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To make this offer or suggestions

(57 Posts)
TheInnerSea Fri 25-Jan-13 16:37:28

I am line manager to a woman with a broken ankle. There have been some complication and she's now been in plaster for ten Weeks and signed off work. We're in regular contact and she says she wants to be back at work and the only reason she isn't is that she can't drive. Her absence is causing

dissatisfaction among her work mates as they feel she's skiving and they're having to cover for her.

WIBU to offer to pay half of her taxi fayre so she can come to work? (approx 15 each way)

Also does anyone know the legal position?

DontEvenThinkAboutIt Thu 31-Jan-13 09:48:22

Glad it worked out ok.

TheInnerSea Thu 31-Jan-13 08:30:51

Thanks for all your input. A quick update-after further discussion with HR and my line manager, she was adv she will go on SSP WEF 1Feb. We have since had a letter from her GP confirming she is fit for all her normal duties,but unable to drive.

She will be back to work tomorrow and paying her own fares on the few days her DP can't drive her.

Molehillmountain Sat 26-Jan-13 14:46:04

I don't know what you should do tbh, but bear in mind that whilst the jokes on Facebook are ill advised she may be covering up how she actually feels about the situation with a bit of gallows humour. I didn't do it on Facebook, but when I had a serious illness and effectively got signed off for the duration of my third pregnancy, I used to joke about how much help I was getting and I'd recommend it as a rest cure. No one who knew me would have thought it was anything other than a strategy to get through the toughest time I've ever had. I might have been unable to work but I still had a toddler to give some kind of life to. Hope it gets sorted.

Pigsmummy Sat 26-Jan-13 14:11:31

Could she work from home?

tiggytape Sat 26-Jan-13 13:23:01

If she has refused lifts then she does not feel up to returning and that is her right. As others have said, having a broken ankle is much more debilitating than not being able to walk. She may be on strong medication and she will not have use of her hands for all the time she is standing up If you've never been on crutches, it is impossible to imagine how limiting it is:

You cannot carry a handbag even on your shoulder as it falls off as you hobble along
You cannot go up steps without risking falling or stopping to huff and puff after each set - it is exhausting hauling youurself around on your arms all day and effectively jumping up and down stairs.
You cannot open any doors that pull inwards and get through them before they shut on you.
You cannot stay upright without leaning on something and having something to rest your foot on.
You need to keep the leg elevated a lot of the time.
Going to the loo is a nightmare especially if it is a small toilet cubicle as your leg is rigid and immobile.
You cannot carry your lunch back to a table or to your desk.
You cannot carry a drink or cup of tea over.
Getting in and out of a car is an undignified shuffle with one leg left behind until you drag it in after you (and wearing trousers is difficult because of the cast so its not very dignified to clamber in a car in a skirt)
You cannot get the cast wet so have to be careful near water or in the rain
You cannot move fast so things like fire escapes and that would have to be considered.

When you're hobbling around at home and have someone on hand to help you move stuff (or don't need to move anything for the day) and can leave the toilet door open to give your leg more room then it is fine but going anywhere with a leg in plaster is very difficult. I imagine this is why she is signed off.
If you do force her into coming back, she is going to need a lot of help with daily tasks (no doubt her colleagues will begrudge her not being able to carry her own drinks!) and you'd have to do a risk assessment which I am pretty sure would show it is not safe for her to be there.

Of course she says she wants to return because you're all on her case but unless she has a ground floor, sitting down job with ground floor toilets and a kindly collegaue to do all her carrying and fetching, it isn't going to work.

ll31 Sat 26-Jan-13 13:06:29

if she's signed off it has to be for medical reasons, so ask hr to refer her to company dr. if dr has said she's unfit to work, u encourage/make hercome back early and theres accident , what is ur responsibility? i wouldn't dream of doing that...

MammaTJ Sat 26-Jan-13 13:06:09

there are people who would and have offered lifts

She has refused lifts. She does not want to be at work!

