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Sickness following maternity leave - NHS unsocial hour payments.

(24 Posts)
TheDetective Thu 17-Jan-13 23:20:21

I am a little nervous about asking this. I need to ask though - as I may need to know.

Ok, so I am an NHS employee, and am on maternity leave. Due to return end of April after 6 months leave. I have a birth injury which is causing me problems. This may resolve itself please please please.

I was seen in outpatient clinic today to have it reviewed. I am told that they will not do anything for me before 6 months as a) it may resolve itself and b) it has to be given time to heal. I asked begged for something to be done sooner, as there is no way I could return to work at this level of discomfort particularly given the level of physical activity alternated with sitting - both are uncomfortable, differing in levels of pain over the day. (It is a very big and painful episiotomy, along with significant pelvic floor problems and vaginal pain on opening bowels sad )

I will be due back to work when my baby is just over 5 months old. I asked about having a repair before this date, as it feels like I have been stitched incorrectly. I was told no. I asked about work. I was told my GP should sign me off sick if I was unable to return.

But the problem is - I am the main (significantly main) earner in my household. I am desperately worried about the financial implications of this. I had to save for the 6 months maternity leave. I only have enough savings to last me til the end of the 6 months. I did not anticipate needing to be off longer than this. I have checked my works sickness/absence policy, along with the maternity policy, but the question I have is not answered.

If I had to be off sick for the repair to be done at 6 months, how would sick pay be calculated? Unsocial hour payments are almost a quarter of my wage. Someone suggested to me that I would receive full pay minus the unsocial enhancements as this is calculated over the previous 3 months earnings. As I will be receiving maternity pay (attracting half pay plus smp) I will not have earned anything to be entitled to 'full' sick pay as in unsocial enhancements. Can anyone tell me what the official line is on this one?

Sorry it is a bit long winded. I'm worried, and nervous - if you ask anything these days people seem to think you are a money grabber. All I want is to keep a roof over my family, and put food on the table without the debt collectors knocking at the door.

(Also don't want to ring work and ask just yet as it may be a non issue - it may well resolve itself, fingers tightly crossed.)

Any advice? Thanks.

pebblesandbamm Thu 17-Jan-13 23:23:10

Are you in a union? If so, might be worth a call to ask them.

TheDetective Fri 18-Jan-13 00:36:01

Yes, I am in Unison. I didn't find them helpful last time I had a question over agenda for change issues, but hopefully they might be better this time?

Thanks, I'll give them a call tomorrow. I had a look in the agenda for change handbook, but all it ever says is 'refer to normal sick pay provisions'!


flowery Fri 18-Jan-13 09:29:42

Is there no definition of 'full pay' in your sick pay policy? Surely many people in the NHS have variable pay of some sort, so if 'full' sick pay for a period is offered, surely that must be defined somewhere?

Ultimately if you want the official line you will have to ask your own HR department, if there is really no definition of what is meant by 'full pay' in the sick pay policy. Why does the fact that it might not happen mean you don't want to ask HR on a 'what if' basis?

TheDetective Fri 18-Jan-13 19:46:26

It is defined as your 3 previous wages averaged. But obviously maternity pay differs, or I would assume? I would like to think you would not receive detrimental treatment for being on mat. leave, but so far I have done - in that I have lost 6 bank hols from my holiday entitlement, as my maternity leave happened to fall in the 6 months with the most bank hols. sad Union tell me that this is right. Even though some Trusts do give you the leave entitlement.

So I am not holding out any hope! Am hoping someone who has had similar might be able to tell me what their Trust did. I don't know anyone IRL who has needed sick leave after maternity leave.

I don't want to ask HR as the last question I asked somehow got back to my line manager... hmm. I do not want to discuss this with them yet as I am hopeful things will improve. And I don't want to draw any attention to myself unnecessarily.

NorthernLurker Fri 18-Jan-13 19:51:02

I think you need a second opinion about the birth injury tbh. What is the basis for hoping things will improve in the next two months?

Then you are going to have to talk to HR I'm afraid.

knackeredmother Fri 18-Jan-13 19:52:39

If you do not get the unsocial hours payments would you then go back? I guess they may take the line that you can't decide whether or not to go off sick depending on your sick pay- you are either sick or you are not.
Your GP could sign you off to return on amended duties - not sure if that would work?

