:36:01

Try to stand your ground. A friend of mine recently took a very lowly job in a massive company which hires lots of low paid foreign workers. She was getting messed around by her over-zealous line manager and stood up to them, she has now been made a permanent member of staff in a different department with a better salary.

There is hope but you need to trust your gut instinct about what is right and be strong and firm.

angelos02 Thu 29-Aug-13 14:04:12

Could you offer to take the time off as holiday rather than sickness? I have done this.

glorious Thu 29-Aug-13 15:34:58

storm I agree with the others about putting things in writing. Perhaps a good way to do this would be if they refuse you alternative duties on the phone you write an email summarising what you asked for and what they said and ask for confirmation.

Good advice too on emphasising it's temporary as that may be a case for discretion in the 'rule book'.

Sorry you are going through this and good luck thanks

I've had a call and they have consulted with HR and come to an agreement that means I can take more breaks get drinks etc. so will have to see. They did say that another absence would trigger disciplinary but also that it wouldn't go to that stage before my op. (then kind of backtracked-dont think they want that to be knowledge but i kind of knew that anyway)

I'm glad they've come up with a solution. Not sure how well it will work in practice but I will show willing! I'm happy to give anything a try smile

glorious Thu 29-Aug-13 16:57:09

That's progress at least. I hope it goes well smile

noobieteacher Thu 29-Aug-13 18:05:48

I would send an email saying something like
"thank you for our conversation etc and offering me the opportunity to take more breaks... pad it out... . I would like you to consider perhaps if you have any alternative duties that would meet my health needs better, where I would not have to spend so much time on the telephone, I could be more productive for the company... pad it out... I would like you to consider this if things don't work out with taking more drinks breaks.

But aside from this, do they ever give you voice training? If you are using the phone all day you could probably benefit from learning to use your voice effectively, you could prevent a lot of strain.

I'm going to be honest the way I feel today I can't see it working, not only am I still in pain but I've got the temperature, shakiness, earache. I normally heal much quicker once the antib's set it, im possibly becoming immune!

To be honest i want to phone and say I can't come in but feel after asking for the alterations it won't go down well so I'm going to see how I go on.

We don't get any voice training, I don't think it's common practice in call centres to be honest.

glorious Fri 30-Aug-13 12:04:44

How's it going storm ?

kickassangel Fri 30-Aug-13 12:36:52

I know nothing about employment law or medical stuff, but I am wondering, could it be your work partly causing this problem? How good are they at cleaning equipment? You maybe prone to infection, but it is coming from somewhere, and could it be the phone?

I'm not suggesting that you're antagonistic, but think about it. Do you get ill when on holiday, away from work? Also, do they clean things after you've used them so that it isn't spreading to other people?

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Fri 30-Aug-13 12:47:19

You are too ill to go into work, this is absolutely ridiculous!!

When are you due to have them taken out?

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Fri 30-Aug-13 12:48:35

I also agree with Kick - it's probably the call centre environment causing the problem.

It's hard work, I'm in Lots of pain. I've taken a few minutes here and there to get drinks and luckily it's a reasonably slow day.

We each have our own headsets and to be honest the place is kept clean however if we are all dragging ourselves in when I'll there's no wonder.

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Fri 30-Aug-13 16:09:37

Honest to god, it sounds like a bloody awful place to work sad

There must be a nicer place to work than this, they always seem to be advertising for call centre staff?!

I just really feel for you, you should be at home - not suffering like this just to keep your job, it's fucking 2013.

It is ridiculous sad and it's making me quite angry that you have to put yourself through this to keep your job. It's not right.

BrownSauceSandwich Fri 30-Aug-13 19:29:25

Oh kickassangel, you are soooo right. I am a union h&s rep, and if the op was one of my members, we would be filling in incident reports every time she got symptoms after doing her job.

Seriously OP, recurring tonsillitis is not so common, and the fact that you are doing a job which probably overtaxes your throat is pretty suspect. And they're not making reasonable adjustments to enable you to come back to work? Doesn't sound like they are meeting their responsibilities for their employees H&s at all! If you don't have a dedicated h&s union rep in your workplace, get in touch with the union's head office, and ask for advice from one of their experts. In the meantime, you must fill in an accident report every time your symptoms are aggravated by your work practice. Every time.

Your union health and safety officers will be able to talk to you about claiming for workplace injury. And if you can show that's what this is, your employer will probably have a completely different system for it than their usual sickness policy. And longer term, they should be making it possible for you to carry on working by organising voice coaching to help you be able to speak without straining your voice.

noobieteacher Sat 31-Aug-13 02:34:03

Excellent post from Brownsauce.

