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  • FIRST POST
    • Nual
    • By Nual 24th Jul 17, 4:48 PM
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    Nual
    Suspension of sick pay
    • #1
    • 24th Jul 17, 4:48 PM
    Suspension of sick pay 24th Jul 17 at 4:48 PM
    Hello
    A friend of mine has been on sick leave with stress symptoms. He has provided sick notes and been assessed by Occupational Health as not fit to return to work. He has now received a letter saying that an investigation is being carried out in relation to allegations about the genuineness of his absence due to his social activities. A meeting has been called for 2 weeks time to determine if there are grounds for a disciplinary hearing. It also says that due to the nature of the allegations, sick pay will cease immediately.
    This is a public sector employer with thousands of employees. How can pay be suspended on the basis of a yet to be investigated allegation?
Page 2
    • TELLIT01
    • By TELLIT01 25th Jul 17, 8:09 AM
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    TELLIT01
    You live near me!
    Originally posted by sangie595
    West of England somewhere between Worcestershire and Somerset
    • FBaby
    • By FBaby 25th Jul 17, 9:57 AM
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    FBaby
    If you sign off sick with a painful bad back that prevents you from working, especially if it's a desk job, and then are seen playing rugby, then the evidence is pretty water tight.

    The problem with stress is that it is much more difficult to question and so much more open to being abused as a reason to be off for month with full pay.

    There is the argument, which you predictably put forward, that is that it is work that bring in the state of stress and that any activity that helps in reducing says level of stress is going to be positive therapy.

    Maybe their argument is going to be that with this level of engagement in activities aimed at reducing their stress levels, they should have been fit to come back to work sooner?

    Unfortunately, your friend is probably the one they've picked to show an example of the increasing number of people who use stress as an easy way to abuse the very generous public sector sick pay, and rightly so. If they've done nothing wrong, and indeed can defend themselves that they continue to be too stress to go back to work, then they have nothing to worry about.
    • TELLIT01
    • By TELLIT01 25th Jul 17, 11:41 AM
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    TELLIT01

    Unfortunately, your friend is probably the one they've picked to show an example of the increasing number of people who use stress as an easy way to abuse the very generous public sector sick pay, and rightly so. If they've done nothing wrong, and indeed can defend themselves that they continue to be too stress to go back to work, then they have nothing to worry about.
    Originally posted by FBaby
    Very, very unlikely that they are being picked on in order to make an example of them. There needs to be very strong evidence of some form or wrongdoing for a public sector organisation to take this sort of action. The fallout if they have got it wrong would be massive, and in all honesty, simply not worth the hassle.
    • andygb
    • By andygb 25th Jul 17, 12:38 PM
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    andygb
    Stress can be faked. Easily. I'd guess any regular on these boards could do a professional job of faking it without a second thought if they wanted to.
    Originally posted by sangie595
    I totally agree with this, but as someone who suffered from severe depression (side effect of another physical condition), I can tell the OP, that when I was ill, I didn't want to go out of the house or meet anyone. The last thing I wanted to do was socialise or go out and have fun/go on holiday. Being stressed/depressed puts you on edge nearly all the time.
    If the OP's friend is going out socialising, maybe away on holiday, then there is a possibility that he isn't at all stressed.
    Maybe he just needs to change jobs?
    • sangie595
    • By sangie595 25th Jul 17, 12:47 PM
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    sangie595
    I think there's a valid point in there. What someone describes as work related stress may not be the same thing as really being sick - more sick of work than anything! It may be quite genuine, but it isn't the same thing as being unable to work due to sickness.
    • Wookey
    • By Wookey 25th Jul 17, 1:00 PM
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    Wookey
    With social media evidence all it takes is one "work colleague" to tip of HR that someone may not be genuinely of with sick leave and with the ease of screen shots and forwarding such photos it's all to easy to get snared. I know of someone whose boss found out that they went of on holidays whilst claiming being unable to work due to being sick, the boss went to the airport to meet them coming of the plane.
    Norn Iron Club member No 353
    • Gavin83
    • By Gavin83 25th Jul 17, 2:10 PM
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    Gavin83
    I'm far from an expert on stress but I always thought holidays and socialising were considered good ways to reduce stress and therefore actively encouraged while on leave for stress related reasons? A couple of weeks on a sunny beach would do a lot to alliviate my stress!

