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My doctor and work doctor disagree, what now?

(20 Posts)
Technical Mon 03-Mar-14 13:30:48

I had been off sick following a long illness and an operation, for 6 months. At my last appointment with the consultant, I asked him to sign me fit to work as my paid sick leave was coming to an end - he would have given me another sick certificate if I'd wanted it but gave me a fit note saying I should have a phased return building up to a max of 5 hours per day for 3 months (I officially work f-t)

Work felt the phasing was too slow and I was either fit to work with a shorter phased return building up to f-t within c. 6 weeks or that I wasn't actually fit to work at all. I had returned to work in January had and built up to 5 hours pd.

Meantime, work sent me to see the LA doctor (I work in a school) and they have actually said they don't think I should be at work at all, or if I am it should be for a max of 3 hours per day for at least 12 months. This is not feasible for my place of employment (who have been brilliant) or for me as I need to be paid f-t (or close to)

ATM I am doing the 3 hours and am on half-pay for the remaining hours of the working day but this is not sustainable for my employer, they need someone there f-t and it won't be easy to recruit to fill my un-worked hours.

What happens now? Who gets the final say, the work doctor or my consultant? What are the likely implications for me? Do they have to let me do the 3 hours or can they make me stay at home? Can I lose my job for being unwell? As I have been back to work, do I get another 6 months paid leave if I go sick again now (clutches at straws)

I can see both POV. I need to work but am not fully fit and if I'm honest not doing a great job even for the hours I'm there but I am doing my best and I need the job.

BoffinMum Mon 03-Mar-14 15:36:14

Removing all other considerations, what do you personally think about how your health is and how much ideally you should be doing?

Technical Mon 03-Mar-14 15:41:52

Thanks Boffin

I think I have a chronic illness which makes working difficult but not impossible. If the doctors decided I had to build up to f-t over a reasonable period of time I would have coped. 5 hours would mean I did something other than sleep outside of work.

I do recognise that I am not as "valuable" to my employer as a fully fit person would be - I am slower and probably will be prone to more sick days.

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Mon 03-Mar-14 15:44:06

I eventually lost my teaching job due a chronic illness as the school said they weren't able to accommodate a long term phased return.

Not sure that helps though.

BoffinMum Mon 03-Mar-14 15:45:19

I think the elephant in the room is that teaching is a demanding, physical job and you may no longer be suited to it. What other work might you be able to do?

Technical Mon 03-Mar-14 15:47:14

Ah, I'm not a teacher, just admin.

Unexpected Mon 03-Mar-14 16:33:51

It sounds as if you weren't actually fit to return to work but persuaded the consultant that you were, hence the very long phased return which he suggested. Given that you say you are not doing a great job in the hours you are back, the LA doctor is probably correct that you shouldn't be there at all at the moment.

Technical Mon 03-Mar-14 17:01:40

Yes, probably but what happens now?

BoffinMum Mon 03-Mar-14 17:37:21

You resign basically. Or you find something to do that you can manage. Or you officially go part time for the foreseeable future.

Technical Mon 03-Mar-14 17:40:34

Really? I get that that might be easiest but atm i am working and supporting myself. If i resign when i am signed fit for work where would that leave me?

WeekendsAreHappyDays Mon 03-Mar-14 17:41:27

Or you can take more sick leave - as you are entitled to - returning for a faster phased return when you are better placed to.

If they want you out because of your genuine illness let them manage you out through the sick process. You cannot help being ill.

WeekendsAreHappyDays Mon 03-Mar-14 17:42:32

Also if its an illness that has last more than a year you class as having a disability and they are requirred to make all reasonable adjustments.

SilverStars Mon 03-Mar-14 17:48:25

I think the occupational health dr has the final say over the 2 dr's. I guess the thing is they have allowed you to begin a phased return and you will have a certain amount of time of sick pay left or just your hours earnt. I guess if you had an operation and are due to fully recover then you should insist that you will recover and it is just a matter of time and keep seeing OH dr to get allowed to work more hours.

Technical Mon 03-Mar-14 17:57:05

So, atm i have a cert saying a should work 5 hours and OH saying I should do 3. Is neither if those an option?

shoom Mon 03-Mar-14 18:00:03

Don't resign. Continue as you are until HR suggest otherwise. Read up on the DDA and reasonable adjustments as suggested above. If HR or anyone else suggests changes to your role say you'll think about it, don't agree to anything they spring on you before taking time to consider things.

They can suggest changes your role and duties, or that you're not fit for work, or offer you a payoff to leave. If you're ill then you must consider how easy or otherwise it'll be to find another job. Look into the terms of your contract and read up on the sickness policy if you haven't memorised it already.

WeekendsAreHappyDays Mon 03-Mar-14 18:00:49

Are you in union if so you can access free legal advice -Id take it

TeamWill Mon 03-Mar-14 18:16:51

I have never know a phased return to last more than 6 weeks.

So you are currently coping well with working 5 hours a day and yet LA doctor thinks you can only work 3 hours confused

If after a year you are not back to full duties then I agree that they should assess you and consider redeployment to a more suitable role.

shoom Mon 03-Mar-14 18:23:59

I think that OH trumps your doctor, they could argue they don't want the risk of you becoming ill through working more hours than their expert says you are capable of. They'd knowingly be putting you at risk. They'll say OH understands your role more than your own doctor does. You need to read your contract and sickness policy though. Presumably they say 3 hours per day now with a timescale to increase it over the next 12 months.

Had anything been said officially about this return to work timescale not being possible, or have they indicated they'll allow the 12 month schedule to occur?

HermioneWeasley Mon 03-Mar-14 21:25:04

My rule of thumb on phased returns is that if it takes you more than 12 weeks to build up to normal hours then you've come back too soon. It sounds like your return was motivated by your sick pay rather than your health.

I suspect that your employers will put more weight on the OH report.

Oh, and your condition lasting more than 12 months does not automatically make it a disability (though it does make it quite likely).

Technical Mon 03-Mar-14 21:30:47

I do expect to make a (more or less) full recovery but it is likely that I will need at least one more op.

I do want to work, it's not just motivated by the need to be paid

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