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can i be sacked

(30 Posts)
delirious123 Fri 22-May-09 20:20:45

Hi, I returned to work in the NHS last October after birth of ds. I was back a few weeks and then I had a problem with my shoulder so could not work - got signed off for 6 weeks by dr. Went back to work and needed a few days off for personal emergencies in January. Mid feb I went off with migraines, i have been off since then with headaches. Had a scan and I am waiting for results. I had one interview last Nov for shoulder problem and was told my sickness record has to pick up. A few weeks ago my boss came to my house and was all nicey nicey, asking what they could do to help me back. I think I will not be back for quite a few weeks yet so have been called back for an interview next week for formal talk with my boss about my sickness record.

Just wondering if they can sack me as I have drs notes for all sickness and my two illnesses are not related. Why was my boss all nice few weeks ago but now things are getting formal again. I am worried that the boss was all nice to be so it looks like he is following correct procedure to fire me.

I was off 10 weeks during my pregnancy for different reasons and about 6 weeks in total the year before that.

smittenkitten Fri 22-May-09 20:28:36

hi. the fact your absence is covered by doctors' notes does not prevent your employer from dismissing you if you are incapable of doing the job. it sounds like your boss is just following the correct procedure for long term absence - asking how they can facilitiate a return to work. to be honest, with one review meeting in 3.5 months they aren't exactly rushing you. I am surprised that you haven 't been given a copy of your absence procedure and know what stage you are at. I'd phone your boss and ask.

delirious123 Fri 22-May-09 20:30:48

all that was really said was that my absence had to pick up, but if I am ill, I am ill

EccentricaGallumbits Fri 22-May-09 20:35:04

If you are sick often there are ways they can endd your contract.

you need to talk to occupational health ASAP.

smittenkitten Fri 22-May-09 20:35:08

if you are too ill to attend work then of course you can make a judgement about that in conjunction with your doctor, but it's not your employer's fault either and they don't have to hold your job open indefinitely. I am sure the organisation will have an absence policy so I would really advise you to speak to your boss or HR and understand where you are in the process.

mankyscotslass Sat 23-May-09 08:15:13

Yes they can dismiss you for absence from work, but only if they follow the proper guidelines in their policies.

Even if you have doctors notes.

I'm pretty sure they cannot use pregnancy related illness in any disciplinary procedures for absence, but would instead focus on your absence since returning, or prior to your pregnancy if they had concerns.

They would want to identify if there is any underlying medical condition they need to be aware of or any adjustments they can make to get you back to work.

HappyMummyOfOne Sat 23-May-09 11:13:16

To be fair to your employer, you have been off more than in from your post and (exc pregnancy sickness) had quite a bit off time off prior to that.

Sick notes wont stop them dismissing you as long as they follow the correct procedure. They may be paying agency as well as sick pay and it all costs extra so they may choose to dismiss you on capability reasons and advertise the job.

Like others have said, check how far into the disciplinary stage you are at - your policy should then show the number of absences after that that will trigger dismissal.

BBisfinallyPG Sat 23-May-09 19:17:10

your sick notes do not protect you in this instance unfortunately and given the sheer amount of time you have had off, i dont think you are in a good position (not meaning that in a nasty way but in a factual way).

You have to consider the stresses that your sickness will have put on management & other colleagues, both in a monetary sense and a working conditions sense. however you know your bosses better than we do, and they may take into consideration your less recent history, length of service etc? if i am being honest ( not being deliberately mean just putting myself in thier position) given that you admit you had six weeks sickness last year prior to any preg related illness that really isnt very good, because persumably you also had holiday etc?

I dont know your personal circumstance, and presume your family emergency issues in Jan were issue that no-one else could attend but its all stack against you... Perhaps it would be wise to prepare answers (extensive) to the questions you are about to face? this seems to me your best hope of keeping your job.

Hope to of helped, apologies if my response came accross harsh, but its an outside opinion.

flowerybeanbag Sat 23-May-09 22:20:54

So you've been off constantly for three months with headaches and don't have any kind of diagnosis or anything yet?

I don't think they'll sack you yet. But I would expect them to be pushing for a second medical opinion possibly. They will want some concrete information about exactly what this problem is that means you are having so long off, and what the likelihood is of getting you back to work in the foreseeable future.

I would expect them to push that, which will give them enough information to make decisions about what to do next.

If you work for the NHS I expect there is a robust and detailed sickness absence management procedure. Get yourself a copy of that so that you are fully informed of what 'normal' procedure is for handling this level of sickness absence, and you should be prepared for them to seek a medical opinion as I mentioned.

delirious123 Sat 23-May-09 22:28:37

to be honest, this post is not about me but about my friend. I have found out she does not go on this website (was worried she would read it). I have not discussed the risk of losing her job with her, as she seems denial. I am sure the possibility has not crossed her mind. The sickness i mentioned is just tip of the iceberg and her sickness levels each year run into weeks at a time.