TheDetective Fri 18-Jan-13 20:10:36

No, I couldn't go back the way things are at the moment, I want to know about pay so I am not burying my head in the sand about how hard things will be. As in, do I need to lie awake worrying, or can I rest easy that we will not struggle while I recover to a degree that work is possible.

And if I know, I can try and beg my Dad to help in some way (Mr. Moneybags, but stingy) either paying for me to access private healthcare, or helping me financially while I need the time off. I would hope he would help me if it came down to it, but I need to be able to lay it all down on paper for him. I can't go to him with maybes...

Or we will have to get a loan probably.

Northern I am intending to go back to my GP. On reflection last night I decided to ask for a second opinion, and by a consultant only. I am usually a very assertive person, so I need to assert myself in this case too.

TheDetective Fri 18-Jan-13 20:19:30

Oh, the basis of hoping for improvement is that they could not see what the problem was yesterday, other than it being 'a very large episiotomy'. This is all I keep being told. It bled when it was examined yesterday. It is constantly uncomfortable, but I am told fobbed off that it is just healing, and because it is so big it will take time.

But I explained that I couldn't reliably do things, I can walk around and leave the house, gentle housework, but it is always a low level of pain, which suddenly increases without warning, and can leave me in tears. For example, I did the food shop, pushing a trolley around. I was clamping my legs together and wincing with every step long before I could finish the shopping. I sat on a regular hard chair, for 2 minutes. It left me in tears. Sitting on both cheeks is uncomfortable.

Life is just uncomfortable, and a few times a day, painful. It is difficult to describe to be quite honest. It is like one side is pulling the other, and the scar that is on my bottom (actually on my bottom, you can see it with my legs closed) rubs with movement - it is about 0.5cm wide. The scar on the inside also rubs with movement. There is burning pain, throbbing pain, dragging pain, sharp pain. It varies.

I honestly feel it has not been stitched correctly. It feels tight, and not lined up.

Oh, sorry for getting a bit personal. I'm too used to talking about it now! blush

barleysugar Fri 18-Jan-13 20:19:44

I would ask occ health rather than HR, they are more helpful WRT returning to work as they are more protective over you than the hospital/dept in my experience. They are likely to recommend changed duties at work and a phased return probably, which would be paid for, and won't want you to return to work if you are likely to do further damage or harm.

knackeredmother Fri 18-Jan-13 21:04:22

Did you see a consultant? I would def ask for a second opinion, that does not sound right at all. Poor you.

TheDetective Fri 18-Jan-13 21:39:56

Thank you. I will go back to the GP, and then contact Occupational Health.

I'm more than happy to work, because I need the pay!! I am not sure what could be done though, as I am clinical believe it or not I'm a midwife. Will have to see what is said nearer the time. If I am not right in 8 more weeks, then I will have to discuss matters with work. That gives them 6 weeks notice to find a solution.

knackered No, I saw a Registrar. She was kind, but seemed at a loss as to what was causing the pain other than the size of it hmm and recommended physio for pelvic floor issues. But I have already asked for a referral to them from the GP, and there is a long wait yet apparently. I'm definitely going to get a second opinion.

A man wouldn't put up with this! 'Oh here's a lovely baby, sorry about the pain, you'll just have to live with that'. hmm

I'm feeling all feministic these days!

TheDetective Fri 18-Jan-13 21:42:09

I would like to ask for a referral to where I work, as I wonder if my colleagues would help me quicker. But I don't like mixing work with pleasure so to speak. I did not have my baby where I work. Perhaps I should have done? It is something I am thinking about though. A referral to where I work that is.

twinklytoes Fri 18-Jan-13 21:48:27

you can get unsocial payments on sick leave but only long term sick, I believe. the same goes if you were placed on a disciplinary in the nhs.

tbh I've only paid unsocial payments for people on long term sick (over a month was probably the shortest period) - certainly don't do it for the odd day here and there.

So the way I pay it (and this is where you need to check procedure) - person goes off sick, provides a long term "not fit for work". I complete a "change form" stating person off sick for X weeks, please pay average % unsocial pay. This is passed to a HR admin who processes and informs the payroll team.

