Compassionate leave - employee lying

I manage a busy team. One staff member has been granted a lot of compassionate leave as he has a disabled child who is very ill. He recently took a lot of time off to care for a very sick relative in hospital as the usual carer had Covid. 
All of this has been paid time off. When I ask him to make up some time or take back work the rest of the team took on for him, I get multiple sob stories about why he can’t. He cries and the meeting has to be abandoned.
He’s not particularly competent at work. Small things are now starting to come out as lies.
I am now starting to suspect he has been lying or exaggerating about the big things. I don’t doubt his son is very ill, but I am not sure how involved he is in his sons life 24/7.

I need to address this quickly as it’s really affecting team morale.
We are all very sympathetic to his personal problems but he still needs to do the basics at work. He’s gradually achieving a status of full time pay and very little responsibility and almost zero deliverables. I have let the rest of the team down by not getting him to take on the basics deliverables of his job spec.
I am worried I’ve been weak and I have been blinded by the dramatic and detailed sob-stories so I’ve not noticed he’s been lying.
My question is:
can I retrospectively ask him to provide proof of the following, and am I breaking any employment laws in doing so?
1. to prove his sons hospital appointments by providing copies of letters or confirmation texts? Personal info redacted. He has paid time off for every single one. They all last a full day.
2. to prove he did move house (mortgage or rental agreement) when he says he did? He got paid time off due to adjustments he had to make for his child, and carefully overseeing the move of expensive medical equipment.
3. to prove he does live with his child at least some of the week (I suspect his ex has full time carer responsibility). He regularly takes paid time off to care for his son. It can last for days.

I can’t do anything to ask for proof of the elderly relative, I don’t think. He was in hospital and the employee claims he had to sleep in the chair next to the bed all week because of the relative’s severe dementia, lashing out at nurses, but I’m not sure this could be proven.
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  • McKneff
    McKneff Posts: 38,807
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    Why is he being paid. Is it in his contract
    make the most of it, we are only here for the weekend.
    and we will never, ever return.
  • Undervalued
    Undervalued Posts: 8,805
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    edited 11 November 2023 at 12:29PM
    I manage a busy team. One staff member has been granted a lot of compassionate leave as he has a disabled child who is very ill. He recently took a lot of time off to care for a very sick relative in hospital as the usual carer had Covid. 
    All of this has been paid time off. When I ask him to make up some time or take back work the rest of the team took on for him, I get multiple sob stories about why he can’t. He cries and the meeting has to be abandoned.
    He’s not particularly competent at work. Small things are now starting to come out as lies.
    I am now starting to suspect he has been lying or exaggerating about the big things. I don’t doubt his son is very ill, but I am not sure how involved he is in his sons life 24/7.

    I need to address this quickly as it’s really affecting team morale.
    We are all very sympathetic to his personal problems but he still needs to do the basics at work. He’s gradually achieving a status of full time pay and very little responsibility and almost zero deliverables. I have let the rest of the team down by not getting him to take on the basics deliverables of his job spec.
    I am worried I’ve been weak and I have been blinded by the dramatic and detailed sob-stories so I’ve not noticed he’s been lying.
    My question is:
    can I retrospectively ask him to provide proof of the following, and am I breaking any employment laws in doing so?
    1. to prove his sons hospital appointments by providing copies of letters or confirmation texts? Personal info redacted. He has paid time off for every single one. They all last a full day.
    2. to prove he did move house (mortgage or rental agreement) when he says he did? He got paid time off due to adjustments he had to make for his child, and carefully overseeing the move of expensive medical equipment.
    3. to prove he does live with his child at least some of the week (I suspect his ex has full time carer responsibility). He regularly takes paid time off to care for his son. It can last for days.

    I can’t do anything to ask for proof of the elderly relative, I don’t think. He was in hospital and the employee claims he had to sleep in the chair next to the bed all week because of the relative’s severe dementia, lashing out at nurses, but I’m not sure this could be proven.
    People are often surprised to learn that there is no legal entitlement to any paid compassionate leave! Obviously it would be a heartless employer that doesn't allow at least some and there may indeed be a contractual entitlement depending on the employee's contract and the firm's normal policy.

    The only legal entitlement is to "short" (which is undefined) periods of unpaid leave to provide care to somebody who reasonably depends on the employee. Normally a child or close relative but can in some circumstances be a friend.

    The normal interpretation of "short" is time for an immediate emergency and to arrange for care, not to provide it themselves for more than a day or two.

    However, although it sounds heartless, somebody who is in hospital is being cared for so sitting at their bedside doesn't qualify!

