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(24 Posts)
RonaldMcDonald Wed 03-Dec-14 18:44:08

There is a personality clash where I work
Both feel that the other is dire - neither are - they are just high maintenance to a larger extent

One <m> has raised a grievance and gone off sick <on full pay> the other <f> is completely happy he isn't there
The grievance wasn't upheld nor was it appealed
The sick one wants her to attend mediation
The non sick one says no thanks

The sick one won't return to work unless the other one goes to mediation

We are fed up with it but don't know what to do.
We can't compel her to go to mediation although we have strongly encouraged her to
We need the other to return to work or to start to consider our options.
He has been with us for 4 yrs but has now been off for 5 mths

Help please

Musicaltheatremum Wed 03-Dec-14 19:29:48

Have you contacted ACAS for advice? I found them very helpful as an employer. If some one has been off sick for 5 months I would be sending her for an occupational health assessment. Patients tell their GPs all sorts of things to get signed off. I have experienced this as an employer and a GP. I think getting them to sit round a table to mediate is a good idea. What is the one who is working scared of?

maggiethemagpie Wed 03-Dec-14 20:39:57

Well the first rule of mediation is that it is voluntary for both parties. I'd be looking at the reasons the one who doesn't want mediation has given. Is it because they don't think it will work? Are they being deliberately awkward. Is it because the other one won't come back if they refuse to go?

KarenHillavoidJimmyswarehouse Wed 03-Dec-14 20:58:50

Are you the employer?

To be honest, if someone goes off sick for 5 months because of a clash of personalities (OP doesn't indicate bullying or discrimination) then says they won't be back until xyz happens I'd be waving them off cheerily.

RonaldMcDonald Wed 03-Dec-14 23:07:49

I am unfortunately the line manager
HR are literally washing their hands off it and have dumped it back on my desk. They seem happy to leave it until his sick pay is exhausted.

She doesn't want to go to mediation because she thinks it is a waste of time and that he will bang a drum during it
He did claim he was being bullied but by someone else entirely - the grievance wasn't upheld <but I guess that doesn't stop him feeling bullied>
He feels this bullying has affected other relationships during work
The woman he works with thinks it is a sideshow and cba

I need them both working as we are a small department although part of a much larger picture.
HR have said ball is in his court....I need him back

RonaldMcDonald Wed 03-Dec-14 23:14:56

We also can't get a temp to cover in as it is in a govt facility and they would need to be cleared etc

Thanks for all your help

flowery Wed 03-Dec-14 23:56:29

What does HR dumping it "back" on your desk mean? Have you proposed a course of action they won't support?

RonaldMcDonald Thu 04-Dec-14 00:12:43


They have suggested that I try to talk her round to mediation and then if that doesn't work to put pressure on her their examples are to say we are very disappointed etc that her not attending is preventing us from functioning
I am unhappy to do that
I have asked that thy do this - they say it would be more effective from me as their function is HO based

If he won't come back without mediation and she won't mediate....what happens?

flowery Thu 04-Dec-14 06:46:40

They have suggested that I try to talk her round to mediation and then if that doesn't work to put pressure on her their examples are to say we are very disappointed etc that her not attending is preventing us from functioning

Sounds pretty reasonable advice to me. Why are you "unhappy to do that"? I would have expected you to have done that, say, 4.5 months ago tbh.

What about the person off sick? Presumably you've involved occupational health or requested a report from his doctor by now. Is it stress he is off with and has the doctor stated that he will not be fit to return without mediation?

RonaldMcDonald Thu 04-Dec-14 12:02:23

I don't really want to pressure someone into something that is supposed to be voluntary and that they have said clearly that they don't want to do.
I have been clear about the benefits to both parties and the insights to be gained.
I am not going to say I'm disappointed in her because that doesn't feel right - voluntary means just that to me.

