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About Alchymist

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  1. Thanks. I've just phoned the benefits enquiry line, but I'm unable to give them a clear picture of my situation. None of the conversations I've had with my employer have directly suggested my job is at risk, but then there's the issue of not having been paid anything for the month of June. I've tried to get an answer as to why this is the case and nothing has been forthcoming -they are aware of the situation this has placed me in. According to the HMRC, I should at least have received SSP and it's my employer's responsibility to pay me that. If my entitlement to SSP has run out (which by my calculations is not the case), I need an SSP1 form from my employer to claim ESA -which they haven't provided. It's the lack of clarity from my employers which is the crux of the issue, I simply don't know where I stand and they don't seem to want to tell me anything. They're also aware of just how stressed and anxious I am about this, and the potential impact that may have on my cardiac condition. If they've decided that I'm now surplus to requirements, and if that's the reason I haven't been paid, then the timings involved suggest they can only have made that (very sudden) decision in the absence of a medical opinion and purely on the basis that I'm having to wait longer than I originally anticipated for my treatment. That seems very harsh, as I've had this condition for 8 years and I disclosed it in full when I joined the company in 2010. It was previously managed with medication and it's only over the last 12 months that it's deteriorated to the point of needing surgical intervention. The surgery is expected to 'routine and without significant risk or complications' and I'm expected to make a full recovery. Ultimately, the delay may mean I'm only off for a month longer than I originally anticipated and they didn't have any issue with that projected return to work date.
  2. This situation is now dragging on interminably and I am at my wit's end following the events of the last few days! I'm still waiting for a date for my surgery, but I've had all the tests/scans and been told exactly what they plan to do and which surgeon will be performing the surgery -he's arguably the best in the world for the job too, so that much is very positive. Up until the beginning of last week, my employers had been reasonably sympathetic. They'd discounted my absences from last year, allowing the contractual sick pay 'clock' to start again from January. I was happy and reassured by this, as it meant that I would get full pay for most of June before going on to SSP -they also stated their intention to do this in writing which was doubly reassuring. At my last hospital appointment -on the 2nd May, I asked the consultant how long I would have to wait for my surgery and I was told it would be 4-6 weeks. I told my employers this in good faith, as they were keen to know the time frames involved and it was only to give them some idea as to when I would be back at work. Obviously, I've now waited longer than 6 weeks and I've contacted the PALS office at the hospital and my MP -as I'd not heard anything from the hospital and was struggling to contact anyone in the Cardiology department. That got things moving a little, but I was also told that my surgeon is out of the country until 19th July. My boss phoned me last Tuesday, to see how I was getting on and my employers attitude seems to have changed since I told them it would be at least 19th July before I have my operation and they seemed shocked. Last Tuesday was coincidentally (?) the June payroll deadline. I have not yet received any salary/SSP payment for June -no money at all and no explanation as to why this might be. My employers have now suddenly expressed an interest in contacting the hospital too. I'd previously given them the contact details of my 'nurse specialist' on three occasions, asking them to contact her (as she wished to speak to them about my condition) and they had failed to do so. I am absolutely beside myself now. I'm waiting for major cardiac surgery, which is stressful enough as it has a tendency to prey on the mind, my condition is such that I've been advised to avoid stress/anxiety and I've been able to manage the stress of the impending surgery by focusing on my recovery, getting back to work and getting my life back to normal. However, the lack of any salary/SSP payment for June has left me unable to service my outgoings (the biggest being rent and my IVA), which is tremendously worrying and has exacerbated the symptoms of my condition over the last few days. I'm worried that my employers are about to pull the rug out from under me, for no other reason than the length of time I'm having to wait for surgery. I now have no money to live on, no explanation as to why this is the case and the uncertainty surrounding my job has destroyed my strategy for coping with my medical situation. I'm at a very low ebb today. I've posted this in the hope of gaining some reassurance that there are things I can do to resolve this and because I need to feel I'm doing something.