This is a seperate process to the timesheet recording. As and when the person returns I have to complete a further "change form" to tell payroll to stop the % unsocial payment.

Now, this payment is made based on a % of unsocial hours achieved in the previous 12 weeks of employment.


TheDetective Fri 18-Jan-13 22:25:52

So what would you do if the person was on maternity leave twinkly?

For what it is worth, where I work (and have worked) have always paid unsocial hours payments (based on previous 3 months pay) regardless of length of absence.

TheDetective Fri 18-Jan-13 22:26:33

I think I am going to have to ring work. I just can't find answers anywhere. Damn it. Google - you are NOT my friend!!

NorthernLurker Fri 18-Jan-13 23:41:31

I agree you should ring work and yes do get your colleagues to help you. Wait and see just isn't good enough!

missingmumxox Sat 19-Jan-13 00:34:29

first off talk to payroll, I have no idea about unsocial hour payments after mat leave with sick leave, but I do know that sick leave is separate to mat leave, I was a 9 to 5er by the time I went on Mat leave.
if you haven't taken 6 months sick in the last rolling year you maybe coveredd, as I had a hidious amount of sick leave in my first year back after mat leave, all unconnetected with the pregnancy, cardiac abrasion 2 weeks off perfarated eardrum 3 weeks off, and lastly infected excema 2 weeks off and I got full pay for all, dispite the fact I was spent the last months of my pregnancy off sick with SVT and SPD several weeks as an inpatient on the Cardiac ward and anti-natal ward (I had a year mat leave)
Next stop as barley sugar said, Occ Health, you may be able to return to work but not in a physical role as such if you are able to do this.
good luck

MrsMiniversCharlady Sat 19-Jan-13 09:37:05

I'm not normally a litigious person, but do you think that there's a possibility that your birth injury may be in part due to your treatment? If so, would it be worthwhile speaking to a lawyer about whether you may be due some compensation to reflect any loss of earnings you may suffer as a result?

TheDetective Sat 19-Jan-13 13:29:36

I don't think it is something I could sue for. Not at this point. I'd have to prove that what they did was malpractice and unfortunately I don't think it necessarily was. However I do have a birth plan which they had which clearly stated no episiotomy for instrumental so I may have a case there. But, I doubt it to be quite honest.

I did think about it, but essentially they can claim that they had to do it to 'prevent increased risk of morbidity or mortality'.

All I really want is to be back to normal sad

TheDetective Sat 19-Jan-13 15:59:50

Okay, I have my answer - an old colleague of mine is in a similar situation. You do just get basic pay. Damn.

Well, at least now I know and can beg my dad to help me and can try and make provisions just in case.

I have put the figures through a tax calculator, and luckily it isn't as bad as I thought, but still, it would be tight. Very tight.

AmandinePoulain Sat 19-Jan-13 16:09:41

I can't help with the sick pay but I do r think that your union is right about the bank holiday payments. I'm on maternity leave and just before I started our policy changed to allow us to accrue bank holidays whilst off, so I had to suddenly fit in 20 extra hours AL before I finished work which was most upsetting obviously. It's because you shouldn't be discriminated against for being on ML - you have to have the same rights and benefits as everyone else. Get hold of your most up to date policy and get back onto the union - if nothing else at least it'll delay your return to work a bit. Good luck.

AmandinePoulain Sat 19-Jan-13 16:11:43

Sorry that should say 'DON'T think' in the first sentence, I'm on the app and there is an 'i' box over that part of the text so it's impossible to proof read it blush

RubyrooUK Sat 19-Jan-13 16:27:27

I would prioritise sorting out the birth injury right now. Definitely get a second opinion.

I had an episiotomy, fourth degree tear through virtually every part of me and I wasn't in that kind of pain you describe after the first few weeks.

Once it healed it felt weird but not too painful to work (although I had plenty of other things - mastitis, non-sleeping baby waking and breastfeeding every 45 mins that means the birth injury doesn't stand out for me in that tricky time).

So definitely keep badgering if you feel things aren't right. I demanded a referral to a birth injury specialist and a physio, which really helped. How old is your baby now? It still sounds like quite early days.

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