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...to go on holiday while signed off sick?

(42 Posts)
Owlzes Wed 01-Mar-17 13:40:10

Sorry if this is long. Trying to cover everything.

I have worked in current workplace 3 years. Ever since starting I've been open about the fact I have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, but it's mostly been under control. For the last 3 years I've had a pretty good winning streak of beating the condition and haven't needed any time off with it at all and generally have a pretty decent sick record, got glowing appraisals, exceeded targets etc. This has all come to a bit of a halt lately and I've been signed off sick with a pretty miserable depressive episode after a fairly inept suicide attempt.

No hospital time, thank god, but too mad to work. I'm currently off sick this week, and the doctor is suggesting that we look at a temporary shift to part time hours when I do feel better (hopefully next week) which he thinks we trial for 2-4 weeks and then build me back up to full time, depending on how things go. My work have been lovely and supportive about this and I really appreciate them.

The issue I have is that bang in the middle of this is a 5 day holiday I booked months ago. Currently it's signed off as annual leave, but my manager commented today that we'd need to sort out what we're doing with that as technically I'm not meant to be taking annual leave while I'm signed off work sick. Which is lovely of him (he meant that I should take it at another time or carry over to next AL year) but I'm now fretting a bit.

The holiday is a short flight to a location close by my family (who live abroad) in a nice posh villa with a swimming pool. I'd have support from family there, wouldn't have to cook or clean or do anything except swim and lie by the pool and it would probably cost us the flights, hire car, villa etc if we cancelled. I'd like to go (although my DP says it depends on how I am and whether he feels confident putting me out of reach of the crisis team) but I'm really worried that me being signed off sick and then buggering off on holiday is taking the piss. My work have been really lovely and supportive and I don't want to abuse their generosity.

What should I do? How would you feel if you were my manager?

RB68 Wed 01-Mar-17 13:44:05

Sounds to me like its just what you need and if I were your manager I would encourage you to go and work around it.

If you are signed off sick I would also refund your holiday as that is what yu are supposed to do. Think of it as someone with a mental health issue spending time with family - the fact it is in a different country is a bit irrelevant as long as you are open with work and they agree shouldn't be an issue

CharlieDimmocksbosoms Wed 01-Mar-17 13:44:59

Can you talk to your Manager and ask that as your signed off anyway for that leave time is it possible to cancel the annual leave ( and maybe forgo it) and use the sick leave to cover the time?

Owlzes Wed 01-Mar-17 13:47:30

CharlieDimmocksbosoms - manager seems to think that the annual leave should be cancelled, for sure. That's what he suggested today. He thinks, as it's only five days, I can carry it over into the new leave year and don't lose it.

I don't know if I'll be back part time by then or not. If I am, I could ask for two days or whatever as annual leave. I just feel bad saying "I know I'm too sick to work, but I'm well enough to go on holiday" when I definitely won't be back full time by then.

Piffpaffpoff Wed 01-Mar-17 13:47:54

If you are signed off sick and have holidays booked then I think you are supposed to get the holiday time put back into your entitlement. This is certainly what happened when DH was signed off and had holidays booked.

Astoria7974 Wed 01-Mar-17 13:52:28

My workplace is the same, won't let you take holiday in the middle of sick leave, and my bosses would be pissed off if they found out I went on holiday during sick leave.

Grenoble124 Wed 01-Mar-17 13:52:52

I suffered a miscarriage before. Was signed off sick and spoke to work who agreed that I could travel on my prearranged holiday. When you're sick you're sick. Might be different if it was a bad back etc.

raindripsonruses Wed 01-Mar-17 13:53:30

Your manager needs to ask the HR department for its call on this. The problem from a strictly business point of view is, I speculate, whether it artificially stops the clock for the purposes of calculating sick leave. It sounds like the holiday is just the thing for you right now but whether it should be treated as paid leave is not obvious. You would not be in the office working if you were not on holiday.
I really hope you get back to full strength soon; you could do without this hassle.

raindripsonruses Wed 01-Mar-17 13:55:11

If you can carry the leave over, that sounds like a positive thing.

Owlzes Wed 01-Mar-17 13:59:17

raindripsonruses - in terms of my pay it doesn't make much difference either way - my work's policy on sick pay is that I receive full pay for the first 6 months, so I would be getting full pay whatever.

It just seems so bloody stupid to lose £££ if I don't have to, and I really miss my family and don't get to see them that often. But equally, I get that it's also swimming pool and sea, and spa and that kind of looks bad.

harderandharder2breathe Wed 01-Mar-17 14:00:10

When i was signed off last year (MH issues) I still went on a couple of previously booked short breaks. Work knew about it and were fine. I got my annual leave allowance back for those days as well

TwentyCups Wed 01-Mar-17 14:02:11

Talk to your manager, she/he sounds supportive. I wouldn't harbour resentment towards you as a colleague. Sounds like just what you need. It would be different if you were off sick with flu or something.

