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What can I do about a bad sickness record?
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# 1
Arne
Old 09-02-2009, 12:32 PM
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Default What can I do about a bad sickness record?

I would like to get another job and move back to my home area but I am worried about my sickness record.

I have been off work since May with work related stress and depression after an incidence with my boss. I have not made a complaint about the incident but have agreed to have mediation which should have happened by now but has been getting cancelled for various reasons.

After long talks with friends and family I have decided that I would like to move back to my home area (where I live is where my ex husband is from) and I am looking for jobs as my doctor say that once the mediation happens he thinks I would be able to cope with being back at work in some capacity.

What can I do or say to make my situation any better when looking for a new job? I have basically been a civil servant or local government employee for the last 30 years so I have no experience of job hunting anyway.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.
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# 2
Oldernotwiser
Old 09-02-2009, 12:35 PM
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If you are currently a Civil Servant or local government worker, can you not look for internal vacancies and try for a transfer?
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# 3
Liz the Whizz
Old 09-02-2009, 1:26 PM
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Very sensible advice from oldernotwiser, now is not a good time to be jobseeking, especially with a poor sickness record.

A transfer would be tremendous. Looking for work without success may add to your current difficulties rather than being the fresh start you are looking for.

If you do decide to make the move and can't transfer, you need to be open, honest and positive about your sickness record (ie it was caused by an incident and is all behind you). Temping is the best way to put clear water between you and your past, as you can build a credible track record quickly.

Good luck whatever route you take to your future!
"Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm" (Sir Winston Churchill)
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# 4
Arne
Old 09-02-2009, 1:33 PM
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I now work for a small Government Agency (still at the same place as when I was a Civil Servant) and they don't have any offices near there so I cant try for internal transfer.

Initially I am hoping to get a temporary contract just so that I can move as that seems to be the best way to obtain knowledge and experience that will stand me in good stead for future permanent jobs. It is a tourist area and I am willing to do anything reasonable, (cleaning, shelf stacking etc.) I wouldn't apply for a cooking job for example as I have no experience in catering for numbers.

Last edited by Arne; 09-02-2009 at 1:47 PM.
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# 5
SomeBozo
Old 09-02-2009, 6:12 PM
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The best thing you can do about a poor sickness record is to stop it.

Have a good period of attendance (most people ask for sickness records for 3 years) and the bad attendance will fall off.

3 years is a long time though and perhaps not what you wanted to hear, in that case follow oldernotwisers advice.

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# 6
Horace
Old 09-02-2009, 6:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arne View Post
I now work for a small Government Agency (still at the same place as when I was a Civil Servant) and they don't have any offices near there so I cant try for internal transfer.

Initially I am hoping to get a temporary contract just so that I can move as that seems to be the best way to obtain knowledge and experience that will stand me in good stead for future permanent jobs. It is a tourist area and I am willing to do anything reasonable, (cleaning, shelf stacking etc.) I wouldn't apply for a cooking job for example as I have no experience in catering for numbers.
Instead of transferring to a civil service job in the same field - transfer to another field altogether. With regard to your sickness - you need to address that, why haven't you bothered submitting a complaint? Why haven't the civil service offered you some occupational health help e.g. phased return to work etc? You can find other civil service jobs by looking at the Civil Service Gateway.

To be off since May is a long time and basically you need to get back to work pronto and stay in work so that you can demonstrate that you can hold down a job without going off sick. Sorry if this sounds harsh.
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# 7
Arne
Old 09-02-2009, 8:03 PM
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I didnt submit a complaint at the time because I didnt follow proper proceedures as I was so distressed I couldnt talk to a stranger. My bosses line manager had left and hadnt been replaced at that time, his previous boss (when we were part of another section) had been made redundant so I couldnt go and talk to him either. The person who was trying to act as his line manager was already dealing with 3 divisions apart from her own plus I had never met her and she left within a month of me being signed off. The HR Director was informed within a week what had happened but it took HR until September to get me an appointment with the Occupational Health Doctor who agreed that it was work related stress.
After that I have been attending regualar meetings with my bosses new line manager, an HR person, and my unison rep where we agreed that this was a one off incident and that independant mediation would be organised for us both.

After the mediation they will then put in a phased return to work for me to return to my old job.

I have been asking if I could come back and work in another work area for a time to build up my confidence again but I keep getting told that they want me back at my own desk doing my own job. Other people in other sections have told me that they have asked for help for some basic projects and mentioned my name but that they also get told no.

