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Signed fit for work... but work are ignoring me.(41 Posts)
Hi guys, this is a sort of complicated one.
7 weeks ago I had a nervous breakdown at work, I was under a lot of stress and I was having 10+ panic attacks a day... I went to see my doctor and he signed me off, so I told my boss the situation and he said "come in to work and finish off this press release and we'll discuss that tomorrow" so I went in to work and when I got there I was a mess, I ended up being told by senior staff I shouldn't be there and I explained my boss had asked me to come in, they said go home and look after yourself, so I did.
The sick note was for 2 weeks, I ended up going to the doctor again and he said I wasn't fit for work and he signed me off for another 3, then he signed me off for another month after that was over. During that time my employer had requested me attend a welfare meeting which I did, and then they requested my medical record, which I didn't give them access to as I ended up losing the letter.
I went back to the doctors 10 days ago and he said he thought I seemed so much better and I thought so, too... so I rang HR at work and explained I was well enough to come back and that I was going to be signed back on the next week, the woman from HR said no, don't do that, I'll speak with the director of your department and let you know what they say... she came back to me and said they'd requested a meeting with me before I requested my doctor make me fit for work, said she'd email me the same day, she didn't, another 2 days passed and she still hadn't emailed me, so I called her and it seemed she was getting annoyed with me reaching out but I was eager to get back to work... she came back to me after 4 days and said "Hi, they've said if you really want to come back, get your fit note and then send me a picture of it so we know when to expect you back."
I did just that, I told them last Thursday I'd be back on Monday, they ignored my message.
I turned up to work yesterday morning, and the director of my department looked up and saw me stood there and he looked shocked.
They sent me to one building then to another before finally sticking me in a meeting with the department director who plain and simply said
"Are you fit for work?"
I said yes, he said do you have your fit note, I said yes, I handed it to him, he said well you can see how this is a bit of a problem for us as we weren't expecting you back until the end of the month and there's NOT MUCH on your sick note, you've been off for a long time now, yes a very long time, are you better? Do you feel 100%?
"You're going to have to go home, it was my understanding you were only going to come in today to give us your sick notes so we could review them..."
That was NOT my understanding at all, I was told I could come back.
He then said, "ok well I'm gonna review your sick note and then I'll call you this afternoon or tomorrow and let you know what's going on"
I explained there's nothing on my sicknote other than to say that the end of my sick period was over and I was fit for work. No notes. Nothing. What did he have to examine???? He says he needed to assess if I was fit for work. What is he, a medical professional?
I went home, deflated and feeling defeated. He didn't call me. He hasn't called me today. I've messaged him and he's read it but hasn't replied to me. I asked for an update and I haven't had one.
I'm now declared fit for work, and having to wait at home unpaid, on edge, wondering what's happening and why nobody's contacted me.
I'm at the point now where I feel I should be seeking advice from a lawyer in Employment law, as first I was signed off sick because of the amount of pressure and work they were putting on me and the way they've handled it every day since has made me not only cry (at the welfare meeting) but also made me more stressed than I should have been being off sick as it was.
What should I do? I'm losing all hope.
I think the first thing you need to do is join a trade union. (They will advise you and ensure that your rights are protected.)Then write down everything you can remember about the conversations you have had with your employers.
Hope you manage to get things sorted out OP.
It would be good if you were in a trade union. Or you could phone the Citizens Advice Bureau. My understanding would be this. If your Doctor has signed you fit for work and you are available for work and you turned up and they sent you home they would have to pay you as you are available for work. Hope things get sorted out soon.
I'm surprised that you haven't consulted an employment lawyer earlier. The majority offer a free consultation (usually over the phone). Get on Google, find one you like the sound of and get a free consultation booked in asap. If you're not being paid (despite being fit to work) you need to get on this immediately. I'd also start drafting a formal grievance (usually a pre-requisite if decide to go down the tribunal route) as this may be what is needed to get your employer to take your situation more seriously. Personally I'd turn up to work every day and let them send me home. It's all evidence that you are fit to work and should be paid!
As an aside, you should never have gone into work after your doctor signed you off, no matter what your boss said. Telling you to come into work is a pretty serious f***-up by your boss. Please get legal advice - and give some thought to what outcome you want (i.e. just go back to work or get paid off and leave etc)
You need legal advice they are breaching your contract by in effect suspending you without pay.
They're gunning for you, you need to get a shit hit employment lawyer on the case asap!
Get everything in writing, don't communicate at all with them by phone.
With his instruction for you to go home being verbal I'd be very concerned they'll later deny that's what happened. They could say you failed to turn up/stay.
I'd have said okay "I'm here for work, I'm certified medically fit for work so if you want me to leave the premises can you just put the reasons in an email to me and copy in HR. I'll sit at my desk just now until it arrives"
Although joining a union would be ideal, there's a clue on your profession in your OP. And there isn't a PR company in the U.K. that will recognise a union. If you've been there two years then seek legal advice. If you would like to PM me more details about the company then I will see if I can be more useful. (I've been around the PR block several times!). Good luck
Hey Pebbles ^ I don't work in PR, I work in Media but I had to write a press release that day as content writing is part of my role as I work in Marketing.