Chipping, sometimes it's brilliant, the company is good in essence it's specific areas where lower management dont have a clue. I've given 10 years to this company confused

Brownsauce, I wish you were my union rep! I'm logging everything, the excuse they are giving is my role is an online agent, therefore if I can't do that then I phone in sick and face the consequences, however at any given time there will be around 6 online agents assigned to different roles, all ones i am perfectly qualified and experienced to do. My choice was to step into an agent role after being seconded into other roles for so long with no sign of them being made permanent. Why they can't have me doing one of these roles for a few weeks while I recover is beyond me.

It was commented yesterday that the number of extra breaks I had taken was 'a worry' despite this being agreed from HR. (I took 30 min over the shift) so came home feeling awful. I'm due in in an hour, really not looking forward to it as my throat feels worse.

Ah well sunday will be my day of rest.

I appreciate all the support I'm getting here. It's nice to see I'm not alone in thinking this is a bit off

brewTo you all

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Sat 31-Aug-13 16:22:28

10 years and they are still prepared to treat you like this, it's disgusting. If lower management are the problem, then upper management needs to be made aware of it.

It was commented yesterday that the number of extra breaks I had taken was 'a worry'

By whom?

I am actually livid on your behalf and I cannot convey how disgusting & disgraceful that I think they are.

BrownSauceSandwich Sun 01-Sep-13 09:20:38

I wish I was your H&S rep too... Sounds like your employer deserves a good kick in the pants.

By all means keep your own record, but these must go, every time... Every day if necessary, in the accident book. That's a legal document, and if your employer fails to respond, review their risk assessments and risk management strategies, they are in clear breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act. And if the same accident recurs, they HAVE NOT reviewed their risk management appropriately.

From what you've said, they could pretty easily put you onto working on something else for a white until you've fully recovered from your op. are that, they should probably consider rotating you (and other at-risk employees) between speaking jobs and other tasks. I already mentioned voice coaching (my mum saw a speech therapist after recurrent laryngitis during the course of her work... it worked a treat). Those would be the kinds of "reasonable adjustments" your employer has a legal obligation to make.

Once again, please, if your union rep isn't trained as a H&S rep (not all are), get in touch with head office, who will have H&S officers who can advise you.

BrownSauceSandwich Sun 01-Sep-13 09:22:00

After that... Not "are that".

LovesBeingOnHoliday Sun 01-Sep-13 10:43:43

Op I really feel for you. I have experience in an aging sickness in a call centre environment so may be able to shed some light for you. (there's are not my views but are tge 'rules' of my previous employer)

At tge stage you are with disp cannot be seen to be 'hiding' your absence by giving different duties. If however you know others are being given those duties for this reason you must raise this.

Have tgey suggested occ health? We would not dismiss for absence in this sort of situation without them. That means you would speak to them, can say to them alt duties until your op would help and would be a reasonable adjustment (ESP as you have a date coming for your op)

A disp meeting does not mean you will be dismissed. If they said last time that further absence may lead etc etc then Tgey have to follow that tgrough. But IMO Tgey should be stating you've had a significant improvement and with your op you should then have tge issue resolved.

It is very likely that you are on a report somewhere due to you absence, we had a monthly meeting where we had to report on cases such as yours (as you've covered as a manager you may be aware), as you also know call centers are managed very tightly and absence is no different.

If I were conducting your disp meeting I would not dismiss; you have made improvements and are doing everything reasonable to work and get fit for work and you have an op sorted.

orangeandemons Sun 01-Sep-13 11:56:50

I thought they had to offer you alternative employment before dismissal. Also if you have had this thing for 12 months or so, doesn't that count as a disability? Which means y,up are protected further I think

Chipping, there are other ways I've been messed about its not the company as such, it's the lower management having very little understanding of actual process

Brown, I'm noting down everything, I'm not even sure there is an 'accident book' keeping things for my notes at the min. To be honest my direct manager has been superb and I did very little talking yesterday as he found things for me to do.

Loves, sounds like the process is exactly the same as your prev employer. (Wonder if its the same one) But those processes aren't set in stone. I've not had ohs involvement. Mighnt mention it.

Oranges, it's not quite been 12 months but I don't think they count it as disability, I know a colleague suffers from ibs and they don't count that. hmm

I've been able to rest my voice a bit today which has helped but as its healing I'm doing loads of coughing and that makes it difficult as I keep starting to tell DP something and then having a mini coughing fit! Tomorrow at work should be interesting confused

ubik Sun 01-Sep-13 16:53:59

Op I feel your pain. As a call centre worker I have developed asthma. I suspect sitting in an airless overheated environment, talking for hours on end, even through the night (am in nights at the mo) has triggered it.