How long has she been off? I would say I would have struggled with any journey, or the thought of a day at a desk for the first three weeks after I broke mine, but after that I was climbing the walls and would have done anything to be able to work.

tiggytape Sat 26-Jan-13 13:01:46

That is very true Onewoman.
Whilst driving is totally impossible with a leg in plaster, many other things are also much harder or more dangerous too. Not being able to carry anything or use your hands when standing up, not being able to open doors that go inwards, not being able stay standing for very long as well as needing to avoid steps and being permanently off balance...

..the chances of falling over or hurting yourself again must be reasonably high when you are struggling around on crutches all day especially in bad weather and especially in a busy work environment.
It is one thing to be able to sit at home with your leg on the sofa and hobble around to get lunch but it is quite another thing to be able to do an 8 hour day at work whilst on crutches. It depends on the job and the building I guess. If it was a ground floor office and she could sit all day with her leg up to work and get a taxi to the door then that is one thing but if it involves standing or moving around or negotiating steps then there is no way a Dr should deem her fit even if the taxi was sorted out - she'll end up doing herself another injury.

Onewomanandherdog Sat 26-Jan-13 10:24:27

I too was off work for 12-13 weeks for a broken ankle. My company also wanted me back to work as soon as possible. It was about this time of year too and crutches don't work too well in the ice and snow! Steps were a massive problem as was going to the toilet through fire doors that I couldn't 'push'. There is also the issue that I needed to have leg elevated for at least 20 minutes of every hour. Can't carry anything etc. I went in for a chat with my line manager one day and pointed out all these things, sometimes people don't understand what day to day issues are involved.

MostlyFine Sat 26-Jan-13 10:22:18

I had knee surgery last year and was unable to drive but wanted to return to work and they paid for my taxi's to and from. My gp was happy to sign me back knowing that I would not be driving. Obviously this is only anecdotal but, once I stated I would rather come back I was pleased by the offer. I would not have been happy to be offered this without my first saying that I would like to return though so, so long as the employer brings it up I don't see any harm in offering so long as you enquiry about what else may be a hindrance for her

ifancyashandy Sat 26-Jan-13 09:31:02

I was off sick for 4 months with a broken leg. I was non weight baring, on crutches and in a cast following an operation post break. I would have loved to have been able to work but the pain killers I was on made me so floppy and exhausted that they plus the exhaustion of a bad break made it impossible. It's physically tiring being on crutches whilst your body heals a break.

If my managers were trying to get me back to work whilst I was legally signed off sick, I would have sought legal advice.

hotbot Sat 26-Jan-13 08:15:52

Follow h.r. Let her come into work late and leave early for extra travel time, her g.p. needs to send a fit note, o.h. Needs to assess her before she returns to work.
She can work in crutches, you just may need to allow her to work around it. Talk to her invite her in for a catch up
It really isn't rocket science and its not your responsibility to pay her taxi fares.

HecateWhoopass Sat 26-Jan-13 07:43:45

Do whatever you see fit. You're a manager. You've had advice from HR. You're surely not going to make a decision based on what some random people on the internet think, are you?

You don't need our agreement or approval or for us to agree with you that she really ought to come back to work.

Do what you think is the right thing to do.

breatheslowly Sat 26-Jan-13 00:45:46

I am really confused. The employee has indicated that she would like to be back at work and is only signed off because she can't drive there. Why is there a problem with the OP, the employee, HR, occupational health doc and the GP working together to find a solution that allows the employee to fulfil her desire to return to work earlier with suitable adjustments?

The employee may be lying about wanting to get back to work ASAP, but I think you should be able to take adults at face value and I would certainly rather my employer believed me.

