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Medical Records requested even though DP has returned to work?

(15 Posts)
mum2taylor Fri 11-Jul-08 09:34:35

My dp has just returned to work after a bout of absence due to severe back pain. He has had a couple of bouts of absence due to this same problem. His employers have requested access to his medical records as they say they need to access them to determine the outcome of a disciplinary hearing but he has now returned to work. I thought they were only supposed to request his medical records if he was still absent? Any help would be greatly appreciated (flowery? grin)

Roskva Fri 11-Jul-08 11:05:14

I would suggest your dh contacts your local CAB for advice. If his employer is requesting access to his medical records for genuine reasons, then he may want to consent to the request; if not, then he may not want to consent. If he discusses the issue with someone who can advise him properly, then he can make an informed decisions.

In any event, if the employer is starting disciplinary proceedings, they have to notify your dh in writing what his alleged offence is, the time and place of the disciplinary meeting, and his right to be accompanied by a work colleague or union rep.

hth

mum2taylor Fri 11-Jul-08 11:18:01

Thanks for that Roskva, but he has already had a disciplinary hearing. His boss and one manager came to the house whilst he was off sick supposedly for the purpose of carrying out a disciplinary hearing but my DP had to instigate the conversation as they sat there just asking how he was. The manager apparently had no clue that that was why they were there and thought they were just there to see if they could help him back to work. They are now requesting his records after this hearing has taken place so it all seems rather strange tbh. He has still not been notified of the outcome of the disciplinary and it is all still ongoing.

mum2taylor Fri 11-Jul-08 11:50:26

bump sad

juneybean Fri 11-Jul-08 12:06:41

I could be wrong but I thought that any disciplinary proceedings had to wait until the incapacitated member of staff had returned to work.

They should not have visited him whilst off!!

*waits for Flowery*

Roskva Fri 11-Jul-08 12:54:36

I second juneybean on that one - an employer cannot hold a disciplinary meeting with an employee who is off sick. Have a look at the ACAS code of practice on disciplinary issues on acas.org.uk, and please speak to your CAB - your dh needs some help from someone who can help him fight his corner.

mum2taylor Fri 11-Jul-08 14:49:22

Thanks for the advice guys....I had no idea this was the case....[slinks off to nosey on acas website]....advice much appreciated.

flowerybeanbag Fri 11-Jul-08 14:55:52

mum2taylor what's the disciplinary for? And why do DPs employers need access to his medical records to determine the outcome? That sounds very bizarre.

I would agree that other than in exceptional circumstances an employer should wait until someone is fit to work before conducting a disciplinary hearing. If an employee is not fit for work they wouldn't normally be fit to properly participate and represent themselves effectively anyway.

It is good practice to visit members of staff who are off sick for significant periods, to see how things are going, keep them in touch with the workplace and discuss how best to get them back to work, or what support is needed.

However it is not good practice to visit an employee's home to discipline them! I hope they followed all the required steps as set out by Roskva. Even if they did, should DP not be happy with the outcome, he should definitely appeal it.

In terms of accessing medical records generally, there's no rule about when it can be done. An employee must give permission, however. It's fine not to give permission, but consider longer term whether it might be detrimental to refuse permission. Difficult to say without knowing what they want to know and why, but if they need to check that he was genuinely sick, for example, obviously it's in DP's interests to let them see.

mum2taylor Fri 11-Jul-08 15:04:20

flowery my dp has had a couple of bouts of absence due to severe back pain....he has had treatment through his works medical insurance and has provided doctors notes etc. His boss and a fellow manager visited the house to conduct the disciplinary hearing but only his boss was aware that was what the meeting was for...the manager had no clue and was taken aback when my dp raised the issue when they arrived. He was given a copy of the notes taken at this meeting and has since been contacted by HR to say they still wished access to his GP records before they make a final decision on whether he should receive a warning. His absence record is only blighted by this one injury so we are finding this whole situation is turning into a bit of a withhunt tbh. Your advice, as ever grin, is greatly appreciated. What would we do without you on this board!!! wink

flowerybeanbag Fri 11-Jul-08 15:19:19

So he is being disciplined for unacceptable levels of absence? It just wasn't clear whether it was a disciplinary for something else, and DP happened to be off sick, or it was a disciplinary for being off sick.

I would advise he allows access to medical records. I can't see how that can go against him tbh - all it will (presumably) do is confirm that he was genuinely not fit for work.

It is legal to use disciplinary warnings for unacceptable absence, but an employer would have to be careful of things like disability discrimination. Is there an absence management policy that states how absence is dealt with? Do they normally do this for people who are off sick?

mum2taylor Fri 11-Jul-08 15:26:35

the absence level in the office is generally bad, but he is the only person that has the one consistent illness. The letter they sent him to advise him he was being disciplined said it was due to "· Your recent absence from work has been too frequent and ad hoc. Your absence puts pressure on the Company as it is not in a position to plan for your absence.
· You have been off sick since the [ ] and you have failed to follow the Company Procedures at [ ]. You have not yet given the Company a doctor’s note. You have also failed to communicate with the company as set out in the procedures at [ ] by sending a text rather than communicating directly with the Company. The Company has not been in a position to update the Personnel system.

He has actually followed the company procedures as above as it is common practice in the office to communicate by text and his manager agreed with him on this point. He has also given them doctor's notes and communicated with them every day....again his manager agreed with him on this point. So the only thing they can discipline him for is his absence being too frequent and ad hoc?

So far, he is the only person that has been disciplined for being off sick....recently a member of staff turned up to work still drunk from the night before and went home ... they have not been penalised in any way.

flowerybeanbag Fri 11-Jul-08 15:33:48

Get him to allow access to medical records then see what the outcome is.

If there is a warning he should appeal it on the grounds that

-he did follow procedures (assuming he did, and how to communicate isn't actually specified in the procedure)
-he did provide doctor's notes
-he was genuinely not fit to work
-others are not disciplined for sickness absence
and (most importantly)
-he feels the disciplinary procedure used was unfair as he was expected to take part in a hearing in his own home while he was off sick. He was off sick because he was not fit for work, and he considers a disciplinary hearing to be a work activity. As a result he was not able to properly defend himself or participate and feels the fair and reasonable thing to do would be to wait until he was back at work before continuing with the process.

mum2taylor Fri 11-Jul-08 15:38:00

thanks flowery....he is now waiting with baited breath for the results of this disciplinary....he knows that his medical records will support him as his doctor wanted to sign him off work for longer but he said he was under pressure to go back to work, to which his doctor was really angry about but understood that he needs his job, as we have a dd. so it still stands then that they should not have carried out the disciplinary at his home, even though it was related to his sickness?

flowerybeanbag Fri 11-Jul-08 15:43:09

Yes they should have waited definitely. There was no good reason they needed to do this then at all.

Fingers crossed.

mum2taylor Fri 11-Jul-08 15:46:03

thanks for your help flowery! I will keep you posted! X

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