Potential dismissal at work

LizaY Member Posts: 3
Apologies for the long post - I'm a newbie here but wanted some advice on a work problem.

I was diagnosed with PsA when I was 23 - I am now 26, and have worked the entire time I have been ill. As a result I have had high sickness absence (we have a yearly number of sick days, which I haven't gone over, but then also a trigger level of number of instances and duration of each instance).
I have had an essay's worth of problems with the organisation i work for regarding sickness levels, being forced to reduce contract hours then denied the chance to start working longer hours again (quite a lot under the guise of being 'for my own good'). I've been shuttled back and forth between HR and Occ Health, and it has been a long battle to make sense of the situation I have found myself in.
I recently declared myself as disabled at work - a move which I had not been keen to make, but felt that I had no option than to take. I was advised that because my condition affects the amount of sickness I have (although NOT my ability to work when I am in work), it would be the best way to avoid any discrimination from HR.

I did that, and as my manager and HR were unwilling to do their job and set sickness level targets, Occ Health cobbled together some target numbers (based on the years sickness report). HR accepted this, the contract got changed and I am now allowed to make the decision of when I go back to doing full hours every day. WIN, or so I thought.

I recently had another review with my manager, and was informed my him that I was currently on my trigger level for sickness absence, and that I should know that it could lead to my dismissal for inability to do the job. I was also told I would be given another month, and then they would average out the absence level. I wasn't told that I was under any disciplinary review or procedure (so I presume I'm not, at the moment), and also I wasn't given any information that there would be, only that I could lose my job.

Does anyone know how this kind of dismissal works? What kind of process should be happening - should I be expecting unemployment next month, or is there a set review procedure that has to happen first? The sickness targets I'm about to go over were put together in five minutes by myself and an Occ Health advisor, based on the number of days I have previously had off for arthritis, tonsillitis, general colds - unfortunately I do seem to be prone to getting different things.

I'm just not sure what to do at the moment. I feel that I have spent a lot of time struggling recently, but that no matter what effort I make it's never quite enough. I've always been encouraged to work, even when I probably could have just got a doctors note and taken time off, and the idea that I might be found unfit to work when I know I could offer a lot upsets me. I dread the idea people think I'm being lazy, or taking advantage of my arthritis to sit back and avoid work.


  • mariet1
    mariet1 Member Posts: 4
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Liza, I have had arthritis for about 25 years and have had a number of Occupational Health assessments. In my work they have a separate trigger point for disability related sickness. I have the same trigger point as everyone else for non disability related absence and an agree trigger for OA. This was agreed based on historical absence and what the business was able to accept. The agreement is to review regularly with a view to reducing it if possible. I have been through the process of dismissal on the grounds of capability for someone I managed and it took nearly a year. I had to set them an agreed trigger point then if it went over hold a review meeting and agree to how many days was acceptable in that period. If they went over I had to set another meeting and put them on a warning and give them another chance. If anytime in this process the person said they hadn't received the letter for the meeting it all had to start again!. In your case I assume they gave you a warning to how many days more you could have in the month? My view is that if you don't go over then they can't retrospectively average early absences and use these instead. If you do go over then I assume they can go down dismissal on capability but I'm not an HR expert.
  • mellman01
    mellman01 Member Posts: 5,303
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    HI firstly take note of dates etc and get as much in writing, they should inform you in writing anyway if not then they are not following the rules so notes and date and times are highly useful I recorded loads of stuff phone calls work I'd be given outside my remit anything it's always good to have as much data as pos.
    That said you should have formal written company policy for such a case as yours winging it is a bit slap dash and can play in your favour if things don't improve etc.
    Now does your place have a union?, if it has please join it ASAP they will help you with legal costs and representation that said if they haven't you can join any union in the UK but they probably wont be able to offer you as much cover I'd also not tell anyone if you join an external one keep it uner your hat if you can, I was in UNITE and my rep was a great, and what pension scheme do they have there, if they have one get the their information booklet and read up on ill health at work section.
    Also have you got any information on their (HR) capability procedures?, this is the claus\law you need to read up on it's a bit of a catch all and is the one they all use on ill employees, I was confronted with this as soon as I returned from my double knee op in 2008 I was then ran down the capability road until I was formally retired on ill health in 2011.
    anyway if you need a bit more help feel free to PM me I normally check my mail very day or so.
  • LizaY
    LizaY Member Posts: 3
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thank you both for your advice - I have now looked into joining my Union and started arranging a timeline of events/action so far, so hopefully I should be well prepared for whatever happens next! I'm also doing some research into the actual guidelines/procedures of our company, very illuminating stuff in there...

    It definitely helps to get outside perspective on problems, so glad I joined the forum!

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