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DH having return to work meeting-Advice?

(9 Posts)
alp Thu 25-Oct-12 06:45:28

Hi

DH has been off work for the past 3 months with depression. This is prob the third bout of absence in two years and the longest.

He's been working with his counsellor who has driven his absence for so long.

He is meeting with work colleagues today - its a small company with no HR team but they have been taking advice as they have formally applied for his medical records.

So my question is....how should he handle the meeting. He is feeling a little nervous about it.

He isn't taking anyone with him and I work for the most inflexible boss going so can't attend with him.

Thanks!

zippyrainbowbrite Thu 25-Oct-12 07:02:02

Hi,

You probably wouldn't be allowed in anyway, so try not to worry about not being able to go with him!

A return to work should primarily be about the employee - how are they feeling, are they well enough to return, are they likely to need more time off again in the future (if its a recurring thing), and if so is there anything that they or the employer could do to help prevent that e.g. If it was stress related then either party could suggest a reduction of hours or workload, a physical injury might not be able to lift heavy boxes any more.

The other thing that they usually want to discuss is absence rate (ie how many times he's been sick/absent within a certain timeframe, which varies by company). If they say his absence rate is high (which it probably will be after 3 months off) then he will probably be set a review date e.g in 8 weeks time, to see if its remained the same, lower or higher.

Sorry, didn't mean to go on for so long, hope that helps!

tribpot Thu 25-Oct-12 07:08:08

Should they be asking to see his medical records, particularly mental health records, or should they be requesting his has a formal assessment by occupational health specialists? I can't see why he should release his medical records to a bunch of laypeople.

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 25-Oct-12 08:30:53

As previously said it should be primarily about what the company can do to help the employee returning to work.
My company is tiny no HR team just me. At a return to work meeting I check that the employee feels they are up to their normal duties or would a phased return to work be better. Is the employee anticipating follow up medical appointments so we can plan round them.
A return to work meeting should be about the employer supporting the employee to help reduce the likelihood of illness recurrence in this instance.
If they have taken advice I suspect they will do it by the book so there maybe a form to fill in first.

flowery Thu 25-Oct-12 08:36:46

It's not any kind of formal hearing, so not something he would normally be allowed to bring anyone with him to, and even then unlikely to allow his wife, so don't worry about not being able to get time off.

As others said, it would normally be about how he is now, and exploring what if anything needs to be done to support him.

It would be extremely unusual for an employer to look at actual medical records. They can't see anything like that without his consent, so if he has consented to that, I would suggest withdrawing it. It's far more likely they've asked or intend to ask his doctor for a report on his condition and what they need to do to support him. Are you sure that's not what it is? Again he would need to consent to that, so check what was in the form or letter on which he gave his consent. He has the right to see a medical report also.

Sounds like his employer are doing a perfectly normal and responsible thing by meeting with him rather than launching him into work, and by taking advice.

zippyrainbowbrite Thu 25-Oct-12 08:38:28

I would have thought his medical records were confidential unless he volunteered them. They can obviously ask for a sick note (or the other one that's a statement of fitness for work), or then arrange for an assessment.

Sorry, I'm not in hr, so don't know exactly- I've done hundreds of these as a manager, and unless its someone where there are other performance issues (in which case I'd use the absence rate and 'company policy states it must stay under 3% or it can lead to disciplinary action' line), I'd genuinely use the meeting as a chance to check the person was ok, and if the job they were doing was the right hours etc for them.

If you suspect that their intentions might not be so honourable then I'd say no to the accessing his health records and maybe try to get some union advice.

alp Thu 25-Oct-12 08:41:24

Thanks for the posts so early in the morning! grin

He is a senior member of the team and been there for 19 years so I am hoping that they will be accommodating - they have been so far kept pay at full rate and are having meeting away from the office.

I think having the medical report has helped as it really proved there was something wrong and not just a 'he can't cope'

Hopefully by the reoccurrence of the depression (by sure what to call it) has made his work really take notice of what needs to be done to help him.

alp Thu 25-Oct-12 08:45:41

Zippy and flowery - sorry crossed posts!

Yes it was a medical report and DH was able to see it.

I do think they are doing the right thing but having never experienced this before - I like to know all the facts.

tribpot Thu 25-Oct-12 09:18:40

Okay, a medical report is very different from access to his records. And yes, records are confidential and consent must be sought to share them (except in a few, very exceptional circumstances which do not include an employer's desire to look at them).

It sounds like they're trying to do the right thing. Hopefully this means he will be able to make a successful return to work.

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