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To think this can't be allowed.

(97 Posts)
mrswhiskerson Tue 21-Jun-11 11:25:23

Dh has been on the sick for the past three days with a very bad stomach , his supervisor rang and left a voice message saying he did not beleive dh was Ill and implied dh is skiving until his holiday, he also threatens to ring hr and report dh for unauthorised absence and stop his pay for three weeks (sickness and holiday pay)

dh has a bad sickness record due to recurring depression and ongoing health problems but he has never skived for the sake of it . His employers know his health problems but onamy occasions have accused him of being a liar.
Am I right in thinking this is not allowed ?
The current situation is not helping his depression at all and I am really worried about him.

blackeyedsusan Tue 21-Jun-11 11:27:06

go and see gp. then he can prove it. not sure if it is allowed. tis not nice though when you are genuinely ill.

worraliberty Tue 21-Jun-11 11:27:10

Does he not have Dr's notes?

My DH's firm is very strict on this sort of thing because it costs them a fortune

GeekCool Tue 21-Jun-11 11:29:21

He doesn't require a doctors note for the less than a week's absence. This is harrassment, and not it's not allowed. When your DH returns to work, I would take his phone and play the message to HR whilst raising a grievance.

SenoritaViva Tue 21-Jun-11 11:30:35

Agree on the GP thing. Firm should have a sickness policy which he is entitled to have access to.

The boss should not be able to threaten, but the company can request 'return to work meetings', sick notes etc. The law is there to protect both the employee and employer (rightly so), so you DH may feel he has to jump through some hoops to prove things, he shouldn't feel guilty about this since his sickness is genuine and understand that it is there to protect both parties.

SenoritaViva Tue 21-Jun-11 11:32:51

GeekCool - he may be required a doctors note if he has a record of sickness absence.

OP I encourage you to read DH's company's policy rather than just take advice from here, you can also read

SenoritaViva Tue 21-Jun-11 11:35:16


mrswhiskerson Tue 21-Jun-11 11:54:53

He has sick notes for every absence but when he has been off he has been bombarded with texts asking when he is coming back.

Dh has a problem where he needs to use the loo a lot and has explained this to his managers on more than five occasions , they count the number of times he uses the loo and have on many occasions put a public call
out requesting him to come back onto the shop floor which is extremely embarrasing for him (he works for a large department store).

They have also questioned his religous beliefs many many times. Dh has been brought up roman catholic and brought up to believe you do not work on a Sunday and he also goes to church occasionally
. When he first started he explained he could not work on a Sunday due to this and he was told it was not a problem. Since then he has often been asked to work a Sunday
and has had his faith questioned when he has said no even to the point his manager has said he just likes to be off on a Sunday for his Sunday dinner.
Dh does have a strong religous faith but he does not talk about it much day to day .
This phonecall is the last straw and I really want to do something about it ,I'm so angry on his behalf I know a bad sickness record is not good but it is genuine and he works so hard often getting glowing feedback from
customers and collegues.

fourstickymitts Tue 21-Jun-11 11:55:01

You might be better to post this in the employment forum. His employers are allowed to challenge sickness absence. If he has a poor record (genuine or otherwise) time off right before a booked holiday would send up a warning flag.

How the supervisor has contacted him and why, are all about reasonableness and following company procedure. They aren't allowed to bully, but they are allowed to ask questions, expect compliance, to expect him to show his best efforts at trying to come into work.

If he is genuinely depilated by depression, he should be signed off for it and the company would need to handle the case differently due to the DDA.

If he's struggling, he needs to get back to the GP, but as horrid a situation as it is, he's employed by the company to carry out work, they are within the rights to get what they pay for but are not allowed to bully or victimise.

Hope things get better for you both.

fourstickymitts Tue 21-Jun-11 12:01:01

And that should have said "debilitated" blush

cookcleanerchaufferetc Tue 21-Jun-11 12:27:51

I agree that it is not acceptable for the boss to make those comments - can you record the message (was it voicemail?) onto your phone as evidence for HR etc?