Horace, your comments do sound harsh, they may be fair but until then I had had a good sickness record and I was reasonably well regarded at my work. I never thought to be in this position but thank you all for your comments.
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# 8
cazziebo
Old 09-02-2009, 10:34 PM
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If you think Horace was harsh this is going to sound harsher.....

The public sector has the luxury of exercising these kinds of policies. The private sector hasn't. I'm always concerned when I'm hiring someone from the public sector about their expectations, which are always way higher than private sector can offer. We don't "do" occupational health, phased return to work, allowances to build up confidence etc. If I had someone off for three months (never mind nine) then I would be looking to terminate them on grounds of incapacity. If someone can't manage working relationships, and the result is 9 months sick leave, then that is a concern.

Right now, it's a difficult market for recruitment. I'm only going to hire safe bets who I think will work out for my organisation. That means minimising all risks, and a poor attendance record is a HUGE risk.

As ONW says, stay in the public sector and transfer, or as Liz says temp for a while. If you temp you lose not only your protected employee rights as a civil servant, but also a lot of ordinary employee rights.

I think you have to take control of this situation, and stop expecting your employer to solve it for you. Find the solution, and make it work.
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# 9
Arne
Old 10-02-2009, 7:50 AM
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Thank you for your comments about the seriousness of my situation. I knew it was bad but I didnt realise how bad or that my options were so few. No one would take me on as a temp as I have no special skills and as I am not a civil servant anymore due to the status of the Agency I cant transfer.
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# 10
mumoftwins
Old 10-02-2009, 8:03 AM
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Arne,

I, too, had a period of time off work due to my boss and his attitude to his staff and eventually was 'released' on incapacity grounds.

Try the NHS, they seem to be understanding about time off for sickness.

There are loads of jobs within a variety of areas that you should be able to do. Register on this link for daily jobs email: www.jobs.nhs.uk.

Good luck and things will come right for you.
Christians Against Poverty - www.capuk.org
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# 11
poker_face
Old 11-02-2009, 11:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mumoftwins View Post
Arne,

I, too, had a period of time off work due to my boss and his attitude to his staff and eventually was 'released' on incapacity grounds.

Try the NHS, they seem to be understanding about time off for sickness.

There are loads of jobs within a variety of areas that you should be able to do. Register on this link for daily jobs email: www.jobs.nhs.uk.

Good luck and things will come right for you.
Public sector is probably your best bet
|Credit Card Debt Free|I'll bring you flowers in the pouring rain|

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# 12
polgara
Old 11-02-2009, 12:22 PM
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Don't bet on it - I'm in the NHS and we're currently dismissing a lot of people on capability grounds. Every organisation has to meet their CRES (cash releasing efficiency savings) - approximately 3% taken off budgets every year. Poor sickness levels = agency, bank or overtime spend so levels are scrutinised closely. Sickness records are part of the recruitment process and lots of NHS organisations are also instigating probationary periods to stop a 'sicknote' culture.

If you really want to join the NHS it might be best to try the staff banks - it is temporary work but would show that you are able, can commit and are reliable - therefore more appointable too.

<As an aside once was running the HR session at induction when a new employee asked how many days off sick they could have a year . Made sure I got their name...just in case>
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# 13
Horace
Old 11-02-2009, 12:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arne View Post
I didnt submit a complaint at the time because I didnt follow proper proceedures as I was so distressed I couldnt talk to a stranger. My bosses line manager had left and hadnt been replaced at that time, his previous boss (when we were part of another section) had been made redundant so I couldnt go and talk to him either. The person who was trying to act as his line manager was already dealing with 3 divisions apart from her own plus I had never met her and she left within a month of me being signed off. The HR Director was informed within a week what had happened but it took HR until September to get me an appointment with the Occupational Health Doctor who agreed that it was work related stress.
After that I have been attending regualar meetings with my bosses new line manager, an HR person, and my unison rep where we agreed that this was a one off incident and that independant mediation would be organised for us both.

After the mediation they will then put in a phased return to work for me to return to my old job.

I have been asking if I could come back and work in another work area for a time to build up my confidence again but I keep getting told that they want me back at my own desk doing my own job. Other people in other sections have told me that they have asked for help for some basic projects and mentioned my name but that they also get told no.

