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Can they sack my friend over this?

(15 Posts)
PuppyLoves Tue 18-Aug-09 13:50:59

She hurt her back on a Wednesday during work. Didn't realise until she got home how bad it was so didn't write it in the accident book.
She had Thursday off sick and phoned in and left a message saying she had hurt her back on Wednesday whilst at work so she wouldn't be in.
Friday she went to the doctor, who said that as she was off work the following week on annual leave he wouldn't sign her off sick.
A week later he did sign her off for a length of time.

Now her manager is saying that when she phoned in sick before her annual leave, she said had flu and that and so this triggers a disaplinary interview.

In the interview my friend told them she didn't say she had flu and the man who took the message made a mistake. She has a letter from the doctor saying that she visited the doctor on Friday with a injury to her back caused by an accident at work.

The managers response is that the man who took the message never makes mistakes and he has known him for years. And he made a point of noting down that my friend must be calling the man in question a lier. The manager also said that he won't accept the letter from the doctor as it is dated 4 weeks after the accident, my friend explained that she this is the day the doctor wrote the letter but its got the dates she visited the doctor within it but he gave her the letter back and said it was rubbish.

He also brought up the fact that she has had time off for depression two years ago, which is unrelated to this particular disciplinary.

This sounds totally unprofessional to me. My friend left the room in tears and will find out tomorrow if she has been fired.

What do think?

atworknotworking Tue 18-Aug-09 18:10:58

Can't give you any advice I'm afraid but bumping for you, I'm sure a HR expert will be along shortly.

Feeling sad for your friend

PuppyLoves Tue 18-Aug-09 20:57:38

Thanks notworking smile

edam Tue 18-Aug-09 21:01:20

Outrageous. Am sure this contravenes all sorts of things. You can't sack someone because your bessie mate never makes a mistake!

There are rules and regulations about disciplinary procedures that companies must follow. They used to be on the employment section at - have a look around there and also try the ACAS website.

I'd also suggest she sees an employment lawyer asap - and contact her union if she's joined one. Many lawyers will do an initial interview for free - don't know if any employment lawyers do no win, no fee, but worth finding out.

PuppyLoves Tue 18-Aug-09 21:38:11

I couldn't believe it edam tbh. She had a union rep in with her but the manager was shouting at him as well apparently. The union rep said to her after the interview not to worry as they always had the appeal.

But I was shocked she could be treated like this

carrielou2007 Tue 18-Aug-09 22:36:50

Hang on, if she was unable to work due to illness I thought this would cancel out the annual leave? So that week would be classed as continual sickness rather than two separate times?

Disgraceful way to treat someone anyway.

PuppyLoves Tue 18-Aug-09 22:49:09

I agree carrielou and think she made a mistake by taking the leave and not still declaring herself as sick. But I think she thought this was the easiest thing to do.

RoobeeToozdae Tue 18-Aug-09 22:57:50

this sounds completely wrong. What sector does she work in? Is it a "one off" company or part of a larger operation. Unbelievable that the union rep has behaved like this too. They are meant to support the member and ensure they give advice that protects their members interest.

Is there another union rep or a more senior union person she can go to? Perhaps ring the union's regional office. She has paid her membership and is entitled to proper representation. They will also provide legal advice and representation should she need to go to a tribunal.

Has she been given a copy of the company's sickness absence or disciplinary policy? She needs this to establish the process and whether or not this is being implemented completely.

Doesn't sound like any process (or standard of professional behaviour) I have come across.

PuppyLoves Wed 19-Aug-09 17:29:18

She works for a national company Roobee.

Sexonlegs Wed 19-Aug-09 21:23:15

Good God; what era are they are in.

This sounds utter madness.

How was your friends' sickness record prior to all this? How long has she been employed by this Company?

I know some companies use something called The Bradord Factor for measuring sickess and when they reach a certain point it triggers various things - meetings, warnings etc. but if her sick record had been low before this, then I am very surprised.

Also, to reject a letter from a GP imo is nonsense.

And also, to bring up a totally unrelated episode of sickness is not on at all.

Where are things at the moment?

PuppyLoves Wed 19-Aug-09 21:32:36

She is still waiting to hear thier descion, I spoke to her today and she said they are going to interview the man who took the message and then let her know sometime next week.

She's been with them roughly 10 years, I know 2 years ago she had problems with depression and had time off. But I think recently she has been very good re. absences.

Sexonlegs Wed 19-Aug-09 21:53:23

This all sounds ridiculous. Has she spoken to Acas?

And to leave her hanging around for such an age in regard to a decision is outrageous. Is she at work currently, or is she still signed off by her GP?

To dismiss someone with 10 years service without prior warnings (unless summary dismissal for gross misconduct) is unfair dismissal.

I would be interested to hear more.

Wolfcub Wed 19-Aug-09 22:02:27

I think she needs to get some advice from a good employment lawyer

hatesponge Wed 19-Aug-09 22:20:33

Am not an expert, but am almost certain that the company cant simply thumb their nose at the GP letter. The company can make their own enquiries of the GP if necessary, or your friend could request a copy of her records showing the dates of her attendances.

You say she was signed off sick. What does it say on her sick cert? This will give a reason for absence and will obviously pre-date the GP letter.

Is it possible the disciplinary process is related to the notification of absence they received? Or for failing to follow proper procedure in respect of the accident?

As far as sickness notification is concerned, I know many firms (mine included) have a designated person (line manager, HR bod, etc) you have to speak to on the first day of absence. It is a disciplinary offence simply to phone & leave a msg with someone else, or a voicemail, or send a text. The reason is these 1/2 people are trusted to make a proper record of reasons given, who is and isnt in work on a given day etc.

As for the accident, it concerns me that from what you say, the accident wasn't put in the accident book at the time, or as soon as possible afterwards. In fact has this now been done? Its not clear from your post. The company could get into major problems with their insurers/HSE should your friend pursue a claim for workplace injury. Firms are required to ensure all accidents are fully written up asap thereafter - failure to do so can void their employers/public liability insurance cover. I wonder whether when your friend phoned, it wasnt noted as a workplace accident, not put in the accident book & therefore when it subsequently came to light (prob when your friend sent in 1st sick cert) the shit royally hit the fan.......and now everyone is trying no doubt to cover their own backs probably at your friends expense.

If she is in a union, they may be able to help. She should take a union rep, or at least a supportive colleague, into any future meetings. She should also seek legal advice if she can - this may be free with her union, or under some insurance policies.

PuppyLoves Thu 20-Aug-09 13:57:30

Her sick cert. said she was off because of her back injury afaik.

With her company there is specific sick number you have to phone and this is what she did. The man in question, who took the message is like a PA, he fills out all the absences etc.

Hatesponge I think you have hit the nail on the head with regrds to them trying to cover thier own back.

She has had union represation all alog but they aren't doing a lot. They have told management they haven't had all the paperwork reg. the accident but don't seem to taking it any further.

I've told her to take it futher, ie seek legal advice as many of you have suggested but she says she will wait until the descion and then appeal.

I'll keep you posted.

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