I don;t know what to do to help. I think it has gone past the point where going back to work will make much difference unless she is not off for about another 5 yrs.

ruddynorah Sat 23-May-09 22:32:12

yes that is a heck of a lot of sickness.

your friend can easily be sacked, especially if the absences are unrelated to each other and if they are not covered by the DDA.

delirious123 Sat 23-May-09 22:43:04

there seems to be no consistancy in NHS. I was off three days in 6 months and got a written caution on my record and a verbal warning.shock

delirious123 Mon 29-Jun-09 20:45:53

update: friend went to see boss two weeks ago and they want her to go to occ health next week and then want to see her again after report from occ health. Boss was very nice and sympathetic. She says she is not worried now cos they are making her stay off.

I'm a bit suspicious that they are being nice as possible so friend has no grounds to fight any termination of her contract.

Her scan was negatives and all tests negative.
How likely is dismissal. I asked if boss have mentioned any possibility of dismissal and she denies it.

flowerybeanbag Mon 29-Jun-09 20:51:37

I would say dismissal is reasonably likely, obviously depending on the report from OH and what the internal procedures are. With that amount of sickness without any reasonable medical explanation or disability involved dismissal has to be a realistic possibility, yes.

delirious123 Mon 29-Jun-09 20:58:48

Do HR make a point of being nice and OTT to reduce any chance of an attempt to claim unfair dismissal by employees?

delirious123 Mon 29-Jun-09 20:59:50

I am sure she will play the 'stress' card next

flowerybeanbag Mon 29-Jun-09 21:23:09

What do you mean 'OTT'? To avoid unfair dismissal claims HR try to ensure that managers follow the correct procedures when dealing with this types of situations and are reasonable at all times.

If a procedure isn't followed or the decision to dismiss is unfair/unreasonable, then no amount of being OTT 'nice' will make any difference!!

Isn't it your friend's manager being nice anyway, not HR?

islandofsodor Mon 29-Jun-09 21:26:23

A positive story is that my sil who also works for the NHS was passed from pillar to post about her bad back which was according to her doctor becasue she was too fat.

Occupational health pushed for her and she finally found out what was causing it, a nasty disc problem that ended up in am emergency op. She has hardly worked in the last year but is now pain free and due to go back as soon as she has recovered from the op.

PotPourri Mon 29-Jun-09 21:29:01

Sounds like dismissal is likely in this case. An absence procedure does not question the legitimacy of the illness, but the employers ability to sustain that level of absence. They are quitw within their rights to sack her, following the relevant procedure, if they are unable to support that level of absecne. Even if it is stress related, even if the employer caused that stress, and even if there are doctors notes for every absence (if there weren't then that would be picked up on the seperate discipline procedure).

If the maternity illnesses were pregnancy related, the employer can't count them. But if they were colds, headaches, broken toe etc, then they can. And it sounds like there is no underlying health problem which could potentially fall under hte DDA (Disability discrimination act), so each absence can be counted.

I know it seems harsh to her for her to be sacked, but if you think of the employers side - they are trying to provide a service, they are paying her to participate in that. She is unable to do so, so her colleagues are having to cover, or costs are incurred for the employer over and above her salary in temporary cover or overtime etc. There comes a point where if you stand back, it is perfectly reasonable for the employer to say enough is enough.

I hope you can make her realise this. Absence is one of the more straightforward ways of sacking someone

delirious123 Mon 29-Jun-09 22:00:11

meant manager not HR

smallchange Mon 29-Jun-09 22:13:27

I work in the NHS and had a colleague last year who was off sick for a long time. Occupational Health were a great help to her, and I know having been on the management side that they will be following the sickness policy very carefully (and it's very fair to the employee, quite rightly, imo).

In the end my colleague was redeployed within the organisation in a role which she found easier to manage. So they do try other solutions.

delirious123 Mon 29-Jun-09 22:23:48

It would be hard to redeploy her as she has one of the easiest least physical jobs going.

lal123 Tue 30-Jun-09 16:14:29

I work in the NHS - and dismissals are pretty rare - even for appalling sickness records. I imagine that if your friend was working for a private sector company she would have been sacked long ago.

mosschops30 Tue 30-Jun-09 16:20:36

I work in NHS too, my sickness record since I started new job in March has been appalling through no fault of my own.

I came from my previous post with 2 episodes of sickness, I had my 3rd in my current post which required an informal interview. If I have another 3 episodes then I will have a formal interview, another 3 gets me a written warning, then dismissal (think these are yearly though, so 2 episodes allowed per year).

Each NHS trust has its own sickness guidelines, you need to get a copy of yours, see where youre at and make sure that both you and your employer are following procedure.

delirious123 Fri 24-Jul-09 16:53:08

Update: Friend was all set to return to work, but now boss has called her and friend told she did not feel well, and was stressed and depressed. Boss says i don't think you are ready to come back and should take another 4 weeks off. Friend is going to tell them she wants to go back in next few weeks as she is now on half pay. I told her, I think their decision is final and they will have to give her the go-ahead. They have called another meeting in three weeks.

Just have feeling this is not going to end well hmm

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