Horace, your comments do sound harsh, they may be fair but until then I had had a good sickness record and I was reasonably well regarded at my work. I never thought to be in this position but thank you all for your comments.
Sorry if my comments sounded harsh - they come from experience from both sides of the fence both as a person with a previously good sickness record to having work-related stress and then being made redundant and from a unison branch secretary point of view.

At least you now have a unsion rep who is willing to attend meetings with you and has agreed that mediation is the best approach, however, remember that although mediatiion has been recommended by HR and you have agreed to it the instigator of the bullying also has to agree. The delay may be caused by this person not agreeing. I have a friend who works for an agency which is also part of the civil service and he has told me that it takes ages for the service to find an independent mediator at a reasonable cost. Ask your union rep to find out if there is someone senior within your Agency that could mediate instead because waiting isnt helping you.

I can see why your employer is saying that you cannot return to work in a different section, your section needs you and it is more difficult for them to create a job for you to do in another section because this is what they would have to do.

To help you gain more confidence, ask for help from the union - you can even go and spend some time at one of their holiday places or even a place of recuperation, you get this as part of your membership - so ask for it. The more you can do to help yourself, then the more likely your employer is likely to help you. If you still insist on changing jobs there is nothing stopping you from logging onto the Civil Service Gateway and applying for any of the jobs there, they are more likely to look favourably on you as you are already a civil servant regardless of the agency for whom you work.

Say, in the future you decided to take a case to the employment tribunal, the fact that you have failed to follow procedure by not raising a formal grievance will most likely stand against you.

I know its difficult when you are in a stressful situation but you need to find some coping mechanisms to help you because you will get stress whatever job you do. I found that cleaning my rugs helped - I used to hang them over the washing line and beat the hell out of them, it was easy to imagine my boss' face in the centre of every single one - it might sound funny but it worked. As for my life now, yes it has been a struggle since redundancy but I am now on the up, as for my old boss well he has been demoted

The private sector is immensely difficult and many places don't have occupational health departments so it may be better to stay in the public sector but maybe a change of scene will do you good - so try for a university or college (www.jobs.ac.uk is the site to use to look for suitable jobs). Bear in mind though that the pay won't be so good and the pensions are often closed to new members.

I wish you luck for the future and hope that you learn some coping strategies and continue to get help from the union (you pay enough subs so use them as much as you can - even for training courses).
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Old 11-02-2009, 2:30 PM
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Presumably you have admin skills? Why not sign up to a couple of local temp agencies and repair your job record? Be honest about the situation and stress that it was as a result of the actual role and that you hadn't had any attendance issues prior to this situation.
Thanks to MSE, I am mortgage free!
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# 15
Arne
Old 11-03-2009, 12:37 PM
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Thank you everyone for your advice. I am pleased to report that I will be starting a new job in my home area in April. It is with a local small business.
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Old 11-03-2009, 12:45 PM
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That's great news - hope all goes well for you
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# 17
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Old 11-03-2009, 3:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arne View Post
Thank you everyone for your advice. I am pleased to report that I will be starting a new job in my home area in April. It is with a local small business.
Brilliant!
How did you explain your sickness? If you are comfortable about sharing it might help others in a similar position.
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# 18
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Old 12-03-2009, 3:20 PM
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Arne, congratulations about getting a new job. Hope all goes well and this is the beginning of a new start for you. I have also had depression in the past and am worried when I have to talk about it at interviews and put it on my application forms. I would like to say though that I may be starting a new job soon and I told them honestly about my depression and why and that I am now ready to commit again to a job.
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# 19
Arne
Old 13-03-2009, 11:57 AM
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I am really pleased and happy to be moving, my Mum has admitted she has had yet another fall when she was out walking so this will be a bit of a worry off my mind. There seems so much to get done for moving.

Because I am moving back to where I grew up people know me which helped. The business owners knew I had been off work and why and also that that was not normal for me. We have agreed on 2 trial periods. The first is to make sure I fit in and we all dont hate each other and if that works out I am on trial until October with regards to sickness.
They have a good induction proceedure to make sure all new staff learn what is expected of them.

I did do the mediation process with my boss and was due to start my phased return. I have had dreadful bosses in the past and coped fine but none like this one. The others struggle with him as well, but their jobs enable them to leave the office for short times. The temp has been upset by him on a few occasions when they were doing what they had been told to do but he had "forgotten" that he had said they were to do the task.

Anyway thanks again everyone.
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# 20
bambieyes
Old 13-03-2009, 12:20 PM
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well done and good luck in your new job
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