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Sickness disciplinary for miscarriage absence

(21 Posts)
PseudoBadger Wed 06-Mar-13 20:04:59


I have recently returned from 8 weeks sickness absence (4 weeks actual mechanics of miscarriage etc and 4 weeks signed off due to trauma and anxiety).

My managers are lovely and have bent over backwards to help me out and I am still on a phased return working slightly shorter days.

However since I work for a large organisation (local govt) this level of absence has triggered a stage 1 sickness disciplinary process. My managers have told me that they are only going through with it to meet the policy, and that they are not angry with my sickness. However, can anyone tell me whether miscarriage would count as pregnancy related and therefore should not go against my record?

CarpeJugulum Wed 06-Mar-13 20:18:51

First, I'm so sorry for your loss sad

I'm not an HR expert, but i do deal with wages and I know normal pregnancy absence is supposed to not be treated with "normal" absence. This is backed up by the EHRC here

I'd be querying it.

MrsSpencerReid Wed 06-Mar-13 20:24:17

No advice, just wanted to say thats shit and I really hope it's a box ticking exercise. Look after yourself

PseudoBadger Wed 06-Mar-13 20:35:42

Thank you both, and thanks for that link Carpe as it specifically mentions miscarriage should be treated as pregnancy related.

Now I've already been a bit silly as when I came back my brain still wasn't functioning as sharply as normal (counsellor says I have mild PTSD due to the specific circs - I don't want to go into it but there is a thread if you're minded to search). So when my manager invited me to the meeting I just went along with it like a meek little lamb, applied no critical thinking at all, didn't invite a Unison rep or anyone else. So the meeting has already taken place and I'm now on my 4 week review period. So I'll talk to unison tomorrow, but I guess since the process has already been in essence completed there may not be much they can do?

During these 4 weeks I can't have any time off or the process will go to stage 2 - well I'm pregnant again and still pretty run down from previous events so I'm going to struggle into work tomorrow with a bad cold <groans>

stargirl1701 Wed 06-Mar-13 20:39:54

Please get in touch with your union as soon as possible. Maybe an email tonight?

isitreallysostrange Wed 06-Mar-13 20:47:54

'Pregnancy and maternity' is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, they should record pregnancy related absence separately. I work in local government and we have an corporate Equality and Diversity Officer - if you have one give them a ring and ask their advice if you can (ours is super helpful and friendly). Sorry you've had a rough time, take care

mamadoc Wed 06-Mar-13 20:56:28

Not much help but I had a similar problem when I had 3 miscarriages in a row.
I had about 2 weeks off for each and, as you say, that was the minimum I needed both physically and emotionally.
I was quite shocked to find myself called in for an interview re: my sickness absence. It was automatically triggered and my manager was quite embarrassed about it and kept saying it was just procedure. Nothing really came of it but I am cross that it is still on my record.
I did wonder if it was sex discrimination or something but I wasn't in a strong place mentally after all that and just let it wash over me.
Congratulations on your pregnancy. I did go on to have my ds on the 4 th attempt. Hope things work out well for you too.

PseudoBadger Wed 06-Mar-13 20:58:42

That's absolutely it Mamadoc - it's only 2 weeks on that I've started to think that this isn't right. I'm so sorry that you've been through it too.
I'll email first thing Stargirl.

thekingfisher Wed 06-Mar-13 20:59:54

see here

VivaLeBeaver Wed 06-Mar-13 21:00:22

They're definitely not allowed to count it. I work for the Nhs and we have the automatic sickness disciplinary thingy after I think three episodes of sickness. But they can't include/count anything related to a pregnancy or miscarriage.

You need to talk to hr and/or unison tomorrow. The HR dept should know this even if your line manager doesn't so they might help?

I'm sorry for your loss.

spanky2 Wed 06-Mar-13 21:04:44

That is awful . Procedure !! Talk about kick you when you're down . Join Unison . Poor you.thanks

GinAndSlimlinePlease Wed 06-Mar-13 21:06:51

pseudo sorry about your miscarriage, I hope this pregnancy is a sticker for you.