I am frustrated that we are in this situation but I still feel that I am confused by what is really going on.
It feels like he has a global unhappiness. He has had a number of problems and I worry that we never really resolve them to his satisfaction. That he says he accepts findings and that we have moved on but we never really have iyswim. Whilst he has accepted the results of his grievance now he requires mediation - mediation is a relatively new requirement but one we are happy to go with

She simply won't get involved. HR called her twice and she very pleasantly turned them down. She is an absolute brick wall and feels that this is a waste of time.

We ask OH to become involved at 4 mths and they have been unable to arrange a meeting with him so far. His GP has said <apparently> that there will have to be big difference made before signing him fit to return to work. We only have this anecdotally. We wrote to him for permission to contact his GP at 4 mths...he has been unable to provide that and HR are resending these documents with a time frame and ref to our contract

Seems a bit bleak...sorry if I have been utterly ineffectual flowery

flowery Thu 04-Dec-14 12:23:13

Well of course she's being a brick wall rather than cooperative - that way she doesn't have to work with him. She can see what a difficult position her refusal is putting you and the organisation in, but still won't at least give it a go? If it's a waste of time it's a waste of time, and yes both parties need to consent and want to make it work for it to be effective, but in this situation I wouldn't be at all impressed by a flat refusal to even give it a try.

Why has he been "unable" to give permission to contact his GP?

What do you actually want to do? That's not really clear from your posts.

slug Thu 04-Dec-14 13:01:08

I once worked with a person whose modus operandi was to bring out grievances against his colleagues then go on sick leave when they were found to be unsubstantiated. It was his way of being an abusive bully. He would demand mediation then use it as a a forum to further bully the poor colleague.

Eventually his victims stopped agreeing to mediation. He went on long term sick leave then negotiated an early retirement.

RonaldMcDonald Thu 04-Dec-14 13:20:43

Slug that is an interesting point. Sounds terrible.

she has said that she isn't going to give him a further forum. she wasn't involved in his grievance, she doesn't feel it appropriate that she is now pulled into the process
she thinks this will be a process he will use to raise further issues and try to rope her into them. she doesn't want the stress or hassle. it has seemed clear that she feels these are his issues and that he must deal with them

we have assured her that the mediator will be very experienced and that that won't happen but that it will help
I've thought that it has been interesting speaking with her about it and seeing how completely dead against it she is. she is usually pretty easy going. I've wondered if it is indicative of how she treats him perhaps...minimising his views? dunno

I have discussed with HR his being moved to a different area but it would involve quite a bit of travel - the same goes for her
I just want him back to work as we are a small but v specialised team and I can't get a temp. <sorry v self serving>
I feel completely floored by it as usually people come around. we seem to be deadlocked
He hasn't been able to attend meetings or allow us to speak with the GP as he has had to seek legal advice and has been to anxious to do so.

flowery Thu 04-Dec-14 13:41:57

He hasn't been able to attend meetings or allow us to speak with the GP as he has had to seek legal advice and has been to anxious to do so.

That's the biggest load of nonsense I've ever heard. He is "unable" to allow you to speak to his GP because he is "too anxious" to take legal advice? Is he still on full pay? Even in such a ridiculously generous sick pay scheme presumably there is a condition on it that members of staff must cooperate with OH/medical investigations? Surely?!

Sounds to me as though both your members of staff are taking you for a ride and milking the system where you work for all its worth tbh.

SolomanDaisy Thu 04-Dec-14 14:01:47

I'd place bets that his condition will improve enough for him to return to work when he goes down to half pay next month. I've seen that happen a few times. I'm confused about why he wants this mediation though. If he went off sick due to a grievance against another member of staff, then why is he now asking for mediation with this woman?