Joyofscreamingjoy Wed 01-Mar-17 14:02:43

When I was off for similar mental health reasons on my return to work form there was a standard 'tick box to say you were to ill to leave house bar medical etc' (kind of along those lines anyway) I was honest and said I'm sorry I took dog out & went to stay with family (not abroad) etc as that was what was recommended during therapy and they were completely fine. My manager at the time said you do what you need to do to get well. She was very clued up on MH though and is great. See what doctor says about being out of reach of crisis team & if they ok/agree it would be good, speak to your manager /HR and see what they say. Going on holiday is very very different from the stresses of work.

RebelandaStunner Wed 01-Mar-17 14:03:51

You aren't taking the piss. Go on the holiday and relax.
I went on holiday when I was off sick, work were fine about it.

InTheDessert Wed 01-Mar-17 14:05:08

I don't think your manager is saying you can't go on holiday. He is saying the work paper trail cannot cope with sick/holiday/sick. Therefore if you are signed off sick at this point, your trip abroad has to be covered by sick leave, not annual leave.

It sounds like it would be good for you to go.
If you were claiming you couldn't go to work due to a broken back, and then posted pictures of you bungee jumping, the holiday is inappropiate. But you are going on a relaxing break, with supportive family around. I can't see the issue.

turbohamster Wed 01-Mar-17 14:06:53

Will your travel insurance cover you to travel abroad whilst signed off sick?

ChicRock Wed 01-Mar-17 14:08:39

I'm guessing from the 6 months full pay on sick leave you're NHS or similar?

It's quite simple, if you're back at work - even in a phased return/part time capacity - then the time off will be classed as annual leave.

However if you're still signed off as not fit to work, and you haven't made a return to work, then it's sick leave, regardless of whether you're at home under a duvet or relaxing in the sun by a pool.

Enjoy! It sounds just what you need.

LouiseTM Wed 01-Mar-17 14:10:59

Sounds like its just what you need, cover it up as visiting family rather than a holiday though.

Owlzes Wed 01-Mar-17 14:11:40

turbohamster - I think, having checked this out before, yes but not for any medical expenses that arise as a result of the pre-existing medical condition. So, if I break my leg jumping into the pool, that's covered. If I try and kill myself and get admitted to a hospital out there, then no.

But having said that, if my MH takes a dive out there, realistically what's going to happen is that I am harder work for my family to cope with or my DP sticks me on a flight back home - there are multiple flights per day to our nearest airport and while that wouldn't be cheap, it's affordable. And I don't think I'm going to have a breakdown when there. I feel like I hit rock bottom a few weeks ago. I'm just trying to find my way back now.

Karmaisabitch Wed 01-Mar-17 14:13:06

Doctors encourage holidays for mental health problems.

You are still within your right to go abroad.

Also, if you fall ill whilst actually on holiday, you can switch your annual leave to sick leave but still be on holiday.

PageStillNotFound404 Wed 01-Mar-17 14:16:20

If you're not well enough to be at work, you're not well enough to take paid annual leave. So your absence should be covered by your fit note and the days of annual leave be credited back to your leave allowance.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't go on your booked holiday. Being able to go on holiday does not automatically mean you're able to go to work. Especially as you're signed off with a mental health condition. A holiday may be really beneficial to helping you regain equilibrium.

You're signed off from work, not from life.

LittleRed90 Wed 01-Mar-17 14:17:25

I was in the same situation except I was recovering from surgery. If you have a sick note, your employer has to add those holidays back onto your leave card for you to take another time so your manager is doing the right thing.

I wouldn't fee guilty about going away. You have a mental illness and your doctor knows best. Go away and have a lovely time. It'll do you the world of good by the sounds of it smile

1bighappyfamily Wed 01-Mar-17 14:19:14

I suffered a miscarriage before. Was signed off sick and spoke to work who agreed that I could travel on my prearranged holiday. When you're sick you're sick. Might be different if it was a bad back etc.

I was coming to post exactly the same thing. And that few days in the warm sun (was this time of the year) was exactly what I needed.

YANBU and I hope you get back to balance very soon. Best of luck to you.

bigearsthethird Wed 01-Mar-17 14:28:36

I think you ought to speak to your manager and explain that the trip is already booked and it would actually be good for you to go as planned. be upfront about it. But you should check first because it doesn't look good going on holiday when you are signed off work sick, unless they have agreed it under the circumstances.

Whathaveilost Wed 01-Mar-17 14:29:13

I work for. Local authority. You cant be on sick leave and holiday leave at the same time it's one or the other.

Once I have had a holiday booked for 9 months time. I then needed an operation at relatively short notice and time to recover. My holiday leave was cancelled and the hours put back on to my allowance I spent a week in the Lake Distrct recovering. My manager encouraged me to go and Sid it would force me way from the house where I was fretting that things wasn't getting done!!

Other staff have had similar things happen to them.
Take the sick leave, go on holiday and use it as part of your recuperation.

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