However, it sounds like your dh has several issues at work. I do not understand how you can say that your dh has been bought up RC so refuses to work on Sundays, which is fine if there is a real strng religious belief, but your dh only goes to church rarely. Not exactly a strong belief. That woudl annoy me.

People, not just your dh, should not commit to a job if they are unable to fufil the duties. So department stores which are open on Sundays would clearly have been an issue from day one. Unless your dh built into his contract that he would not work Sunday's Easter etc, then dont complain now. There was a story about a muslim butcher or something who unsuccessfully sought compenstion as he didn't like the job .. an extreme but pathetic!

GwendolineMaryLacey Tue 21-Jun-11 12:31:00

I must admit I am confused by the church thing also. An integral part of Catholicism is attendance at mass so it's very odd to claim to have a strong faith to the point of refusing to work when you're failing to meet the most basic criteria of the religion in question.

That aside, he does sound like he is being bullied over his health issues.

Reality Tue 21-Jun-11 12:33:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pictish Tue 21-Jun-11 12:34:46

Hmmm....I'm going create a ruckus here, I know....BUT he sounds like a pain in the ass as an employee.

He refuses to work Sundays owing to his faith, but does not attend church? That's just a 'bend the rules to suit yourself' load of bollocks isn't it really?

waits to get toasted to a cinder

cookcleanerchaufferetc Tue 21-Jun-11 12:36:15

Have to say that Reality and Pictish have said what I was thinking!

fedupofnamechanging Tue 21-Jun-11 12:36:17

Wrt working Sundays, if your DH was upfront from the beginning that he was not prepared to work on this day, and the company hired him knowing that, then they have no right to expect him to do so now.

If I was your DH, I'd get a sick note to cover myself and I'd also make formal complaints about how this matter has been handled. However, form the employers pov, it must be irritating to have to pay someone who is constantly off sick. I know your DH cannot help being ill, but I am not without sympathy for the employer either - they just want someone to do the job.

fiorentina Tue 21-Jun-11 12:39:28

I have to agree with others here. He sounds like a total nightmare to manage. That isn't to say his illness isn't genuine, but perhaps he needs to take a more proactive role to managing this with his employers, or perhaps look for a position that is more suited to his beliefs and needs.

I fail to see why he can't work on a sunday if he isn't actually bothering to attend church and this added to constant absences doesn't make him seem a very willing employee, albeit his employers don't seem to be playing by the rules.

worraliberty Tue 21-Jun-11 12:40:30

So he's too religious to work on a Sunday, yet he only goes to church now and then?

My Dad is a staunch Catholic and always worked on Sundays to provide for us. The overtime pay was very welcome.

He worked with what was mainly (at the time) Irish Catholics and to my knowledge none of them ever turned a Sunday down for religious reasons...especially considering you can go to church on just about any day of the week.

grumpypants Tue 21-Jun-11 12:41:54

Another one married to an Irish Catholic - all of them in retail and (as far as I know) working Sundays. Maybe if he could reconcile that, more sympathy would be shown to the constant loo breaks and sickness?

CoffeeDodger Tue 21-Jun-11 12:45:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ginnybag Tue 21-Jun-11 13:02:22

They haven't the right to bully him, however it does sound like there is a 'history' here and it may bethatthe job and your DH are just not a good fit.

There are several issues here which, with my manager's hat on, I can see may be contributing:

1. Not working Sundays. The shop is open on Sundays, so there was always going to be a need for staff. Unfortunately, there is no right to time off because of Church statutes, so this was only ever going to be an informal agreement, which they can revoke whenever they feel like it, unless his days of work are specified in his terms and conditions of employment. I take it they aren't?

What's likely happened is that the person who interviewed and agreed 'no Sundays' is NOT the person writing the roster week in and week out, so that's why he keeps being asked. Especially since, at weekends, staffing is harder because colleagues will have childcare issues, which DO have to be considered under the law. I'm afraid 'I don't work Sundays 'cause I was raised not to' wouldn't be cuttng much ice with me, particularly since he isn't even asking for sundays off to go to church. It does look very weak.