AndFanjoWasHisNameO Fri 25-Jan-13 23:45:39

Tell the other employees if they're so jealous they can all go and break their own legs and have time off angry
I do know how frustrating this is-have managed large numbers of staff over the years and to see your team barely heads above water whilst someone 'isn't quite sure if they're up to returning yet. Maybe see in a couple of weeks' etc is hideous. However that is just the nature of large organisations. Your job is to adhere to the policy and tick your boxes-not create more problems for the future for yourself shelling out on cabs.
Believe me-employees will gladly fit and bullshit you about being desperate about wanting to come back when they don't but ultimately it's tough. She is off sick, not out dancing on her broken leg on the sly. Just leave her well alone-you really don't want to be accused of bullying once she returns.

tiggytape Fri 25-Jan-13 23:42:15

... and I'd tell HR to do their own dirty work if I were you because at the moment you stand to be held accountable if she happens to get advice or is in a union.

She has every right to be off sick, to be paid for being off sick (if that is company policy), to not return to work until she is deemed fit and to block you from any direct contact with her GP. I understand you're getting pressure from all sides but she is totally in the right and protected by law. Basically there is nothing you can do about it and trying to force her to come in is not on.

tiggytape Fri 25-Jan-13 23:36:42

fgs,I'm being told by hr,that I need to get her back to work, nothing to do with the other staff, just that she's being paid to do nothing and they don't like it

If you keep trying to find ways to get her to go back when she is signed off sick you are going to be risking a tribunal.
You shouldn't even be contacting her to question her degree of sickness. She is signed off sick and that's an end to it whatever HR or the other employess think. She would be entitled to lodge a grievance against you for harrassment if you keep calling her and trying to force her into returning when she has been deemed medically unfit to do so.

Greenkit Fri 25-Jan-13 23:28:32

Of course the company Dr can override what gp says esp as there is no obligation to keep paying her

But if you pay sick pay, then yes you are obliged to pay her, if she is signed off sick she isnt taking the piss FFS

ImperialBlether Fri 25-Jan-13 23:23:14

I really wouldn't want to work for your organisation, OP.

TheInnerSea Fri 25-Jan-13 23:17:25

fgs,I'm being told by hr,that I need to get her back to work, nothing to do with the other staff, just that she's being paid to do nothing and they don't like it. ultimately I'll have to do as I'm told.but have been looking for a way to avoid laying down the law. Of course the company Dr can override what gp says esp as there is no obligation to keep paying her. In any case the reality is that the Co Dr would speak to gp and agree what is or isn't ok for her in terms of travel and duties.

She can't work from home it's a customer facing role.

Enfyshedd Fri 25-Jan-13 23:08:20

One of my friends was off work for 3 1/2 months with a broken leg which required an operation following an accident. She was fed up of being at home and wanted to return to work. She might have cracked jokes about the perks of of being off sick included having hunky ambulance men carrying her up & down the stairs to her 2nd floor flat when she had hospital appointments, but she sure as hell wasn't enjoying having no independance and being trapped at home the rest of the time. If the doc has signed her off, then that is that.

HollyBerryBush Fri 25-Jan-13 22:59:19

the reason she's signed off is because she can't drive

I don't believe that at all!

She is signed off because she is unfit forwork NOT transpoert issues, otherwise ther would be a plethora of people stating they dont like public transport/broken down car and getting docs certs to cover.

Xmasbaby11 Fri 25-Jan-13 22:56:06

Just let her recover!

PrettyKitty1986 Fri 25-Jan-13 22:50:58

If she's already been in plaster for 10 weeks then I can't imagine it will take much longer. Personally I think you're being silly going the whole occ health route. It can take weeks or even months for an occ health process to be followed. It's not as simple as get her to see a co gp then boom, 2 days later she's back. I'd wait it out and certainly not be paying any taxis for her. It's the managers job to keep other employees toeing the line and people having the hump is not a reason to try and force her back to work.

HoHoHoNoYouDont Fri 25-Jan-13 22:36:27

I might be wrong here but I've been told that if your HR dept referred her to Occupational Health then the Occ Health doctor may be able to override her own GP. Doesn't happen that often but the doctor may pass the employee fit to do alternative work and also advise that the company arrange for suitable transport. I have a friend in Occ Health and she says this happens from time to time. Suppose it depends on the company and their policies.

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