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Issue with Employer over SSP / MA(5 Posts)
Im trying to help my Sister who is having a few problems with her Employer at the moment, but having trouble finding the info I need so was hoping some lovely person on here may be able to assist!
I will try keep it as short as possible but honestly its a long story:
My sister works in the community as a Carer. In June last year she lost her little boy at 27 weeks pregnant - his heartbeat couldnt be found during a scan and she gave birth a few days later.
At the time my Sister was on Sick Leave due to complications with the pregnancy and the morning after my nephew was born I spoke with her Employer to inform them of what had happened as she was to be put straight onto Maternity Leave.
Come round to this year and my Sister is currently now 30 weeks pregnant - she has again been on Sick Leave, due to pregnancy complications for the last almost six weeks i think. (She loves her job, doesnt want to be stuck at home, but of course the safety of the baby is the most important thing at the moment.)
When she was first put on sick it was for a week, which she informed the company of, then the Doctor said another two weeks, again informed them. I took the Doctors notes into work for her at that point as she wasnt up to doing much - to be pretty honest she was terrified of going into the Office anyway as the Manager there hasnt been particularly nice to her previously - had told other Carers about her son being stillborn and warned them not to ask my Sister about it in case it upset her, so cue a lot of talking between themselves until one colleague told her what had been said etc as well as advising maybe a termination would be best this time when she advised them she was pregnant.
Anyways, when I dropped the notes off I was asked how she was doing etc, and did advise she would be away until the Doctor saw fit to let her back but would keep them updated.
Since then they have called/texted my Sister numerous times a week trying to find out what is going on - she hasnt answered every time but when she has shes kept it simple 'baby is okay at the moment, but im taking Doctors orders until told otherwise'.
Now it has been a really hard time for her, still is, and I took her up to the Office last week to hand in the most recent Doctors notes. One Supervisor? took her in the back room to speak and asked her what was wrong etc, spoke about when she wants to start maternity leave - theyre saying mid-August. Thats fine.
Comes to last week, payday. My sister has received what looks to be around 8 days sick pay - thats it.
When emailed, the Office have come back eventually and said that as the notes werent handed in until the 29th they wont be processed until next month.
Also asked about holiday pay and they have stated that she has 11 hours of holiday to take.
My sister replied to ask how the holidays were worked out - she was told she didnt get any last year -, and why she wasnt advised pay would be held if they didnt physically have the docs notes - not been advised they needed them straight away, just to keep them updated on what was happening which we did.
The Main Manager has now replied stating holiday info, that she would get SMP this time rather than the MA like last time - and added that she didnt accrue any holidays during her last maternity pay as ' you didnt earn enough for the company to pay you Mat Pay there would be no holiday accrued during this period'
I thought holidays were still accrued during Maternity Leave whether you received SMP or MA - am I wrong here?
They have also attached an Employee handbook, something which my sister has not had before - but not her 'Individual Statement of Main Terms of Employment' which is referred to in the handbook many times. She has not idea what this is either.
My sister is ready to call it a day and forget about it all - she has enough going on - however I dont think she should. What they are saying does not seem correct, and given that last time when she gave birth early I myself had to find out and talk them through correct procedure Im not sure they have done it right this time either, but Im stuck as to how to now advise my sister.
So sorry for the long post!
Oh and to add to this I last year I gave the Manager my contact number for any info they required relating to starting her ML after my nephew was stillborn - i was handling everything whilst my sister stayed in hospital - Ive since found out they have kept my contact number as someone else from the office used it to contact me last week to ask what was wrong with her. Surely they shouldnt still have my personal contact number or be using it for any reason now?
Thank you if you managed to stay to the end of this!
Any help/advise would truly be appreciated as I want to make sure this is handled properly.
Dealing with the easy bits...
If your number has been supplied as a contact number, then unless you specifically told them it could only be used for a limited period of time, it isn't unreasonable that they have kept the number and rung you, especially since you clearly are still dealing with your sisters relationships with them. If you don't want them to retain it or contact you then you need to say so.
The annual leave is more difficult. You are correct - it does accrue regardless. But it is also very likely that she has lost last years leave because she didn't take it. Annual leave entitlement is "use it or lose it" and it is not the employers responsibility to tell you that. And there is no provision for it to be paid - you have to take it unless you are leaving a job, when slightly different rules apply. You have a right to holidays, but the employer is not obliged to tell you that you must take holiday - that's down to you. And the employer will either have a holiday year in which you can take your annual allowance, or the year is calculated from the anniversary of your start date. Most commonly it is either the calendar year or the financial year. In any case, it is likely that holidays from last year are now lost.
As for the pay issue, I'm afraid that they are being rather literal, but they haven't done anything wrong. If they are not in possession of a fit note, then technically they have no knowledge of the fact that you are too sick to work. Even if you have previously been off sick. You are expected to return to work when your fit note expires unless you hand in another one. So if the fit note wasn't handed in on time, then then they are not obliged to pay you as you are technically AWOL. And they aren't required to run an additional payroll for someone - they can say that it has missed processing deadlines and will be adjusted for the next pay period.
Thank you very much for your reply,
Its just so frustrating - shes trusted them with what they've told her and I wish she'd told me at the time.
She went back to work in March (Holiday period April-March) - and the email I have from the Manager specifically states she has no holidays accrued for her maternity leave period due to receiving MA not SMP from them, which of course is untrue but she believed them as she trusted they knew best.
Same with the Sick Pay - specifically says that 'text messages and emails are not an acceptable method of notification....should be made to the on-call number', which is who she kept informed. They have called so many times due to being worried about her apparently, but not worried enough to advise that she wouldnt get paid unless they physically had the notes.
I will tell them to remove my number, it was given to one person last June, specifically to handle the issue with Maternity Leave after my nephew was born - in case they required birth/death certificate.
Anyway thank you for your reply, its much appreciated - was going round in circles trying to put it in order.
OK. That information slightly changes what I would advise - but this comes with the health warning that taking it further may be detrimental to her job. Depends whether she thinks it's worth it.
If she has an email then that would constitute evidence that she was prevented from taking her leave entitlement. That would make the refusal of leave actionable and she can take legal action on that matter if the employer refuses it.
But I am sorry, I still have to say that she is technically at fault over the sick pay. It doesn't matter who she spoke to or, in fact, how she contacted them - although an employee must adhere to policy - the fact is that you must provide a fit note for an pay period. Hers was late, so her pay will be late. That's reasonable. Some employers are more flexible. Some are sometimes flexible. But it isn't her employers job to tell her that she needs a fit note to cover periods of sickness after seven days. I get that they are being finickity, and possibly not the worlds best employer. But it was her responsibility, so paying her late is within reasonable bounds.
Thank you for your advice, it really is appreciated.
Yes, definitely being finickity - they need to check their handbook themselves as even the pay period stated in the email doesnt match the handbook! If she goes by handbook she handed the notes in with a day to spare until the end of the pay period, so it just gets silly.
Im going to cover her anything she needs until the end of the month anyway and concentrate on trying to get her holidays sorted for last and this year.
I do hope she learns to not be quite so trusting and possibly looks into other employment choices when it is time to return from ML - she is great at her job and deserves to work for a company that values this - of course I may be just a tad biased!
Again, thank you for your advice, it has been really helpful to not be inside my own head, winding myself up! and hear from someone else.