    It could be they have strong evidence, it could be that HR have jumped the gun. Impossible to say without knowing what he put on Facebook. They wouldn't be the first HR department to get overzealous.

    However as others have said ultimately they don't believe him and that is a problem. I suspect there's a lot that hasn't been said here.

    I've known people who have taken genuine stress leave and others who are clearly taking the pee. What they do with their time off matters not. Has he actually got a real genuine reason for being stressed or is he milking it a little? It's amazing for example how many people need to go off on stress when they're in trouble at work.
    • sangie595
    • By sangie595 25th Jul 17, 2:15 PM
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    sangie595
    With social media evidence all it takes is one "work colleague" to tip of HR that someone may not be genuinely of with sick leave and with the ease of screen shots and forwarding such photos it's all to easy to get snared. I know of someone whose boss found out that they went of on holidays whilst claiming being unable to work due to being sick, the boss went to the airport to meet them coming of the plane.
    Originally posted by Wookey

    I keep telling people, and nobody listens, but I can confidently say that social media figures somewhere in about 80% of the cases that come across my desk now. For lay reps, the figure is even higher - a case which doesn't somehow involve social media is now very rare. And it is almost always a "friend" or a relative who has turned the person in. It always makes me laugh when people are being coy on here about what has happened to them, because employers really don't go searching for information the way people think. They don't need to because you've probably friended them somewhere already! By the time you get here, it's too late and they don't need to read what you say. Employers don't have time to scour websites on the off chance of recognising a particular employee,
    • k3lvc
    • By k3lvc 25th Jul 17, 2:20 PM
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    k3lvc
    I'm far from an expert on stress but I always thought holidays and socialising were considered good ways to reduce stress and therefore actively encouraged while on leave for stress related reasons? A couple of weeks on a sunny beach would do a lot to alliviate my stress!

    It could be they have strong evidence, it could be that HR have jumped the gun. Impossible to say without knowing what he put on Facebook. They wouldn't be the first HR department to get overzealous.

    However as others have said ultimately they don't believe him and that is a problem. I suspect there's a lot that hasn't been said here.

    I've known people who have taken genuine stress leave and others who are clearly taking the pee. What they do with their time off matters not. Has he actually got a real genuine reason for being stressed or is he milking it a little? It's amazing for example how many people need to go off on stress when they're in trouble at work.
    Originally posted by Gavin83
    I had a period of ansence for work related stress some years ago - I was supported heavily by Occupational Health much to the dismay of HR and was actually encouraged by them to take a holiday before returning to work (and to book a follow up break within 3 months of return to work). It triggered a whole load of guilt knowing that others would judge but was pre-empted in my return to work announcement and reasoning explained.