Please bear in mind here that you don't know the religious status of his colleagues, or his manager - how do you know one of them isn't also Catholic? Or Muslim? Or Jewish? Or whatever - lots of faiths have holy days. Vary few places of work will consider them.

2. Toilet breaks. This is trickier - does you DH have a specified problem, or does he just 'need to go' lots? If it's the first, get it in writing from your GP and present it to work formally, with a covering letter. 'Explaining it' isn't the same as entering a medical condition onto an employee's record.

Consider here that this issue might be coming from co-workers, not management. Ten minutes toilet break every two hours in a (say) ten hour day is 50 mins (paid) break over and above what everyone else gets. If they're tannoying him to the shop floor then there's work to be done and he's been gone a while, so it might be that there have been complaints.

This is why your DH needs to get this on record as a genuine health issue, backed up. And then he needs to have a meeting whereby his working conditions are looked at to minimise the effect this is having on him and everyone else.

And, just by asking for the meeting, even if nothing comes from it, he's adding a heck of a lot of weight to his case should this situation really go south.

3. Sickness. If he has a poor sickness record, then, yes, further sickness will be challenged. Dr's note, every time, and get it submitted ASAP. They haven't the right to ring him and threaten, but they do have the right to REASONABLY ask: what's wrong? how long do you think you'll be off? have you got a sick note? etc etc., particularly if he's gone sick either just before or just after a holiday. Make sure your DH is following his company's sickness reporting procedure at all times, because if those questions have been asked, either now or in the past, and they haven't been answered, some companies do resort to 'we won't pay you unless you.... whatever' They shouldn't, but if the alternative is formal disciplinary action, they will.

Again, the best course of action here is to see a GP and get, in writing, a statement of you DH health position. Submit it, with a covering letter, and ask for a meeting to clear the air.

Be aware that 'being off sick' is not a get out of jail free card. Unfortunately, if your DH is or has taken excessive time off, even for legitimate sickness, then his employer can decide that he's frustrating his contract and start disciplinary proceedures to terminate.

In your shoes, I'd be advising him to speak to his Dr and then take the whole thing to HR. Explain his side, present the evidence of bullying and ask that it be sorted out formally once and for all. As I said above, by doing this, he looks professional and proactive and that's a very good thing for him to look in this situation.

If they refuse, or they have the meeting but nothing changes, then he would have a strong case for constructive dismissal, should things deteriorate further.

Hope all that helps.

supergreenuk Tue 21-Jun-11 13:18:03

I too would have no sympathy with the Sunday thing. You can't claim to have a strong faith and not go to church. Plenty of my friends who are Christians work on a sunday. Think of doctors, nurses, care workers. Do you think they can pull that card?

Genuine sickness is tough but each company has to have a policy which leads to being able to let the employee go as it costs. This does seem heavy handed though and I would question if they are following policy in this situation.

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Tue 21-Jun-11 13:25:20

Does your dh have a medically diagnosed chronic condition and has he provided medical evidence of his need to have more frequent loo breaks than his colleagues to his employers?

Has your dh's depression been clinically diagnosed? Is he taking anti-depressants or attending counselling and has he provided medical evidence of his condition to his employers?

Strict observance of the Sabbath is not a tenet of the Catholic faith and, from what you have said, it seems that your dh would be on shaky ground if he attempted to prove to an employment tribunal that his deep religious faith precluded him working on Sundays.

yummybutterbiscuit Tue 21-Jun-11 13:25:31

I also have no sympathy about the sunday thing. I am a practising catholic, go to church pretty much every sunday, but wouldnt turn down a sunday shift. church times in my area vary from 8am, to 11pm, so there is always a service somewhere I can attend, no matter what shift I'm doing.

the toilet thing we dont have enough info on. if its just he needs to go a lot then he's a skiver, but if its an actual diagnosed condition, then he needs to submit it to his file.

fedupofnamechanging Tue 21-Jun-11 13:29:10

I might be wrong, but I think an employer can't legally force you to work on a Sunday, unless you specifically accepted a job where you have to work, like emergency services.

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