RonaldMcDonald Thu 04-Dec-14 16:32:02

Possibly we are being taken for a ride but tbf I am a very small cog in a much bigger system
There seems to be nothing to be done as HR is rolling v slowly and the other two seem pretty entrenched
I just hoped there was a better idea perhaps or some key to unlocking this


flowery Thu 04-Dec-14 17:44:59

What are HR supposed to be doing that they are being slow about?

flowery Thu 04-Dec-14 18:16:25

I don't really understand why you think there's nothing to be done? You don't want to put pressure on the person refusing to even attempt mediation. That's something that could be done. You certainly don't have to accept your other team members assertion that he is not "able" to give consent to contact with his GP because he is too anxious. Have you actually checked the terms of the sick pay scheme to find out whether failure to cooperate with medical investigations can result in withdrawal of sick pay.

There's not a magic solution, if that's what you were hoping for, but on the other hand no one needs to just put up with this behaviour from both employees for months.

InfinitySeven Thu 04-Dec-14 18:22:10

I wouldn't put pressure on the person refusing mediation.

I would tell them that the company is disappointed that they are not willing to try and find a solution, because that is entirely true.

They are running all over you. I get that its uncomfortable, and it's not a conversation that anyone wants to have, but you need the respect of your team, and you need your team back at work and not taking the piss like this.

KarenHillavoidJimmyswarehouse Thu 04-Dec-14 18:41:44

I wouldn't put pressure on the person refusing mediation

I would tell them that the company is disappointed that they are not willing to try and find a solution, because that is entirely true

I agree but I think from the information provided by the OP that the mediation-refuser thinks the one off sick is being dramatic and doesn't want to be drawn in. I have a lot of sympathy for that point of view.

RonaldMcDonald Thu 04-Dec-14 22:54:22

I have left the sick pay OH GP report stuff with HR as this is their remit <from their pov thank goodness>
I am a bit stuck, well completely stuck.

Thanks for the help and for the advice. I'm sorry if I am being ineffectual. I am not trying to be.
I raised the mediation thing again with her today and she was very clear that unless it was mandatory she wouldn't be there. Not her circus/ I said maybe she'd gain insight or maybe she's see how what had been going on coud have impacted their working relationship give them a chance to explore. She said no and that he's be back when the sick pay ran out.
I walked away

flowery Fri 05-Dec-14 00:47:40

I have left the sick pay OH GP report stuff with HR as this is their remit

Hmm. Well, writing letters to GPs is probably their remit. Consulting Occupational Health is probably their remit. Checking terms and conditions on sick pay is their remit. But making management decisions about what action to take in respect of your staff is not their remit.

If you want to force the issue about OH/GP, you need to ask them to confirm whether there are any terms and conditions attached to sick pay ( you can probably find the details yourself anyway), and if there is a condition saying that sick pay is conditional upon cooperation with medical investigations, ask them to draft you a letter to him along those lines.

HR don't sound full of get up and go and initiative to solve the problem, I agree, but that initiative and drive should come from you really more than anyone anyway. If they are getting a message from you of reluctance to push anything, they will go along with that, with the easy option of just letting things play out.

If you speak to someone in HR and say you want to (for example) withdraw sick pay from the man, force the issue more with the woman, or something, there are any number of letters that could be written and pressure put on.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Fri 05-Dec-14 01:06:00

Mediation only works where both parties are fully on board so if you've tried and the other person is adamant they don't want to them pushing it is an exercise in futility.

However, that person isn't your problem. She is in work and working. Your problem is the person on the sick and full pay. Why are you all fannying about pandering to the whims of this person who refuses to engage unless he can have mediation with someone else? Why is he calling the shots?

Get his fit notes out, get your sick policy out and get on to HR about a contact at Occupational Health so you can arrange a meeting and stop being so wet about it.

The mediation is a total red herring. Is he claiming work related stress? Even if he is then the mediation is still probably irrelevant when his grievance was with someone else.

You are getting sick/fit notes from his GP aren't you?

SolomanDaisy Fri 05-Dec-14 08:07:00

If he is refusing to let you talk to his GP, the standard things would be to insist he is assessed by an alternative doctor through occ health. Has that been done? Frankly I don't blame the other person for refusing mediation in these circumstances and I think you're focusing on that rather than on the more difficult issue of dealing with the person off sick.

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