Sickness absence and new jobs

(13 Posts)
PoesyCherish Wed 14-Nov-18 19:31:49

My sickness record is through the roof due to my disability and work refusing to put in reasonable adjustments. I'm in the process of applying for jobs but worried I won't get anywhere because of my sickness absence.

I had one period off of 2 days where I had an operation and then day 2 was recovering from the anaesthetic. I've also had one day off due to d&v. The rest of the time has been due to my physical disability and work not making any reasonable adjustments.

The most recent time off, I was off for 2 weeks, went back for a day and ended up in so much again that my GP signed me off and said i was fit for work if they put in the reasonable adjustments I'd asked for.

I don't know exactly how long I've been off for (it all blurs into one) but it must be around 2/3 months now (yes I know there's a big difference between the two). Work aren't putting in the adjustments hence me looking for another job.

I know typically employers ask after they've offered you the job. So I'd have to actually get offered a job first before this becomes an issue but I'm trying to think ahead. Will this be an issue from a future employers perspective?

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itisitis Wed 14-Nov-18 19:37:45

I had a bad sickness record as I broke my neck so was off for a significant time. Then I was off with stress as my medication prescribed for my recovery made me a bit loopy. When applying for jobs, I did wonder the same like you. At interview stage, I chose to disclose at the end bit - where they ask if you have any questions - that I had a bad sickness record and the reasons behind it. That gave them the opportunity to either ask questions, or use it in their decision making as to appoint. I got the 3rd job I went for, and the reasons I didn't get the other two was due to lack of experience, not because of my sickness. They all fed back that it was nice to be upfront.

Effic Wed 14-Nov-18 19:43:51

I agree with PP and it depends what reasonable adjustments you have asked for. I have had an prospective employee voluntarily disclose poor attendance at interview exactly as the PP described. She explained what had caused it, what reasonable adjustments she had asked for (& not got) and why they would make a difference. What she said made perfect sense to me (in fact it made me think her previous employers were arses), she was the best candidate for the job so she got it. Had I just read the attendance record cold, I’m not sure she would have.

PoesyCherish Wed 14-Nov-18 20:25:19

The reasonable adjustments as recommended by access to work are:
ergonomic keyboard
Ergonomic mouse
laptop stand to raise the laptop up to the same level as the monitor for dual monitor use (a necessity in my current role due to the sheer amount of computer programmes / documents we use at an given point)
Height adjustable desk
Writing slope
More supportive chair

Tbh though I'd have been happy if they just bought the keyboard and mouse but they won't even do that.

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itisitis Wed 14-Nov-18 20:49:40

I do think if you mentioned all of that at interview they would be understanding. To not buy a mouse and keyboard is just tight. I can see why you want out!

Effic Thu 15-Nov-18 00:01:43

Good grief - that’s tinsy tiny easily sorted adjustments. If you told me that at interview and explained how these would decrease your absence then I would conclude that your current employers were arses as I suspected and, if you were the best candidate for the job, you’d get it.

PoesyCherish Thu 15-Nov-18 10:09:20

@Effic would you really think that even though I've been off since September?

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maxelly Thu 15-Nov-18 15:25:54

At my workplace, we never ask about disabilities or sickness absence at interview, as we purely select candidates on the basis of merit. So if I were you I wouldn't bring it up unless they ask.

But your level of sickness absence would be flagged up through the reference and/or OH form at pre-employment checks stage - and would probably mean we wanted you to meet with our OH department so we could understand more about the nature of your disability and the reason you'd had so much absence in your past role. I have to say that your story would raise a few eyebrows (not because you wouldn't be believed but because it seems so ridiculous that your employer would rather have you sat at home off sick and paying you SSP to providing simple, cheap adjustments like a keyboard and chair). But if OH assured us that if we provided XYZ adjustments you would be able to attend work reliably, and if we were able to put those adjustments in place (and we certainly wouldn't be quibbling over small costs like the ones you describe) we would certainly proceed to offer you the job (and would want to keep a close eye on how you cope through the probation period). Anything else would be illegal discrimination in my book.

Hope this reassures you!

PoesyCherish Thu 15-Nov-18 15:57:19

Thanks @maxelly. Do you think it would be less of an issue if I were applying for completely different roles? The sorts of roles I've applied for I would say have maybe 10 hours of computer work per week whereas the issues I've been experiencing have arisen due to the work being 36+ hours of computer work per week if that makes sense?

And yes I quite agree it's ridiculous they'd rather me be on SSP for weeks / months rather than just buy the equipment which in the long run costs much less!

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maxelly Thu 15-Nov-18 16:21:33

Yes possibly that would help too. I think roles which have variety are good if a particular type of work or posture causes you issues - in that kind of role it might be possible with some flexibility to reduce the type of work which is problematic even further as well which is good.

As a recruiter/manager I am always really reassured by people who have a good understanding of their condition and can tell me what they do to manage it - which can include deliberately choosing not to work long hours or far away from home or choosing a role which minimises the particular thing which causes them issues. Of course it's not essential as some people's conditions are much more variable or newly diagnosed so they don't know these things but I think you could tell a good 'story' about how you can be confident your sickness absence in a new role will be much lower than it is currently, with the right support from an employer. Good luck!

Ollivander84 Thu 15-Nov-18 16:26:57

I've had way more sickness than that (autoimmune neutropenia means I'm immunosuppressed plus I had cauda equina and a spinal op). AND I got dismissed from my last job of a decade under "performance" yeah right, sickness more like

I got a new job 8 weeks after leaving the previous one and have now been there nearly a year. I was completely honest at interview (in for a penny and all that) and was in there nearly an hour. They've just increased my contract to the biggest one they offer smile

HirooOnoda Thu 15-Nov-18 18:04:12

Taking your own personal circumstances out of the equation @PoesyCherish I think it’s quite clear that an employer would rather appoint someone with a good attendance record as opposed to someone who routinely won’t be in when required to be. How they go about this, in terms of meeting the stipulations outlined in employment and discrimination law will however vary. I would much rather appoint reliable members of staff who can be relied upon to be present when the role requires than someone who can be relied upon not to be there, i think that’s just common sense.

In relation to you, I would try and downplay any sickness until you are in post when you will be far better protected from any discrimination. They won’t like you for taking this approach however they won’t have the chance to not appoint you on this basis at least. Employers, irrespective of what they are legally bound by, can find reasons to not employ anyone they wish at interview, they would likely get a little creative at interview but this isn’t unlikely to happen, don’t be naive. They are unlikely to seek a detailed sickness record in advance of offering you a position with them (excluding seeking references) so I wouldn’t worry too much.

PoesyCherish Thu 15-Nov-18 21:40:34

I would much rather appoint reliable members of staff who can be relied upon to be present when the role requires than someone who can be relied upon not to be there, i think that’s just common sense

I get what you're saying but I think you're making an unfair assumption. Fwiw I am a reliable staff member and the only reason I'm not in now is because my GP signed me off after repeated attempts by myself and several professionals to get reasonable adjustments put in place. I've never had such a lengthy period of time off before.

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