Definitely talk to your union ASAP. It shouldn't matter if the process has been started. Any time off related to miscarriage counts as pregnancy and should be exempt. That will count for your new pregnancy too.

I'm just back after my miscarriage. I had 22 days off work, which frankly wasn't enough as I'm still in pain and bleeding. Another friend had 5 weeks off. So please don't feel as if you had too long off. I've got my back to work interview with my boss. he'll be a nob, so I've done my research before going in.

I hope you manage to resolve everything.

spanky2 Wed 06-Mar-13 21:06:56

Sorry I see you are a member of a union .

PseudoBadger Wed 06-Mar-13 21:20:10

Thank you all again. Gin I'm so sorry sad - if you're still in pain and bleeding are you getting this checked out? I was like that for 4 weeks before they bothered to do the erpc.

hermioneweasley Wed 06-Mar-13 22:21:05

Really sorry to hear about your MC. Sounds like you've had a rough time of it. I don't know of any case law on it, but i suspect that While your miscarriage would be covered under the normal pregnancy discrimination rules (ie: can't escalate a sickness process if absence due to pregnancy) the additional 4 weeks would not be protected. The reason I say this is that PND is not protected as men can get depression too, so that seems a parallel situation.

Hope it was a straightforward meeting and you have a better run of luck with your health.

ILikeBirds Wed 06-Mar-13 22:27:05

Is it really a disciplinary?

I work for local government and we'd have a similar process but it's not a disciplinary procedure (although many are fond of calling it that)

It's simply a method of looking at asking some questions and looking at whether support can be in place to prevent further absences. I've had one after reaching a trigger level, not much time off but a number of separate absences. The meeting could basically be summed up as 'looks like you've had a run of bad luck with illness, I'll note no support required, the end'

PseudoBadger Thu 07-Mar-13 07:22:27

ILikeBirds - my employer has only one sickness policy called managing sickness. It's a lovely policy with disciplinary options built in straight away. There are I think 3 steps - step one triggered after so many days which automatically puts you on a 4 week review period. If during this period your sickness doesn't improve then you go to step 2 - even more formal meetings and another review period. Then step 3 which can I believe include dismissal. I'll check the details today.

Zavi Fri 08-Mar-13 13:18:35

This will count on your record as it is "personal" to you. Some people would have needed less than 8 weeks off, others would need more. Just depends on the individual's response - physically and emotionally.

The point is: there is no longer anything physically preventing your return to work. The nature of your sickness absence is now emotional/psychological - so will have no anticipated "cure" timeline associated with it...

Given the length of time you have already had off sick, your company has a statutory obligation to establish whether or not there is anything in your job that is causing or contributing to your continuing absence.

The other reason, of course, for this process having been triggered, is because your company can not be expected to pay for employees sickness ad infinitum.

I think your company has had to do this as, in the past, public service workers (with their very generous sickness absence policies) were notorious for taking the piss wrt time off for sickness (whilst on full pay).

PseudoBadger Fri 08-Mar-13 14:39:30

Well thanks, but I've been back for 4 weeks now.

Zavi Fri 08-Mar-13 18:09:46

Yes, but you haven't felt able to do a full days work since you returned...

Also, I did link, as you suggested, to this awful event and it happened at the end Nov/start Dec - so it happened just over 3 months ago, not 8 weeks ago.

I'm mentioning that so you are clearer about your actual timelines when you go to bone up on your company's sickness policy.

VivaLeBeaver Fri 08-Mar-13 18:30:18

I really don't think it matters how long you're off for, as long as you have a sick note.

They still can't count it. I'm no expert but the reason I understand why they can't count it is to do with indirect sex discrimination. A man can't get pregnant or have a miscarriage so you can't get such sickness with women as if you did it means that women are more likely to have disciplinaries, notes on their record, etc.

Which would be wrong.

Also such a sickness policy doesn't concern itself with length of sickness but rather number of episodes.

With the Nhs you'd be in more trouble for having three days off if they were all separate episodes than someone who has a year off.

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