    That said I've since seen plenty who've played the stress card, refused the Occupational Health support and still managed a holiday during their month off
    • ScorpiondeRooftrouser
    • By ScorpiondeRooftrouser 25th Jul 17, 3:58 PM
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    ScorpiondeRooftrouser
    I used to manage this person and I do not believe he is faking the stress.He had a lot of shortcomings but was hardworking and very keen to do the right thing. Since I left he has been put into an impossible role which does not suit his skill set or personality.
    Originally posted by Nual
    Surely in this position you should tell the employer you can't do the job and then ask if they have something more suitable (presumably with lower pay) or find something elsewhere that you can manage. Not go off sick with stress.
    • TELLIT01
    • By TELLIT01 25th Jul 17, 5:53 PM
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    TELLIT01
    Surely in this position you should tell the employer you can't do the job and then ask if they have something more suitable (presumably with lower pay) or find something elsewhere that you can manage. Not go off sick with stress.
    Originally posted by ScorpiondeRooftrouser
    In the public sector that is not always an option, probably true of the private sector too. I know many people believe that Civil Servants have an easy life, but I can tell you from personal experience that is not true. I worked in the private sector most of my life and was never treated as badly as in the years I worked for DWP. Arbitrary decisions taken on high to increase workload to levels where it was impossible to do the job with any level of care or accuracy was the main problem. Some people, myself included, could adapt to the requirement of 'Get the work through and don't worry about accuracy' whilst others simply couldn't. One lady I worked with was off for a while with work related stress and she told me that she was physically sick as soon as she saw the building, when she attempted to return to work. She was an ex copper so not a person unused to stressful work.
    • sangie595
    • By sangie595 25th Jul 17, 6:15 PM
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    sangie595
    In the public sector that is not always an option, probably true of the private sector too. I know many people believe that Civil Servants have an easy life, but I can tell you from personal experience that is not true. I worked in the private sector most of my life and was never treated as badly as in the years I worked for DWP. Arbitrary decisions taken on high to increase workload to levels where it was impossible to do the job with any level of care or accuracy was the main problem. Some people, myself included, could adapt to the requirement of 'Get the work through and don't worry about accuracy' whilst others simply couldn't. One lady I worked with was off for a while with work related stress and she told me that she was physically sick as soon as she saw the building, when she attempted to return to work. She was an ex copper so not a person unused to stressful work.
    Originally posted by TELLIT01
    This is certainly true these days. Once upon a time, relocating public sector staff (assuming a level of flexibility on the part of the employee) was not at all difficult. But it is many years now since local authorities (which are my main area) have held many vacancies. Certain jobs - largely social workers - they cannot fill quickly enough. But that's because the jobs really are stressful. Most jobs, there's no movement. Cuts have reduced headcount, there's no promotion prospects so nobody is going anywhere, and natural wastage had been largely cut out by offers of voluntary redundancy and early retirement to avoid compulsory redundancies. And the jobs that went still have to be done, so the remaining staff pick up the slack. And I'm afraid that means a more general intolerance of people who don't pull their weight. And by that I don't mean those who take the proverbial, who never got as much tolerance as most people thought. I mean those who are really "just average". Which ought to be enough. Used to be enough. And with the pressures on local authorities, no longer is.

    I mean, the OP is damning with faint praise someone worse side they have taken! This person had their shortcomings (oh dear!), but they are hardworking and keen to please (even worse!). And this person hadn't "been put" in the wrong job - they have applied for it or been restructured into it, the latter being a euphemism for "we need to do more with less". Either way, not being suitable for the job was an option - but it would have been an option out the door.

    Local authorities no longer have the luxury of moving people, so it is do the job, find your own way out, or be managed out. They don't design jobs for individuals, they design jobs for service delivery. Just like any other employer.


    BTW - scary this, but I live nowhere near you! But there was a similar case of a police officer being sacked within the last several weeks here. Another sign of the times - police officers needed to rob the bank of England once to actually get sacked! If they got caught being naughty they got demoted or moved to a desk in the basement.
    • andygb
    • By andygb 25th Jul 17, 6:25 PM
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    andygb
    One lady I worked with was off for a while with work related stress and she told me that she was physically sick as soon as she saw the building, when she attempted to return to work. She was an ex copper so not a person unused to stressful work.
    Originally posted by TELLIT01
    A bit similar to my experience. Around eighteen years ago I was suffering from a medical condition which was yet to be diagnosed. I had been off with stress and was ready to make my return to work on the Monday. This was when I commuted to London (about 4 hours a day travelling), then caught the Circle Line to work. The first morning, I got off the tube a couple of hundred yards from work and couldn't face going in, so just walked around London for an entire day. The rest of the week, I spent doing laps of the Circle Line, just curled up in a corner seat for the day.
    I finally went in to work on the following Monday, and the predictable happened, the bullying started, increasing the workload beyond what was realistic, constant phone calls telling me to check my emails.
    On the Thursday, I just walked out at lunchtime, went home and contacted a local employment lawyer. I had kept emails and letters (on one day there were over 100 emails sent to me by various members of the team, each one demanding an immediate response).
    In the end it worked out OK for me, because the lawyer was excellent and the documented evidence against my colleagues was indefensible.
    All the while it was going on, I was a complete wreck.
    • LadyDee
    • By LadyDee 25th Jul 17, 6:27 PM
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    LadyDee
    The PC sacked a couple of weeks ago made the mistake of getting his photograph taken celebrating the win of a horse he part-owned. Checking back on his previous 'sick' days it was found that they just happened to coincide with other big race days where other horse(s) he part-owned were running!
    • Nual
    • By Nual 6th Dec 17, 5:07 PM
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    Nual
    The ex colleague was exonerated of all 6 charges at a formal disciplinary tribunal. He is back working at a lower grade post but very stressed and unhappy. Thousands of pounds have been wasted in pursuing these ridiculous accusations, not to mention the affect on his mental health. The standard of managers and HR is appalling.