  3. Time to bump this back to the top -as this has now become something of a saga. My cardiologist at my local hospital referred me to The Royal Brompton (after sitting on my notes for NINE weeks!) and I finally had an appointment there a couple of weeks ago. They confirmed that I would need an operation, but the risks are minimum and it is expected to be a 100% cure for my condition. One of the surgeons there is an expert is this situation and the possibility of a keyhole operation means that my recovery time could be minimal. They also confirmed the 'stress/anxiety' which my GP diagnosed last year was more likely to be the result of 'low cardiac output' meaning a reduced level of oxygen to the brain. There was nothing I could have done to mitigate the effects of this and the PIP my employers put me on certainly wouldn't have helped. Anyway, I'm currently signed off work and have been since January. I don't have a date for surgery, but I expect it to be in the next couple of months. I'm certainly not fit for work at the meantime. My concern now is that my contractual sick pay is limited and they've already started making noises about the fact that it will be running out soon. They're also quite concerned about the length of time this is taking, which I can understand -but the delays are beyond my control. If my GP had referred me to a cardiologist in the first instance, this might all be over now. My question is this; my contract was changed in January. There was a change to the legal entity employing me and the terms and conditions of the contract, including entitlement to sick pay were changed (this was increased). The sick pay entitlement works on a 12 month rolling period. Can I argue, given the change in contract, that my sick pay entitlement should start from zero again? This would buy me an extra 4 or 5 weeks and relieve me of a great deal of worry! Thanks.
  4. There have been some significant developments in this situation now. It seems the initial diagnosis of anxiety/depression was wrong. The opinion of my local cardiologist is that my underlying cardiac condition has deteriorated significantly, I now been referred to another hospital where I will very probably be having major heart surgery. The good news for me is that this should solve the problem and my employers are being more sensitive and considerate. It shouldn't matter that the condition is physical rather than psychological -but clearly it does to them. Occupational health are now heavily involved and have insisted that I only work half-days. They've also precluded me from being involved in any work which can be remotely regarded as 'stressful' -until I've had the surgery and recovered. My previous grievance was rejected and my employers have made no apology for their treatment of me up until now. All absences relating to my cardiac condition have now been recorded separately, though they are still being subject to the application of the Bradford Factor -albeit with a higher threshold. This means I now have two Bradford factors on my record, one for my cardiac condition and one for all other absence -so my request for reasonable adjustment has been partly met. My employers are being very cautious in their dealings with me now, recording everything, etc. -so I have got some resolution to the situation, it's going to be interesting to see how the situation develops in the future!
  5. Having previously gained some sound advice here for my own situation. I'm coming back on behalf of a friend in need. He's been struggling with a work issue for some time, but being from a different cultural background -his pride has allowed him to leave it late to seek help. He's working for a company I have some experience of and he's been there for over 4 years. Over the last couple of years, he has lost his mother to illness, his wife has had a health scare and they have also had their first child. During this time his performance at work has suffered and he has been subject to a performance improvement plan. His failure to meet the requirements of the plan have resulted in him being subject to a final written warning. This was the straw that broke the camels back, and he's now into his second month of sick leave. His employers have been aware of his personal issues, but are refusing to take them into consideration with respect to his performance -on the basis that he didn't officially ask for help. Surely they could be considered to have had reasonable knowledge? After presenting them with his second, month-long sick note note he's been told he has no future with the company. Could be victimisation, given their awareness of his fragile state of mind? He wants to resign, but that would leave him with no income and assuming he could find another job -he's probably not in the right frame of mind to make a go of it anyway. His doctor has provided him with counselling, which he is undergoing. Both his doctor and the company's own occupational helth advisor have stated he could return to work on three hours a day and then try to build it up from there. The company have refused to entertain this suggestion! Does anyone have any thoughts on this? I suspect, with the right advice, his situation could be better than he thinks -but my knowledge is limited to my own situation, so I'm not sure ...