I'm very concerned though that this whole thing is making my mental health so much worse.
You turned up to work and went to a meeting? That means you're back at work and getting paid.
Turn up every day. You need it in writing that they don't want you to work.
You need to consult with a HR Specialist. There are numerous independent companies. Alternatively you need to consult with an Employment Lawyer. Immediately. Make the call first thing tomorrow. Keep full notes of dates and times of conversations. Keep all future correspondence via email only.
Speak to ACAS if you're not it in a union x
Honestly I didn't know WHAT to do, my boyfriend is a solicitor and works with trusts so couldn't advise me any further than knowing what was going on wasn't right, so he told me to seek help - and I thought I was just being pushy with them, at the same time I didn't think it right that they could dictate to me whether or not I should go to my doctor and ask him to reassess me, that surely should have been my choice and mine alone.
Thanks for the ACAS recommendation ^ I'll call them tomorrow as they're closed right now.
I should add I told the girl from HR what happened in the meeting with the director and she said, "I'm not sure what's gone on there" and was as baffled as I was.
You have presented as fit for work they can't not pay you if they choose to send you home.
I would suggest you get back on to HR tomorrow for an update otherwise you will consider raising a grievance at how this is being managed and the potential impact it could have on your recovery
If you can't afford a lawyer and you're not a union member, check your house insurance. If you have legal cover (usually an optional add-on) it may cover employment disputes. I successfully used my insurance to get legal representation for a tribunal.
The sick notes by the GP are recommendations only, not mandatory.
It sounds like you've been treated badly, OP. Adding a lot of stress to a fragile situation.
If they were concerned about you coming straight back to full time all they need to do is work out a staged return to work where you both work together collaboratively to manage it.
And a message to department director:
Way to go on the supporting mental health in the workplace you tit.
If it was me managing you OP, I wouldn't view it as just being about you, I'd want to know what was going wrong that had led to it, so it wasn't a likely outcome for others as well. What an utter tit the man/woman is. You should have nothing but their full support.
What type of media? Group or independent? Agency side or brand side?
I would suggest to contact NABS http://nabs.org.uk/
When they asked you to go for a medical assessment did they send you to an accredited doctor and if they did a medical report did you see it and approve it before it went to your employers? How long have you been with the company.
If you want to pm me I might be able to give you more advice.
When you say 'at home, unpaid', have you been getting sick pay?
How long have you worked there?
I was also going to recommend NABs. It's not a kind industry when you are unwell and the pressure will. It help. However, they have to be legal and if you are turning up to work then you are working. I would suggest you only speak to HR for the moment and, if they want you to meet your boss, insist that they join the meeting. Take notes and/or ask to record the meeting.
There is no such thing as the need for a fit to work note. I'm a GP and I know the rules - check the DWP website.
Answers to questions above:
I have been getting sick pay, however, it was all taken off me by my employer without warning as they claimed I was overpaid my final week before the threshold as they "assumed I'd be in work and weren't" which defies the purpose of having a sign in system. Checked my payslips and they were wrong and I wasn't overpaid, I was deducted as I should have been for the final week I worked, so not only that, but they took a full £400 of sick pay off me and still refuse to listen to me when I try and raise the issue.
I've worked at this company for 14 months, I had one days holiday last year for my brothers graduation and that's it, this year I've had no days off holiday, as I applied for it and was declined so with 4 months of the year left, I still have 23 days holiday to use up, despite having to give a couple months notice if I want 5 days off.
It's surprising that they're treating me like this because the people I work for also own a law firm who write out our contracts etc.
They didn't ask me to seek medical advice, I went to my own doctors on my own terms. They requested to see my medical record but I didn't give them permission because it meant sending them a letter and with my anxiety I just couldn't get out to post it.
Hey @keeponworking unfortunately when other people have left under similar circumstances, they branded them as weak and not able to handle the workload, however, I'm the longest serving member of my department and have been there since they were a startup - I've told them about my anxiety and how it gets bad if I'm put under extreme pressure which made them push me more. It felt like they wanted to see me fail, I may seem like I just FEEL that way, but my boss has made several comments like "I only do it to piss you off." Many times.
They aren't nice people, and people have told me to just leave and work somewhere else but they've made me feel so shit that my career confidence has been slashed and I feel useless.
The reason it's taken me this long to realise this was a real problem is because this is my first proper full-time job that I've had in the Media industry and I assumed everywhere was the same and that's why so many people must be miserable in their jobs.
Can I also say I no longer have a desk or anywhere to sit? That was made wuite clear when I was like where's my desk and they'd given it to a graphic designer SO THERES NOWHERE FOR ME TO SIT, THERES NO MORE TABLES AND NO SPACE FOR ANY MORE. It's not like they've even kept my desk that had all of my stuff in it, for me to return to. Because it's gone.
Here are messages between me and my manager who still asks me to email him my progress while I've been sent home. Total disregard to the fact I've got a sick note. Actually asking me to write the press release and follow it through until completion. I thought ok fine, so I was still under pressure to get it done... does anyone think I'm overreacting with this? He shouldn't have done that right?
You've been there only 14 months - sounds like they've fired you
You are going to have pretty much no comeback.