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Absence Management

(6 Posts)
Rockhopper81 Tue 23-May-17 20:15:47

Hope somebody might be able to help or give some advice.

I posted a couple of days ago about returning to work after 5 months absence with anxiety/depression. I'm still keen to do that and currently trying to work out whether resigning from the end of the academic year is the best way forward.

I asked if the reason I had been absent would be held against me - I was reassured it wouldn't, but my absence rate is a concern and any period of absence in the future would be a trigger for absence management, irrespective of cause or duration.

My first action is going to be to enquire further about the absence management policy and what it means! This seems sensible, right?

But I just wondered if anyone could give me a heads up about it.

I may be being totally literal here - I have Aspergers, so don't always understand nuances very well - but I understand that as even one day for a random illness would start absence management proceedings.

Which I kinda understand, but now I am worrying about that as well - I get migraines (not often the cause of absence, but maybe 3 occasional days through a year? - they tend to come on after a hard day and I just push through the next day with the 'hangover headache'), so one of those would get me in trouble. I had my gallbladder removed last year - planned, but I wasn't planning on needing surgery before I found out it had to come out, if that makes sense - so if I needed surgery for anything, I'd be in trouble. If I caught a D&V bug from one of the children (I work in school), I'd be in trouble. I obviously don't want to become this anxious/depressed again, but I can't promise there won't be ups and downs - this would land me in trouble too (I would understand another prolonged period of absence would be an issue, I'm talking about a day or two).

I guess it's just pushing me towards thinking that I might as well just quit and go back and live with my parents. I don't want to spend my whole time worrying about getting ill (that would only fuel my anxiety more, surely?).

iveburntthetoast Wed 24-May-17 14:00:31

My husband's company had this kind of policy (they had the 'Bradford formula.'). 3 absences started disciplinary measures. This meant that there was someone who had 1 absence for flu, who then hurt his arm and was off for a week. He really wasn't fit enough to come back, but he didn't want to let colleagues down etc. Unfortunately, he was only back 2 days and he had to go back on sick leave. This was enough to trigger a disciplinary warning. If he'd taken 1 absence of 6 months, he'd have been OK. It's a terrible system IMO.

Have you checked whether you're covered by the disability discrimination act? (Or maybe it's been changed to the Equality Act). Any way, it's possible that your depression could count as a disability, which would give you more legal protection & absences would/should be dealt with differently. I'm not 100% sure on all this, but it's worth considering

Rockhopper81 Wed 24-May-17 16:53:23

Hi,
Thanks for your reply. I'm covered by the Equality Act because I have Aspergers Syndrome, but I'm not sure if that will help here.

I know I've been off a long time and I appreciate that, but I guess I just feel like I'm going to spend all my time now worrying about getting migraine or an upset stomach. I'm not sure I can work like that.

I asked for clarification what it meant - basically, high rates of absence/low rates or attendance are a problem financially and for the children with disruption. I don't necessarily disagree with these statements, but I still want to know what if I am unavoidably ill, an I going to be in big trouble!

My dad's employer has the same system as your husbands - it's made him really, really reluctant to take time off when he's been ill, at the detriment of his health at times. Yet some people know exactly how to 'play the system' with it. It's annoying for people who are genuinely ill.

I'm not advocating absence from work willy nilly or anything like that - far from it! - just that I have enough anxiety in my life without being constantly paranoid I'll get a migraine or an upset stomach that would take me off for a day.

dangermouseisace Wed 24-May-17 18:35:11

We had a 'system' in place at my last work. I think the intention of these absence management things is to weed out people who take a lot of occasional days off…due to hangovers, Mondays/Fridays as they have better things to do etc, rather than people who are genuinely ill. Or at least that is what I was told! Although everyone has to go through the processes. At my old work I'd say about 50% of us were on the absence management/disciplinary system and none of us in our team were at risk of losing their jobs. My mother has health problems where she has had to have prolonged periods of time off work, and I think she's been on absence management for most of the time she's been at her work (about 15 years!).

It might be worthwhile to get rid of the idea that if you are off you will be 'in trouble'. You won't be in trouble, you'll only be setting the cogs of the absence management system going. You've had genuine reason to be off, so you have nothing to worry about. If you catch D&V etc the school would really rather you were off than spreading it about, regardless of what happens with the absence management system.

It is really common for people to be off work for a prolonged period of time with anxiety/depression. If you are thinking of going back to work then you must be feeling a lot better. Your work should support you to come back gradually. Do you have telephone contact with them, or a meeting planned where you could talk about your concerns? Handing in your notice sounds rather extreme!

NolongerAnxiousCarer Wed 24-May-17 19:02:49

Where I work we have a similar sounding abscence management policy triggered by 3 episodes within 12 months however short. I have triggered it in the past for genuine reasons and the only thing that happened was a meeting with my manager to discuss why I had been off and if work could have been done by me or work to prevent me being off. It was decided all illnessess (back injury, stress caused by a family member suddenly becoming seriously ill and D&V) were genuine and the absences were unavoiadable and that no furthur action would be taken.

As others have said these policies are put in place to discourage skiving an iin my experience if the illnesses are genuine then you dont need to worry.

Rockhopper81 Wed 24-May-17 19:17:21

I think it's because this has been a period of 5 months absence. I will also have an 'intensive action plan', which I'm concerned about due to the need to 'catch up' quickly and the pressures that might cause.

I know resigning seems like an extreme reaction, but unfortunately teaching isn't getting any less stressful or demanding, and I can't afford to fail again (professionally or personally - feeling like I am a failure is a big part of my depression). I'm just wondering whether, for the sake of me health going forward, I'd be better off finding another field of work.

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