  6. I have a grievance hearing tomorrow, with a manager other than my own. This is someone I have a fairly easy working relationship with, which could be beneficial to my cause -but my inner skeptic thinks my employers may be trying to 'disarm' me! I've never done this before, is there anything I need to bear in mind for the hearing?
  7. In an 'exciting' new development, I was supposed to returning to work today -but ended up going to the hospital instead. I've had a variety of tests and have a cardiology appointment in about 4 weeks. There doesn't seem to be anything desperately wrong and my doctor would prefer my employers to 'get their house order' rather than sign me off. I think they may be beginning to see the gravity of the situation ...
  8. The performance improvement plan involves me planning my day to day workload with my manager and he decides whether I'm doing enough. There's currently no managerial scope to the role, they've assumed that I can't cope with that while I'm suffering from anxiety. I feel that in order for the PIP to be fit for purpose, it should directly address the performance issues highlighted in my mid year review -this isn't doing that. I've proposed I should have the chance to work with a mentor and attend at least one leadership training course. My doctor's original fit note stated I would only be fit to work if I had support with my managerial skills -this has not been addressed. My current fit note states I'm unfit to work due to work related stress (as the original fit note did) this one also lists side effects from the initiation of medication for work related stress. The other thread was started in error -I meant to post a reply to this one!
  9. Something else has occurred to me regarding the conduct of my manager during investigatory/disciplinary meeting last Friday. The meeting was concerned with two days sick I took a couple of weeks ago to shake off a severe cold. When questioned about the reasons for my absence, I explained the following; my heart condition means that I have to take measures to avoid chest infections. I have annual flu jabs and pneumonia vaccinations to help prevent those, but in the case of colds a couple of days rest tends to prevent them becoming anything sinister. I have been advised to do this by a number of doctors. My manager then told me 'I could not abdicate my responsibility for this absence because of my condition, I should have been aware I was getting a cold and warned him beforehand'. He added he was very disappointed and told me I would be getting the written warning. I feel at very least the meeting should have been adjourned so that a professional opinion could have been sought before deciding the outcome. The decision had clearly been made beforehand, as my manager had implied as much when he handed me the invitation to the meeting. In dismissing my explanation, effectively as an excuse, I think they may have acted unlawfully (according to the Equality Act 2010) -what do you think?
  10. Not sure about the appeal, as I haven't asked -I have indicated that I'm not happy with the situation and that is a matter of record. I've never been appointed a mentor or another manager to learn from. I've been asking for support since January, my manager told me my 'poor managerial performance' was an issue in May/June -around the time I informed him my stress levels were creeping up. I've never seen a copy of the employee handbook and can't be sure whether such a thing exists. I don't know what constitutes the need to be put on a PIP -the appraisal system seems very subjective. I have seen a job description. They were aware when they employed me that I 'didn't tick all the boxes' but informed me they would give me the support in the areas where I lacked experience.
  11. Further to my earlier post regarding disciplinary action due to disability related absence -I have another question; Another catalyst in my work related stress issue was a poor mid-year review, when I graded as 'performance below expectations'. The poor performance was focussed very much on my managerial skills rather than my technical ability. I received a lot of positive feedback for that side of my role, though the 'leadership weaknesses' have somewhat hindered my overall performance and I freely admit that. I have never received ANY training in leadership skills during my time with the company and have no such previous experience. I have asked for this several times and been told I don't/shouldn't need it. I spent my first three and a half months with the company without access to a computer, having to negotiate time on colleagues' machines. I spent 6 weeks 'working from home' (Feb/Mar) with a broken foot. I presented myself for work, but no ground floor offices could be made available, so the HS manager insisted I should work from home on health and safety grounds. My manager frequently refers to this as 'time away from the business'. Half of my team of two people has been away on long term sick leave for most of my time with the company and I have been denied a replacement to help with the workload. I have a insufficient amount of equipment to perform the work required of me. I was only able to deliver a recent project thanks to a supplier loaning a piece of equipemnt on trial. Whilst my performance has not been great, there are a number of mitigating circumstances. I have been placed on a performance improvement plan which I feel addresses NONE of the issues I feel are critical to my performance. It simply focusses on my day to day work load and puts the entire blame for shortcomings in my performance on my 'inability to manage myself'. When I've shown I can do that, I can have my other responsibilities back! I have protested that this process is not fit for purpose, that I find it is exacerbating my stress levels. My views on how it could be improved, from a point of view of effectiveness and to make it less stressful for me are being ignored. I'm just not being listened to. Could this be interpreted as harrassment?
