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Off work with stress and attending interviews - problems?

(6 Posts)
PaleFire Tue 23-Sep-08 20:34:10

I have been off work with stress for the last couple of weeks (due to unreasonable demands and high workloads). Last week I attended an interview for another position, and today I found out I got the job.

This is all great, but I then find out that the new job has applied for references to my current job before I have a chance to hand my notice in. My HR Department sent me an e-mail about this asking what was going on, and I had to come clean. I said I attended an interview last week and would be handing my notice in as soon as I have formal confirmation of a job offer.

Now DH seems to think this may land me in some hot water, and my company may be able to take measure against me (sacking me even) for going for this interview while off sick.

My reading of the situation is that my sick note says I'm not fit for work, but this doesn't really cover interviews. Especially if the interview will (as has happened) help with my stress levels.

Can any employment law experts shed any lights on this? I'm starting to panic that I could have got myself into trouble here.

PaleFire Wed 24-Sep-08 09:04:45

Nobody out there have any ideas about this? I'm getting more and more worried that my company will be able to sack me over this.

Miaou Wed 24-Sep-08 09:13:33

Hopefully flowerybeanbag can help you out on this palefire.

I don't know for certain, but tbh I don't think your current company can do much about it except make their feelings known. Unless there is specifically something in your contract that says you must not attend interviews for other companies whilst off sick (and lets be honest, what's the chances of that? smile), then I don't really see what they can do. If they were to sack you then they would have to prove gross misconduct I think (flowerybeanbag will correct me on that if I'm wrong), and tbh I can't see that they could do that. They can't give you a bad reference in retribution, as that would be illegal.

It's pretty bad practice for your new company to contact your existing one in this way; however knowing how companies work it could well have been some ignorant office junior that did so hmm.

IIWY I would ring your new-to-be boss in the new company and explain the situation, not in a blaming way but in a "this is happening at the moment" way - if they are aware that life has become difficult for you at the old company then they should be understanding.

sorry, a lot of waffle and not much substance - I can appreciate just how worrying this must be for you.

flowerybeanbag Wed 24-Sep-08 09:14:27

Don't worry. They have no reason to sack you, you have told them you will be handing in your notice shortly. Are you receiving any kind of occupational sick pay from them? The only thing they could do is want to consider challenging whether you are genuinely sick and therefore whether you are entitled to that.

But if you are medically not fit for work that doesn't mean you are not fit for attending a meeting that lasts maybe an hour. If they tried to sack you and you had already resigned and it was to do with your sickness they'd be very foolish, and if they seek a second medical opinion about whether you are in fact fit for work, they are unlikely to hear anything different. They are very unlikely to do this for someone who is leaving anyway tbh, it's a waste of time and resources for a problem that will be out of their hair shortly.

I would ask the HR department to keep this confidential from your manager until such time as you are able to resign, and I would also contact whoever at the new company requested the references without your permission from your current employer before you had received a formal offer and make known that this has caused a problem and that you are unimpressed.

flowerybeanbag Wed 24-Sep-08 09:15:41

And yes, providing you are not already on some kind of warning and providing you have more than a year's service, they can't just sack you straight away anyway.

PaleFire Wed 24-Sep-08 09:27:54

Thanks for the advice. I am receiving sick pay, so that's something to bear in mind. I've been there a couple of years and have never had disciplinary issues.

I'll give both HR departments a call this morning and see what can be sorted out.

I feel a little bit less panicky now though.

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