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Mental Health & Work - advice pls

(8 Posts)
ApplePenPineapplePen Tue 30-Apr-19 16:46:54

I work for a small (cash-strapped) professional services company. I experienced panic attacks for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I went to my GP and was signed off work for a few days immediately prior to a planned holiday. Post the holiday I felt less stressed but I still wasnt able to cope - panic attacks and crying, inability to concentrate, although not as bad as it was. The GP was prepared to sign me off completely but that seemed the wrong thing to do. I was worried it would leave client (and firm) in the lurch plus more importantly make it harder for me to get back to work. So I suggested I continue with the client project that is more in my comfort zone and the firm assign my other (new) project to a colleague. Thus minimising client impact and temporarily reducing my workload and stress. This was been accepted as a workable solution by both client and my firm.

However....2 days into "reduced hours"...

my line manager told me today that their insurance will only pay out if I am signed off sick completely. It is better for them if it is black and white - fit for work and working the usual 40+ high stress hours, or not fit and signed off completely. He suggested I change my work contract to part-time hours but I said I wasn't in favour of that. I am reducing hours temporarily on medical advice because I am unwell not because I want to work part-time. I don't need work stress to be replaced by financial stress. He asked how long until I would be better. I guessed 1 month would be sufficient? I go back to GP later this week and I could do with guidance as to my best options. I am keen to work, I did a good job the last 2 days, slower than normal, 15 hours rather than the usual 19 or so, and on my easier projects, but solid work. No panic attacks in 3 days plus a weekend. Close to tears on occasion yesterday but not sobbing at my desk as I was before. Today less emotional again, til i spoke to my manager!! I am optimistic about my recovery, but I need a bit of breathing space.

Any advice? How do companies manage phased return etc with their insurance? Do the hours I don't work just need to be counted as sick leave? Am I really better being fully signed off? Is it unrealistic to think I can crack this in a month?

OP’s posts: |
flowery Tue 30-Apr-19 19:29:52

I'm a bit confused as to why their insurers need to be involved at all?

As a general thing, companies manage phased returns financially by either paying the individual for the reduced hours they are working while they are phasing in, or by 'topping up' to full pay at the employer's cost if they want to, either on a discretionary basis or because they have an occupational sick pay scheme which provides for that. Are they incurring any additional costs as a result of your reduced hours - are they having to pay someone else more or something?

Do you mean they have a sick pay scheme whereby they pay full pay to someone off sick and claim for that on the insurance?

Your GP should provide you with a fit note saying what work you are fit to do, ie what level of reduced hours/adjusted duties. Your employer can either choose to allow you to do the reduced hours/adjusted duties, or they can say no and you'll need to be off sick until you are fully fit to return.

ApplePenPineapplePen Tue 30-Apr-19 19:46:24

Yes they would pay full pay to me for up to 13 weeks if I were signed off under their insurance.

OP’s posts: |
flowery Tue 30-Apr-19 19:54:16

Well that's a pretty generous sick pay scheme for a small business so that's good.

If you continue to work reduced hours and get paid in full, is your employer losing anything directly financially - are they paying someone else to cover or something? They're not obliged to pay you for hours you're not working, obviously, but if it's definitely temporary and it's not actually costing them anything it's worth making a case for them to do that, at least for a limited defined period, on the basis that isn't it better to have you at work part time than not at all.

ApplePenPineapplePen Tue 30-Apr-19 19:55:07

The cost is the reduction in available client billable hours. Thanks for replying.

OP’s posts: |
ApplePenPineapplePen Tue 30-Apr-19 20:01:59

I suppose I had thought that if I were temporarily working reduced hours for a medical reason then essentially I would be on sick leave for the remaining hours. There is no change to the payroll because the person coming on board to cover for me is already a permanent employee who had capacity.

OP’s posts: |
flowery Tue 30-Apr-19 21:55:25

Ok well the terms of their sick pay insurance are obviously that it pays out in the event of sickness absence, but doesn’t pay out to cover topping up reduced hours worked for medical reasons to full pay. That isn’t unreasonable or surprising.

As I say, your employer can cover the difference if they want to, but that’s entirely up to them.

ApplePenPineapplePen Tue 30-Apr-19 22:21:38

Thanks.

OP’s posts: |

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