  12. Another question regarding investigatory and disciplinary meeting. Is it okay for these to be rolled into one meeting? My research suggests that a investigatory meeting should be held first, the information taken away and considered -then a disciplinary hearing held on a different day with adequate notice. Both of my warnings have been communicated to me in a meeting which I was led to believe was investigatory -in fact I got the distinct impression my employer's position had already been decided and no evidence which I produced was going to change it! Should I be presented with any evidence of a verbal warning to sign as my acceptance of the warning? I was given the verbal warning in August and told I would receive something along those lines, but nothing has been forthcoming. They have then proceeded to the 1st written warning (last Friday) which I yet to receive evidence of. (As I am now signed off it may have to wait for my return to work.) It just strikes me as a bit of a stitch up when they can turn up at the investigatory meeting and tell me I'm going to get a 1st written warning and dismiss any explanations on the spot. Then tell me another meeting has been arranged for a seperate incidence of absence and tell me that meeting will probably end in final written warning.
  13. I'm not adverse to a fight if I need to have one. As for now, they have to justify the the decisions I've asked them to make -in writing. I've also asked them to demonstrate that their actions are proportionate to a legitimate aim, i.e., using a punitive disciplinary process, which is exacerbating my anxiety levels, as a means to reducing my absence due to anxiety. My health situation was confirmed to them some weeks ago by their Occ Health advisor, so they are 'on notice' that I do have a problem. I'm eagerly awaiting their response -in the mean time I get a few days respite, a few decent night's sleep and the opportunity to plan my strategy!
  14. In a new development, I had to visit my doctor this morning. I've barely slept since being issued with the 1st written warning on Friday and now feel very run down, jittery and am experiencing palpitations. The palpitations are obviously alarming as I have a heart condition. My doctor has signed me off for a week and given me a week's supply of Zopiclone to help me sleep. From the health perspective this is becoming a serious issue for me, but my emloyers don't seem able to see beyond the attendance/performance aspect of this. I have put in a formal written request for reasonable adjustments, asking that any absences which may be considered to be disability-related should be recorded seperately and not used for calculating my Bradford Score. I've also formally asked for my Bradford Score to be recalculated appropriately and any disciplinary actions which are subsequently inapplicable to be rescinded in writing. I've also made it clear that I feel their current treatment of me is worsening my condition, and therefore could be in breach of their duty of care under the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act. I've added that they cannot abdicate that duty of care just because they are following a policy and no harm is intended. I don't know how far this will get me, but I hope they are at least a little worried now. If nothing else it might just get me some more sensitive and dignified treatment.
  15. I have a question on a related issue, with respect to the performance improvement plan my employers have placed me on. This requires me to have daily meetings with my manager to review how much work I am doing and is recognised within the business as a potential route to dismissal should I fail to perform to a 'satisfactory' level. In my current situation, I would prefer to take time off sick to recover from my stress/anxiety and get my physical health back on an even keel. However, the disciplinary process invoked through the absence management procedure demands that I present myself for work, whether I'm fit to be there or not. In my current state of mind I find it impossible to concentrate on my work and perform at any sort of satisfactory level. It seems that my employers have me trapped in between the proverbial rock and a hard place! As my employers expect me to present myself for work, can I reasonably refuse to present myself for performance based assessment? I believe that any such judgement would be unfair due to my current level of performance not being representative of my capabilities for reasons which are beyond my control.
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