    Does he have any options regarding compensation for what he and I believe was a response to him whistleblowing about an impossible job and the negative effect on vulnerable people?
    • sangie595
    • By sangie595 6th Dec 17, 6:16 PM
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    sangie595
    The ex colleague was exonerated of all 6 charges at a formal disciplinary tribunal. He is back working at a lower grade post but very stressed and unhappy. Thousands of pounds have been wasted in pursuing these ridiculous accusations, not to mention the affect on his mental health. The standard of managers and HR is appalling.

    Does he have any options regarding compensation for what he and I believe was a response to him whistleblowing about an impossible job and the negative effect on vulnerable people?
    Originally posted by Nual
    Highly unlikely. There was an allegation. There was a process. In this case the process worked - the allegation was disproven. So no detriment. And having an "impossible job" isn't a matter for a protected disclosure. If it were, millions of purple would be reporting them! I'm afraid of hrs unhappy, the answer needs to be, get another job.
    • kingfisherblue
    • By kingfisherblue 6th Dec 17, 6:22 PM
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    kingfisherblue
    (on one day there were over 100 emails sent to me by various members of the team, each one demanding an immediate response).
    Originally posted by andygb
    Just out of interest Andy, did you find that you couldn't deal with emails on your personal account at all? I was a founding member of a community group and had a similar experience a few years ago. It reached the stage where I couldn't open my emails, and had to ask my daughter to open them and check to see if there were any from certain people - I was a wreck. I decided to resign in the end, even though the group benefited my children. I just had to stop the demands.

    It took me a few weeks, but I managed to open my own emails again without the dread, but it has left a long term effect. I still don't like email communication.

    Apologies for going off topic.
    • xXMessedUpXx
    • By xXMessedUpXx 7th Dec 17, 12:26 AM
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    xXMessedUpXx
    I admit when i was off work from my last ob the last thing i wanted to do was leave the house and see poeple, partly because of my mental illness and partly because i was paranoid someone from work would see me and thibk i was fine to look at, like nothing was wrong. It was only with support from my psychiatrist and community psychiatric nurse that i was able to leave the house and socialise (not talking nights out more meeting people for a coffee kind of thing), they said i had to get past my paranoia of people seeing me and stop isolating myself .

    So on the one hand i can see where if you're stressed you might be social and it might be helpful to take a holiday. On the other if he's posted all of it on sicual media its going to go against him. I dont have anyone from work on social media, they are all blocked so they can;t see what i post (not that im hiding a wild life i just dont want to have to censor my life cos of people scrutinising my social media)
    "Life Is Like A Beautiful Melody Only The Lyrics Are Messed Up"
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    • Nual
    • By Nual 8th Dec 17, 5:06 PM
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    Nual
    How can you say there was no detriment? A man has been on the verge of a breakdown for months, forced to go through a procedure that should never have been allowed to go this far. The issue re the impossible job included far too few staff in the team who then went sick and people dying while waiting for a visit. This could well be a case of whistleblowing.

    There is a thread elsewhere on this forum suggesting that regular posters are very negative regarding workers rights and very pro HR/ management. That has been my experience with this thread. Most posters are saying suck it up, what can you expect, employer is doing the right thing etc - and quoting examples where people were found to be fraudulently claiming sick leave. Also posts about how he has no chance at the disciplinary hearing. Well it just shows doesn't it.
    • WestonDave
    • By WestonDave 8th Dec 17, 5:29 PM
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    WestonDave
    You could try speaking to a personal injury specialist if you think there is a real connection between their procedures and him becoming unwell, as there might be some compensation for that illness or any loss of earnings. That might cover that side of it and with PI Lawyers often doing free interviews would be a risk free initial option - they'd soon tell you if there was no realistic chance.


    Not sure there is much that can be done in terms of forcibly improving working conditions and the danger is that a successful compensation claim would just worsen things. I guess if it was serious enough publicity surrounding a successful claim might prompt a change of working practices.


    To be honest I don't think there is much going but a free interview with a solicitor might be worth a try on the off chance that with a full set of information (which understandably you aren't going to reveal here) they think there is something in this.
    Adventure before Dementia!
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