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To be skeptical of employees illness

(113 Posts)
ashvivienne Wed 24-Apr-19 09:20:33

A few weeks ago an employee on my team informed me that she had been given a cancer diagnosis quite recently but hadn’t informed us till she knew all the facts and exactly what was happening. She is in the early stages and has informed us that she’ll be receiving chemotherapy which she has now started.
We have had a meeting with our HR department and occupational health staff as she has said she’d like to continue working as long as possible. HR have asked for a letter from her doctor so we can obviously get the ball rolling on accommodations such as reduced hours and time off for appointments on sick pay rather than unpaid leave or holidays. She’s refused to give us any letters that she’s been given none and that if she goes to her GP she’ll need to pay for one (I’m going to discuss it with HR if we can pay for the letter).
She is obviously friends with some people in the office and we have each other on social media. She has been out heavily boozing on numerous nights out even since starting treatment and has even spent this bank holiday out for 3 days not returning home.
Aibu to be skeptical? It feels harsh and part of me does think maybe she is putting on a brave face but there just feels like something isn’t right.

MrsGrannyWeatherwax Wed 24-Apr-19 09:22:50

Depends on treatments etc but I often go on “boozy nights out” and don’t drink...

If you have any other reason to doubt then maybe but if not your being a little harsh - not many people would lie about cancer...

Ask her to get the letter from her doctor

SaskiaRembrandt Wed 24-Apr-19 09:25:21

I think YABU to be sceptical. She will have to pay for a letter. And a lot of people who'd just received a diagnosis of cancer would feel like letting their hair down while they still can. Nothing you have written suggests she is doing anything wrong, so unless she has a history of faking serious illnesses you might want to revise your opinion.

Grumpasaurous Wed 24-Apr-19 09:25:51

I think it’s fair to ask for the appointment confirmations, otherwise how are you as a business to plan, and also accommodate any further needs that may arise.

I’ve a chronic illness and am more than happy to let my employer have whatever they want from dr/hospital etc.

At one of my previous employers there was a bit in the contract about granting access to medical info should you be off long term sick or ‘regularly’ sick (the regularly bit was to discourage the Monday/Friday people that always seemed to be off IYSWIM).

I’d also be a bit sceptical, you’re offering support. She’s putting up barriers to that.

Specialkay1983 Wed 24-Apr-19 09:31:55

Your Company can pay for the letter. She will have to sign a consent form to access her medical records though. It might help if HR completes the referral form and she understands exactly what questions they are asking the GP? Maybe she worries that other information would be disclosed if she has previous medical history?

OneDayillSleep Wed 24-Apr-19 09:32:09

A relative of my husband has been battling breast cancer, her social media she's off on holidays, out enjoying herself etc, very happy fun stuff. The only sign she's been having chemo is that her hair is now a lot shorter. She's never posted anything to suggest she's battling a serious illness.

I'd wait before jumping to conclusions, you could get into a lot of trouble if she finds out you doubted her and she is really unwell.

ZoeWashburne Wed 24-Apr-19 09:35:47

This is a legal minefield, and HR are usually best pressed to handle things like this. At the crux, say that you need to see a letter from her doctor outlining what accommodations she is going to need and details of the type of time she will need off. If there is a cost, you should pay for it (usually around £30). That will tell you everything you need to know. Make it clear you are not asking about her medical history or private information, but rather the accommodations she may need and things you should be aware of as an employer.

Cancer is deemed a disability, legally. If you are wrong, this would be a costly, costly mistake. That being said, it couldn't hurt to screenshot some of the posts you are seeing.

When you have the doctors note, that should clear up a lot of the issues. You can check the note directly with the surgery if you are concerned about forgery. If she is refusing a note all-together, even if you are paying, then you should get direct legal advice.

MzHz Wed 24-Apr-19 09:38:12

Get legal advice - GOOD LEGAL ADVICE first and foremost

If she won’t provide documentation that helps you help her, then get a letter drafted (and double triple checked by aforementioned GOOD lawyer) that says that until she provides the standard information to support her health status then as a business you have no other option than to insist that all leave she takes will need to be either taken as part of her holiday allowance or unpaid.

Rosesaredead Wed 24-Apr-19 09:44:14

YABU. She must be terrified. No wonder she's being going on some boozy nights too, to have a break from feeling scared. Not all dancer have extreme symptoms right away, she might be feeling well enough to go out and try to drink away her worries but that doesn't mean she shouldn't let you, as her employer, know. Please don't voice your scepticism to her. That would be awful.

ashvivienne Wed 24-Apr-19 09:49:53

She’s part time with us and either works a morning or afternoon at the moment so we would like to get her on mornings only and be able to schedule in her days off after her treatment so she has two days off anyway and if she needs more there obviously wouldn’t be an issue she’s also been with us long enough that she’s entitled to 12 months of full sick pay.

