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Long term sick leave for a disabled person

(12 Posts)
thereinmadnesslies Sun 03-Feb-13 16:36:38

My mum is paraplegic and thus registered disabled. She's been disabled for approx 10 years.

She works part time as a TA in a school in the afternoons. However before Christmas she had an accident and broke both legs meaning that she was in hospital for the last two weeks of term, and has been at home and bed bound ever since. It looks like she will need another 2 months or so before her legs heal.

Her school have raised concerns about her sickness record. Approx a year ago she had several weeks off with pneumonia, otherwise she has had a couple of days off with d&v bugs (not surprising in a school environment). They asked her to attend a meeting which she couldn't attend so they held the meeting without her and she emailed them a orogress update. They are now saying that they expect her back at work mid-feb when her current sick note runs out (her surgery will only issue notes for three weeks at a time) and that further sick leave will lead to disciplinary action. There is no way that she will be back to work by mid feb - the plasters on her legs make it impossible to even get in her wheelchair and she is still on oxygen. I can't believe the school would want her back in her current state as she is a health and safety nightmare.

Reading that back sounds really bad, but when she is not ill with pneumonia or the broken legs her attendance is good and there have been no concerns about her performance etc. the school employed her as a disabled person (she had also worked their prior to disability) and had grants etc to make the school accessible which suited them as they needed to make adaptations to meet DDA legislation. The job is really important to DM because it make her feel 'normal' and gives her an interest. She doesn't really do the job for the money as I think she would be paid more in benefits than a TA salary, but if she loses this job she is unlikely to get another as a disabled woman in her late 50s, but god knows how ATOS would assess her.

I guess my question is - does DM have additional protection under the DDA even if her sick leave record would be considered poor for a non-disabled person?

PhilMcAverty Sun 03-Feb-13 21:14:08

They can't discipline someone for being genuinely ill and the school are on very, very shaky ground with what they're doing.

Can you go to the CAB on behalf of your Mum to see if they can recommend a course of action?

flowery Mon 04-Feb-13 10:46:49

It is perfectly possible and legal to issue a formal warning for a poor sickness record, regardless of whether it's genuine.

However, that's not the case where the absence is related to a disability, and disability or not, if the only absence (other than a couple of d&v days) someone has had in a whole year is due to something like broken legs, I would not see a disciplinary warning as at all appropriate or reasonable at this fairly early stage.

The schoool are also not following a reasonable process. If someone off sick is physically unable to attend a meeting to discuss their absence, they should not be penalised for that, and the meeting should be (for example) conducted at their home, or an alternative location to enable them to attend.

Is she in a union, and if so, are they involved?

Leaving aside the disciplinary issues, as a separate concern if your mum is not going to be able to do her job any time soon, she does risk being dismissed for capability reasons. The school is not obliged to keep her on indefinitely if there is no realistic prospect of her returning to her job or another job.

But anyway, the process they are following now doesn't sound reasonable in the circumstances, particularly given her disability, and I agree she needs to get some advice, from her union, if she's in one, and from the CAB as well.

CabbageLeaves Fri 08-Feb-13 18:16:22

Flowery I have a colleague who has absence related to disability and cannot do full role but can do 50%?? He has been offered equipment to help but full job is still not practical. He thinks HR are trying to get rid of him. They have had 2 meetings and asked him to consider moving into another role in company or reduce hours. He likes his job and doesn't want to, so is refusing. Can they do anything in this scenario?

Rockchick1984 Fri 08-Feb-13 19:29:36

Cabbage if his employer has offered reasonable adjustments to try and enable him to do his job, and he still can't then ultimately they will be forced to take him through disciplinary due to capability which will result in him being given the reduced hours, moved to another role or ultimately dismissed if no other alternatives are mutually agreeable.

flowery Fri 08-Feb-13 19:34:58

Yes absolutely.

So they've made adjustments to his own job with equipment.
They've offered to allow him to stay in his own job and adjust the content of it, reducing it to the element he can do, which would obviously involve a cut in hours
They've offered him alternative employment.

Sounds like they've been perfectly reasonable to me. What does he think they should be doing?!

I would suggest he cooperates with one of the suggestions pretty fast if he wants to keep his/a job. They are not expected to keep someone employed indefinitely who can't do the job they are employed for, and as long as they make reasonable efforts to adjust the job so it can be done, and/or find alternative employment, they are perfectly within their rights to dismiss him.

He needs to worry less about whether HR are 'trying' to get rid of him and cooperate so they don't have to!

flowery Fri 08-Feb-13 19:36:02

Oh, and OP? You're welcome, by the way, for the free advice you ignored... hmm

PhilMcAverty Fri 08-Feb-13 20:17:44

flowery - while not the OP, I've found the advice very helpful. I have a long-term medical condition that has seen me off work for a large part of a year and have a lot of worries about losing my job. Its useful to understand what my position is and also what my employer may do.

CabbageLeaves Fri 08-Feb-13 21:29:21

Thanks flowery. I am trying to encourage him to accept an alternative job but he's refusing. I just wondered what HR will do next. I think he thinks its as simple as refusing 'this time' and asking for a further meeting to discuss it in another month.

What does he think? Don't think he can see past his own situation. I sympathise but equally am one of his colleagues who has been managing the increased workload for months. He comes back for short bursts each time there is a meeting but tbh can't really cope and then goes off again. He's 'only' had 4 months off in the last 6 months so hasn't reached the 6 month trigger yet. He's planning another return soon and refusing an alternative job. At the last meeting he agreed but then denied he had afterwards. It's going around in circles. Very upsetting for everyone

CabbageLeaves Fri 08-Feb-13 21:33:01

Thanks to rock chick as well.

It has made me question the whole subject of working with a disability. Bit of a difficult area. He needs a job and employers want him at work. It's not happening though. Other staff and the work is suffering. But none of us can imagine losing our job either. I doubt his DLA is anywhere near a living amount. It's just a horrible situation. He's very angry about it all

Chottie Sat 09-Feb-13 05:17:01

Flowery just to say your comments are spot on and exactly what happens where I work.

flowery Sat 09-Feb-13 07:45:55

It is difficult. I hope your colleague can calm down a little. His anger and frustration are normal and understandable but directing it at his employers who sound like they are doing their best to support him and ensure he has a job is likely to be counterproductive.

Phil sorry to hear about your situation and I'm glad this thread is helping you.

Thanks Chottie

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