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New employee unable to return to office
230

monotonousmum · 26/01/2022 17:40

Someone on my team started working for us in December - a few days before we were told to work from home again. Employed through and agent, not direct - if that makes a difference.

Happily (it seemed) was in the office for those few days. We were only doing one day a week each in the office at that point.
I wasn't happy about the return home, as it makes training very difficult and she's not had an easy start because of that. I've kept her on easy tasks for this reason, until we return and can do proper training. She seems OK so far, just desperately in need of more training.

Next week we are due back in the office - this was discussed last week (2 weeks notice) and I've said I'd like her in the office 3-4 days a week to start, to attend training. All agreed, no issues.
This would then drop down to 2 days a week in line with the rest of the team, once fully trained and capable of doing any part of the job from home.

She's now gone to my collegue to say she can't return more than one day a week, if at all, and has got a doctors note to confirm this.

I'm not really interested in whether or not I should believe her, she has a doctors note and I'm not going to accuse anyone of lying. Not mentioning it to me when discussed has pissed me off, and in December there didn't seem to be an issue attending the office every day (ongoing medical issue - not new). But we are where we are.

We were clear in the interview that currently the team were doing one day a week in the office but this was due to increase, and they must be able to work from the office full time if that's what the business decides.

My AIBU:
Would it be unreasonable/unprofessional/illegal to say, 'if your medical issue prevents you from attending your place of work then you're off sick until it's resolved'?

I know there is some work she can do from home, but it's not sustainable to keep doing these easy tasks indefinitely - it's not what she's employed for.

There may be some doubt over what the agent told her regarding working from home - which shouldn't really be my problem if the agent is lying to get staff, but the interview with us was definitely clear.

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Am I being unreasonable?

AIBU

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AgentProvocateur · 26/01/2022 17:43

I would let her go now when she’s still in probation. She can’t fulfil her contract.

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MooSakah · 26/01/2022 17:44

If its a fit note then the Dr writes the suggestion of you may be able to return to work if "xyz" if you can't facilitate that then they can't return to work.

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saveforthat · 26/01/2022 17:44

I think you need to consult HR but what does her contract say?

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MooSakah · 26/01/2022 17:45

Be careful in case it is a disability though. It depends what the sick note says.

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sanbeiji · 26/01/2022 17:46

She’s in probation, you can let her go for any reason. So do it.
Of course go through the proper steps, discuss with HR etc and make sure everything is legal

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monotonousmum · 26/01/2022 17:47

She's not employed directly though us, so I haven't seen her contract. It's very unlikely to mention home working. It's unlikely to even mention a specific office tbh, as we have many and need to be able to work at different sites - though we mainly stick to one.

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QuestionsorComments · 26/01/2022 17:48

Why does her doctor think she can be in one day but not more than that?

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MooSakah · 26/01/2022 17:48

@sanbeiji

She’s in probation, you can let her go for any reason. So do it.
Of course go through the proper steps, discuss with HR etc and make sure everything is legal

Not any reason
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rookiemere · 26/01/2022 17:48

If she's employed through an agency ( so not permanent I assume) and she is unable to fulfil her role by only working at home, I think that it would be reasonable not to keep her on and replace her with someone who can carry out the duties you require,but I'm not in HR .

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TrashyPanda · 26/01/2022 17:48

Has anyone actually seen the sick note?

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monotonousmum · 26/01/2022 17:48

@MooSakah

Be careful in case it is a disability though. It depends what the sick note says.

This is my worry. What if it does count as disability? Shouldn't she have mentioned her disability prevented her doing the job before she accepted the job?
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Loopytiles · 26/01/2022 17:48

She’s an agency worker? So has no employment rights other than discrimination. If she has a disability you’ll need to consider reasonable adjustments, but doubt those would include 4 days of 5 working from home.

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monotonousmum · 26/01/2022 17:49

@QuestionsorComments

Why does her doctor think she can be in one day but not more than that?

Apparently doctors not says not at all - but she thinks she might be able to manage one day. I've not seen the note.
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Stripyhoglets1 · 26/01/2022 17:49

You need some advice from HR. An ongoing medical issue could be classed as a disability and if she can't do her job because of it you have to consider reasonable adjustments etc.
I don't think you're being unreasonable to want her in to train her to do her job effectively. If she can't do her job because she isn't trained, and is now saying she can't come in for training then you need to approach it carefully before her probation period is up.
However if she's employed through an agency then can't you just end the contract as she can't do what you need her to do?

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JoanThursday · 26/01/2022 17:49

I have a similar issue. We recruited a new team member on the basis that the role was in the office due to the nature of who we support.

Between accepting the role and starting, they moved out of town now necessitating a 3 hour round commute. Covid meant we could wfh but this now being lifted and we need the team to work most days in the office to give the best service.

Watching with interest!

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Loopytiles · 26/01/2022 17:50

If you’re the line manager ask for info on reasons why she won’t attend the office as requested and seek HR advice.

If you’re not the line manager would talk to the line manager about your business concerns.

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DiddyHeck · 26/01/2022 17:50

It's unclear who her line manager is. You describe her as 'someone on my team', and you said she went to your colleague to say she can't return more than one day a week and that she has a DRs note.

Who is her actual manager?

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SamphiretheStickerist · 26/01/2022 17:50

She's a new start and isn't fitting in. Tell the agency she isn't working for you and get them to find you a new person.

YABU to overthink it.

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QuestionsorComments · 26/01/2022 17:51

If the doctor's saying not at all, I'd refer to OH. If the role means she needs to be in and she's unable to do that she's not able to do the job.

Don't accept one day without taking advice.

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SerendipitySunshine · 26/01/2022 17:51

What is the reason the doctors note gives? Cases are still very high, and if it is anything immune related or that puts her at higher risk than YABU. It is hard to get a doctor's note at the moment, so I'd give her the benefit of the doubt.

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TheKeatingFive · 26/01/2022 17:52

Apparently doctors not says not at all

In that case she'd have to go off sick until it's resolved, no?

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LIZS · 26/01/2022 17:52

If the agency failed to pick up a disability or request for adjustments it is very lax of them. She should have mentioned it during your conversations about office training. Speak to hr and possibly occupational health. It sounds potentially that she may not be able to fulfil the requirements of the job longer term but disability needs careful handling.

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TrashyPanda · 26/01/2022 17:53

Hang fire until you actually see the note

She might just be pulling a fast one

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Unreasonabubble · 26/01/2022 17:53

If they are employed through an agency, then contact the agency and ask for them to be replaced as they are not able to do what you need and want. Your Contract is with the agency, not the individual.

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BuanoKubiamVej · 26/01/2022 17:54

If you aren't even her employer then it should be very simple. You require someone to do a job that needs to be trained for in the office. If she can't attend the office then she can't meet the reqirement for the role and she isn't suitable. Presumably you have a contract with the agency that they will send you a suitably qualified person to do the job? So let them know they need to send someone who can meet your requirements.

It's not discriminatory for an employer to need to employ someone who is capable of meeting the requirements of a job. If someone's health or disability prevents them from meeting those requirements then the job is not available to them.

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