BarbaraofSevillle Wed 24-Apr-19 09:52:52

Isn't this the sort of circumstance where a Fit Note from her GP is the answer? As in her GP will document what she is capable of and any adjustments that need to be made at work to accommodate her illness?

If she can't provide a Fit Note, it's up to your's employer HR/Occupational Health department to decide how to proceed.

PregnantSea Wed 24-Apr-19 09:56:55

YANBU to insist on a letter from her doctor. YABU to be sceptical of her illness based on her being seen on nights on via social media. It means nothing. People who have cancer aren't obliged to look sad and do nothing. It affects everyone differently. I know people who have battled through chemo, brightly coloured wig donned, and put a brave face on it all and tried to live their life to fullest throughout the whole process.

If your company stumps up the cost for the medical letter and she still refuses, at that point I would be very suspicious and start asking some questions. But not before then.

JudgeRindersMinder Wed 24-Apr-19 09:58:38

Why are you looking to change her working pattern to mornings only?

Dodie66 Wed 24-Apr-19 09:58:52

I know somebody who has cancer too and she enjoys going out for long walks, has drinks and tries to live a normal life as she can. No reason to stop living because you have cancer

adaline Wed 24-Apr-19 10:00:21

Don't judge by what you see on social media. I know plenty of people who have gone through pregnancies, cancer diagnoses' and more without uttering a single word on social media. Not everyone puts their personal business on Facebook.

YANBU to ask for a doctors' note, though. That's par for the course for any serious illness.

Reallyevilmuffin Wed 24-Apr-19 10:01:09

Your company needs to pay for an Occupational health assessment, not a letter from her GP.

TerryWogansWilly Wed 24-Apr-19 10:03:48

Yabu about social media. She can be sick and go out.

Yanbu about expecting her to sit down with HR and give something definitive from the doctor.

LuckyLou7 Wed 24-Apr-19 10:04:20

I worked with someone years ago, who pretended to have cancer. We, as a company, fundraised to send her and her 3 children on 'one last family holiday' to Disneyland. She cocked up by providing a fake letter from a non-existent oncologist when Occupational Health asked for details of diagnosis and treatment regime.

People do lie about serious illness, for time off work, and in this woman's case, monetary gain, but I'd like to think they are in a tiny minority.

ashvivienne Wed 24-Apr-19 10:06:46

Judge she said it would be easier to do mornings as it means she would be able to schedule any appointments for afternoons and she could just go home afterwards

qazxc Wed 24-Apr-19 10:07:45

I wouldn't judge based on social media. She might not want people to know that she is ill, she might want to go out and take her mind off things while she can.

Comefromaway Wed 24-Apr-19 10:10:37

My husband was diagnosed with a chronic illness last year (thankfully not life threatening as we first thought as he ws investigated for strokes and brain cancer) but at no time did he ever have to provide a letter from his doctor, and indeed would have refused to do so.

What his employer did was to send him to an external occupational health agency and although he had to give permission for them to share his information, they made an assessment based on what he told them and his medical report from the consultant.

overreactingperhaps Wed 24-Apr-19 10:11:08

Social media can be very deceiving.
Also, Doctor's notes don't seem to be the done thing these days, I remember struggling to get one from my GP.

However, she will surely get letters for appointments at hospital etc, for scans/first chemo appmt, so perhaps she could show you one of those?

Catchingbentcoppers Wed 24-Apr-19 10:13:28

I was recently diagnosed with cancer and had surgery. I'm about to start chemotherapy. I have not, and will not, put anything on social media about this. It's far too personal and truth be told I'm shitting myself. I have provided my employer with letter and doctors note as to why I'm not at work right now though and I haven't had to pay for any of them.

Pardonwhat Wed 24-Apr-19 10:14:33

If you were skeptical just based on her going out to enjoy herself I’d think you were a CF. But you’re right on the lack of forthcoming evidence front. How hard is it to even just provide a hospital appointment letter?

Xiaoxiong Wed 24-Apr-19 10:14:51

My dad worked with someone years ago who faked having cancer, she had loads of accommodations, time off for appointments, sick leave etc. Eventually it was found out, she admitted it and she was fired. He then heard a couple of years later through professional contacts that she actually got cancer (for real this time) sad

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