I too went through a sickness absence process after getting whooping cough last summer. I had to have a clear sickness record for 12 months afterward it otherwise I would be progressed to the next disciplinary level. Fortunately I have managed it by going to work unwell. I have a dreadful cold at the moment but am getting through nightshifts.

I don't have any advice -just empathy. Sometimes all you want is to have a rational conversation with a manager and work something out while you are unwell. You are just a number, a bum on a seat and there are plenty of others queuing up fir your job if you don't like it - this is HR's attitude.

noobieteacher Mon 02-Sep-13 00:05:20

Asthma and whooping cough! Not allowed to be ill for 12 months or you get a disciplinary? This is like something from the dark ages.

I hope you both find some support to get the justice you deserve. A word with some newspapers might help - this issue needs a media campaign.

orangeandemons Mon 02-Sep-13 07:18:28

I don't think it makes any difference whether they allow it to be a disability or not.its the law which states it.

orangeandemons Mon 02-Sep-13 07:23:43

That's a nice dress orange grin

Ubik. I didn't realise this was so wide spread. hmm

Gracie990 Mon 02-Sep-13 07:40:01

My experience of being pushed about by a big company is get clued up and fight back.

If they see you standing up to them and knowing your rights they will sort themselves out. leave you alone

Follow brown's advice. Go in work then ask for the accident book. Do it everyday. Say you have been instructed to do this by your union.

Ring the union and insist you get better help, do not forget you pay the union for help, have you legal advice with it?

Get everything written down, log all conversations, ask for a whitness. Everything need an email follow up. ( just to follow up on our meeting today...)
Have you seen occupational health? ( they will help)

You can ask to see all of your personal files if they sack you. Under data protection and freedom of information act you can insist on seeing everything written about you. ( all of the emails, notes, the whole lot) that will show them you are serious.

BrownSauceSandwich Mon 02-Sep-13 08:12:44

There MUST be an accident book. They're totally breaking the law if there isn't.

bluecheque4595 Mon 02-Sep-13 08:24:10

When I had an office job and couldn't be off ill with a cold I discovered "Contac". Amazing medicine which takes away the pain and symptoms of a cold and allows you to function at work as normal as long as you keep taking the pills.

HappyAsASandboy Mon 02-Sep-13 08:28:27

Storm, I know you haven't given much detail about where you work, but I think it might be the same place as me. If so, would it help to talk through the extensive policy and procedure guidance? I am a manager and unfortunately know my way around that devotion I the intranet far too well sad

I am not in the call centre part if the organisation, but it might help to have someone else to run through the documents with?

If you think I might be able to help, PM me with where you work? I might be wrong, but I think it's the same organisation.

noobieteacher Mon 02-Sep-13 09:49:40

Out of interest brownsauce, what kind of things do you put in the accident book - can you put illness in or do you have to show that the illness is caused by working there?

glorious Tue 03-Sep-13 12:02:35

brownsauce knows far more than me but my understanding is that it's for work related things though I don't think there's any requirement to prove that to put it in the book.

How are you OP?

LovesBeingOnHoliday Tue 03-Sep-13 13:41:35

'the accident book' is unlikely to be an actual book; much more likely to be on the intranet.

Is there a senior manager you could speak to rather than your manager, might be more informative?

Hi All

Not great had to take a few days off, think talking has aggravated it.

I guess I'll know wether it will be taken further when I return confused

glorious Tue 03-Sep-13 15:10:06

Oh storm sad

noobieteacher Tue 03-Sep-13 17:48:47

If talking has aggravated it it's definitely work related and worthy of the accident book.

BrownSauceSandwich Wed 04-Sep-13 07:22:37

Accident "book" (yep, it may well be intranet or e,ailing forms to someone) is to record any workplace accident (ie: injury or illness caused by something in the workplace), or incident (aka. Near miss... Ie: something that might have caused an injury or illness). It's broader than many people realise... If you get tingling in your fingers while typing at work, that's an injury. You get attacked by a patient, that's an accident. You get a sore neck at a computer workstation... Accident. Light fitting drops on floor beside you, no one hurt... Incident. Fumes from floor being fitted in another office accumulate in your workspace... Incident. Or if somebody suffers ill effects, definitely accident.

Note that not everything in the accident book needs to be reported to the H&S exec... They're only insist on hearing about things that lead to several consecutive days off sick. However, it's not always possible to tell what will lead to that... Eg: a sore neck from bad workstation may be fine again next morning, or you could be unable to work for a month... If the latter, it should be reported to H&S executive. As long as you've put down the details in the accident book, you've covered your end of the bargain, and made it possible for your employer to cover theirs.

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