    Also, particularly relevant with a child with two parents, any such leave should be shared equally between the two parents and not always taken by the lower earner.
  • TELLIT01
    TELLIT01 Posts: 16,241
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    Regarding compassionate leave.  When my brother died, totally unexpectedly, I was given one week paid compassionate leave, beyond that I either had to get a note from my GP stating I was not fit to return to work.  The alternative was to use up my annual leave or take unpaid leave.
  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 9,238
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    Large employers are sometimes more generous in their policies.  My last full time employment was with a company that gave full pay for the first 6 months off sick, half pay for the following 6.  Compassion leave was significantly less generous but people would get signed off for stress/depression etc after that ended.  

    I would suggest having a document ready to read in a meeting with the employee.  Reading a document is a bit cold but that might help keep things less emotional.  It also allows the meeting to be stopped and restarted should there be sobbing etc.  I suggest you have someone to scribe/witness in the meeting and perhaps have an HR rep there as well.  He may want to bring someone to support him, another colleague or a union rep perhaps.  

    Outline that you think you have been generous so far but due to numerous factors including his lack of commitment to his job you need to be stricter to ensure the best working for the team and company.  Say that in future any time off for appointments will only be agreed if proof from the doctor/hospital is provided.  Time can be booked from holidays or be unpaid otherwise.  Prior notice must be given so you can ensure that his work is covered by others in the team. 

    Make a gentle suggestion that he might want to consider a sabbatical if he has a lot of things to sort out.  Point out what this would mean with regards to pay and benefits (i.e. no pay, perhaps no benefits, time doesn't count towards pension etc).  Perhaps this could be parental leave (no pay but still getting most benefits) as per government guidelines.  Unpaid parental leave: Overview - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

    Good luck.  I really saw how destructive this is to a team at my last employer so fully have sympathy for your situation.  Sadly some people have very complicated lives and even more sadly some people take advantage and play at this because they are basically self centred.
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”
  • Andy_L
    Andy_L Posts: 12,737
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    Does the buck stop with you of are there your manager or a HR dept you can get involved? 
  • Hoenir
    Hoenir Posts: 1,161
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    Notify the employee that all future time off for caring duties will be unpaid leave. Explain why. 

    Tell the employee that the intention is for them to placed on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). Lack of discernible output. 

    Have the meeting minuted and provide a copy to the employee afterwards. 

    Do you have access to HR resources?  







  • I agree with @Hoenir's suggestions above.  I would prepare a graph or spreadsheet for the meeting to demonstrate how much time they have taken off vs contracted hours.  Add in personal sick leave and holiday and it should tell quite a story.  The points you need to get across are that compassionate leave is discretionary and that if every other employee did the same, you would go out of business.

    Unfortunately I once dealt with a similar situation although I think the employee in question was just partying too hard in his own time and using work time to recover.  As soon as HR and I started to take an interest in his repeated absences he found another job and left.
  • thanks all for the input.
    I do have a supportive line manager above me. I also have HR support. We have only just informed HR there is a problem.
    there’s a lot of trust in the team as a whole and we work hard. we almost all WFH 100%. This guy has taken advantage of that. He knows we are a busy team and he can get away with passing off work to us if he cites his son’s illness. 
    I am going to tell my line manager I am struggling to manage this guy on shaky foundations. I cannot tell what is a lie and what is the truth. He regularly lies about where data has come from, or pretends he knows how to do something when he doesn’t.
    If it is legal to do so, I need to know the time off he has had to date was legitimate. If HR can request retrospective documents and he can produce them I feel I can help him with a PIP. If he can’t prove hospital appointments or a house move then I feel I can’t manage him as I cannot cure a compulsive liar with a PIP.
  • prettyandfluffy
    prettyandfluffy Posts: 637
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    edited 11 November 2023 at 5:26PM
    I think by making it clear to him that all future absences have to be evidence-based and evidence submitted in advance wherever possible, it will be a wake-up call.  Check with HR but you may be able to make any future unapproved or unsubstantiated absences on a "without pay" basis.
  • HampshireH
    HampshireH Posts: 4,395
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    edited 11 November 2023 at 7:50PM
    Your HR team to review the policy on compassionate leave. It sounds like it's designed to be taken advantage of.

    Our policy is close relevative is a couple of days but compassionate leave is for a death and not anything else. It definitely isn't designed for sick children's, uncles, grandparents or people in hospital who have a full complement of NHS staff trained to care for them.

    If he isn't performing can you not performance mamage him. Crying in a meeting is not a reason to end them. It's an excuse he knows gets him out of a difficult conversation.

    Does he have objectives? Presumably they aren't being met and this is the easiest way to manage him. What is your process around performance management? 

    Don't PIP him on being a compulsive liar PIP him on not working his hours, not achieving his targets, not taking ownership of his workload/cases or whatever it is he does. But you need robust policies to support what you do when he fails the PIP.

    A good HR team would have raised concerns long before now about the management of this person with so many unproductive days being paid.

    If you all work from home introduce compulsory desk days for all staff. 

    I think you're on shaky ground asking him to prove stuff you have already approved. Your stance needs to be going forward and applied to all staff

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