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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.

C8H10N4O2 Wed 24-Apr-19 17:26:27

Line Managers need to have a understanding of their employee's conditions, disabilities etc to manage them effectively.

As I said up thread, they need enough info to honour adjustments needed and expectations around capabilities. They don't need access to the sick person's medical details and shouldn't have it.

How can a line manager, manage their staff if they don't know about any conditions/ disabilities? They can't.

Every OH summary to LMs I've ever seen has managed to summarise needs against a high level description and not provided medical details. Unless the LM is a medical professional with knowledge of the condition it doesn't actually help them to know more medical details. Letters/reports from the medical team should go to HR/OH not LMs.

They have a duty to protect and treat any knowledge they have confidentially. And quite frankly if they are unable to do this then they shouldn't be managing people.

I agree entirely. However we both know there are a great many managers in the latter category. Many of them seem to post here... And as I said upthread - a good LM will hopefully have the relationship where their staff can talk to them anyway.

If LM wants more information than they actually need to do their own job then they should probably consider the quality of the relationship they have established rather than challenge a sick or disabled employees need for some privacy through illness.

C8H10N4O2 Wed 24-Apr-19 17:28:48

Incidentally as far as I can see the sick person has not refused to provide a letter or evidence from the doctor - she has said that she cannot get one without paying for it, which is not the same thing at all.

itstheweekend2 Wed 24-Apr-19 17:44:19

I suppose then time will tell if this is a diversion tactic or genuine lack of any other form of evidence .

outpinked Wed 24-Apr-19 17:51:52

My best friend’s Mum recently died of cancer. You’d never have guessed she was even sick judging by her social media account. She was off on holidays living life to the full until she was physically unable to. I really wouldn’t judge by this alone.

It also takes a certain type of sicko to lie about a cancer diagnosis...

CherryPavlova Wed 24-Apr-19 18:00:40

I drank beer through chemo. It tasted less metallic than wine and could be served really cold.
I went out for evenings as doing a dying swan was so dull.
I don’t think I ever gave over a doctors letter; it wasn’t requested or necessary. I could describe what reasonable adjustments I wanted better than my GP as I understood how I felt and what my job involved.
I was never seen by occupational health. No need as I wasn’t off sick much. I had a total of 14 days which was time off spread out for for surgery, chemo and radiotherapy.
I went to Egypt on holiday.

I think you’re being judgemental and unkind. If you are a line manager your behaviour is shockingly shabby.

Namechangeforthiscancershit Wed 24-Apr-19 18:26:24

I have metastatic cancer and am hoping to do a bit more by way of palliative chemo but I really doubt I'll see my next birthday (36).
I've worked full time through 2 years of treatment and hoping to keep going. I don't put anything on SM other than highly filtered photos of me, usually with some booze! Why not?

I haven't been asked to "prove" anything and I don't open my CCed letters from clinics, though I do open appointment ones so I could take those in I guess if necessary?

RB68 Wed 24-Apr-19 18:39:59

It needs to be a fit note from the GP and if that needs to be paid for (shouldnt but may) to say she is ill, but fit to work with adjustments or reduced time or whatever it is she needs. This can then be discussed with OH and HR. I would treat it as genuine until proven otherwise - you have no other option

JaneEyre07 Wed 24-Apr-19 18:47:55

My Dad is undergoing treatment for rheumatoid arthritis at the moment. He keeps all of his hospital letters in a folder.... so far, he has around 30 and that's been since November.

As an employer myself, I'd be very suspicious of an employee who couldn't provide some kind of evidence about a serious ongoing illness. You can't trust everyone, sadly, and it's hardly fair to everyone else if this person IS swinging the lead and being paid for time off/disrupting work levels.

Catchingbentcoppers Wed 24-Apr-19 20:36:53

@Namechangeforthiscancershit I'm so sorry. flowers

yorkshirepud44 Wed 24-Apr-19 21:35:52

I'm hr and I would always start at the point of totally believing an individual about this kind of thing unless the evidence to suggest otherwise were right in front of me.
Anyone who would make this kind of thing up would equally concern me on grounds of their mental health tbh.

Do not accuse or show any suspicion unless you're up for a costly tribunal. If evidence presents itself, get legal advice at every stage to deal with it.

MissEliza Wed 24-Apr-19 22:44:20

My dm and dh have both had cancer. Dh was caught in the early stages, while my DM unfortunately died of it. Both of them had a mountain of correspondence with all hospital appointments etc. Surely she could produce a letter with a hospital appointment? We would also get copies of every letter the consultant wrote to my dh's GP. I don't know if that's standard as dh has private insurance.

LuckyLou7 Fri 26-Apr-19 05:52:44


Fucking hell. I am so sorry. Is there anything you need that might make things more bearable?

StealthPolarBear Fri 26-Apr-19 06:36:27

Namechangeforthiscancershit that is awful sad

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