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Alchymist

Work Related Stress and Sick Pay.

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I wonder if anyone could advise me?

 

I have been working for my current employers for 22 months, and I have had a cardiac condition for five years, caused by a very serious illness. This condition can also mean that I tire more easily when I have a cold/flu and stomach bugs etc. I usually end up taking a couple of days sick leave in these situations, where my colleagues would choose to battle on. My employers were aware of my condition the day they employed me.

 

I have just returned to work after a month off with work related stress, diagnosed by my GP. The stress was caused by my current working conditions, volume of work and bad management. The company is aware of the issues at stake, and is aware I am not the only one affected. Although I am not the first to be signed-off as a result, I am the only one with underlying health issues and I have returned to work in a shorter timeframe than others.

 

The company operates a sick scheme, where employees are categorised according to the number of occasions they have been off sick during the previous 12 months. I am in the bottom category, for the reason given earlier in the post. (I have had a bad year for colds and stomach bugs, I am not the sort of person who would take a day off sick for the sake of it.) On returning to work it has transpired that I will only be receiving statutory sick pay, for the time I was off with work related stress. This will cause me financial hardship next month when the bills arrive. I was not aware of the sick scheme when I accepted the job, my attempts to gain information were met with 'the sick pay scheme is currently under review, so any information would be out of date by the time you start working for us'.

 

If I had had fewer colds and stomach bugs, or been irresponsible about my condition and dragged myself into work in a state of ill health, I would have received full pay for the time off -as I would be in a higher category

 

If I had joined the company before 2004, I could have as much sick leave as I want, and never have to worry about the financial consequences. There is a separate sick scheme for employees who joined before 2004.

 

I have been told that my condition is covered by the DDA. In light of this, can the company really push me to the point where I'm off sick with work related stress, and then tell me that I won't receive my full pay, putting me under further stress?

 

Incidentally, the company also operates a long service award scheme, which only applies to those employees who joined before 2004. That has recently been found to be age-discriminatory, on the basis that some employees are simply not old enough to have joined the company before 2004. I wonder if running two sick schemes is equally age-discriminatory?

Edited by Alchymist

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Northern Rock £437.19

 

One down and four to go........

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I think there are several issues being mixed together here.....

 

A company is not obliged to pay any sick pay above SSP unless it is part of your contract of employment.

 

The entitlement to sick pay is not normally affected by the cause of the illness. Providing a Doctor has certified you as sick, then you are sick. The fact that you, say, fell off an unsafe ladder at work as opposed to falling off your horse during a week's holiday is neither here nor there.

 

However, if they have caused your illness then you may have a valid claim for personal injury. If you were to win such a claim then damages would be awarded to compensate you. Any sick pay you have received may be deducted from this award.

 

I have no idea if having two sick pay schemes depending on start date is OK or not. My guess is that it is fine. After all, those who joined the company after that date (in theory at least) took this into account when deciding whether or not to accept the job!


PLEASE NOTE:

 

I limit myself to responding to threads where I feel I have enough knowledge to make a useful contribution. My advice (and indeed any advice on this type of forum) should only be seen as a pointer to something you may wish to investigate further. Never act on any forum advice without confirmation from an accountable source.

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Thanks for the reply, some interesting points there. I may well pursue the issue of personal injury -depending on the outcome of the independant medical. The comapny did not cause my cardiac condition, but they are definitely responsible for the work related stress. My tolerance for stress is lower because of my condition, which should not be a surprise to my employers, as they are aware of my condition.

 

A copy of the sick scheme was not provided at the time I accepted the job, my attempts to obtain a copy were met with the reply 'the scheme is under review at the moment'. Given my medical history, I would not have accepted the job, had I known the details of the scheme. As they say hindsight is 20/20, and I will be leaving the company as soon as a decent opportunity arises.

 

I suppose the crux of my original question is as follows. The new sick scheme is designed to prevent people from taking frequent sickleave, as a number of people on the old scheme take advantage. The more occasions you have off sick, the lower your category in the new scheme and thus your entitlement to sick pay is reduced.

 

There are cases, such as mine, where an individual is likely to have more instances of sick leave, as a result of a pre-existing medical condition. In cases where the pre-existing medical condition is covered by the Disability Discrimination Act, does the sick scheme therefore contravene the act? Clearly these individuals, are more likely to be in a lower category in the scheme and are therefore more likely to be financially disadvantaged by the scheme -is this acceptable under the DDA?


PPI successes to date:

 

Northern Rock £437.19

 

One down and four to go........

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Further information.

 

I have consulted a number of policy documents at work, including the 'wellness' policy. This states that I should take whatever steps are necessary to maintain good health. In my case, this means adequate rest when I am unwell. Therefore it seems to me that if I follow the wellness policy to the letter, I fall foul of the absence policy. If I try to improve my sick scheme category, by dragging myself into work when I should be resting -I fall foul of the wellness policy!

 

I can't win! This situation is really beginning to excacerbate my stress levels. Can anyone advise me?


PPI successes to date:

 

Northern Rock £437.19

 

One down and four to go........

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What exactly was the wording on your contract of employment about sickness absence and pay then?


If you feel I've helped then by all means click my star to the left...a simple "thank you" costs nothing! ;)

 

Restons MBNA -v- WelshMam

 

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The part most relevant to my situation reads;

 

"After 6 months, company sick pay will be paid during sickness absence in accordance to the applicable schedule, available from HR."

 

There is a lot of other stuff more relevant if the company doubts whether the absence is genuine, but mine was certified by my GP.

 

When I tried to obtain a copy of the 'applicable schedule' prior to signing my contract, nobody seemed to know which schedule was applicable!


PPI successes to date:

 

Northern Rock £437.19

 

One down and four to go........

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The part most relevant to my situation reads;

 

"After 6 months, company sick pay will be paid during sickness absence in accordance to the applicable schedule, available from HR."

 

There is a lot of other stuff more relevant if the company doubts whether the absence is genuine, but mine was certified by my GP.

 

When I tried to obtain a copy of the 'applicable schedule' prior to signing my contract, nobody seemed to know which schedule was applicable!

 

 

It's all rather vague. I would write to them asking for a copy of the schedule applicable at the time of your appointment and express disappointment at only receiving SSP for your recent absence and perhaps state that you feel mislead by the company as all attempts to obtain the sickness policy were thwarted and this may have influenced your decision to join or not join the company.

 

 

See what they say...doesn't sound a very pleasant place to work but new jobs aren't easy to come by at the moment.

 

Best of luck!! ;)


If you feel I've helped then by all means click my star to the left...a simple "thank you" costs nothing! ;)

 

Restons MBNA -v- WelshMam

 

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I have now had the independent medical required by my employer. The doctor who conducted the medical will be confirming that I am covered by the DDA for my cardiac condition, as without my medication it would progress to heart failure. Also, that this condition will increase my sensitivity to stress, and stress will in turn exacerbate the symptoms of my condition -so all looks good on the medical front.

 

With regards to my sick pay issue, I have consulted the Equality and Human Rights Commision. They agree that sick pay schemes such as the one my employer provides, can be considered discriminatory. The main reason for this is that an employee with a disability that causes occasional absences would drop down the categories, and exhaust their sick pay entitlement, more quickly than someone who wasn't disabled.

 

My employer is adamant that they have to treat all their employees equally, which is nonsense because they run two different sick schemes -so it already seems some are more equal than others in this case.

 

It seems that my next step is to write a formal request to my employer, for them to make a 'reasonable adjustment' to their absence policy, under the provisions of part 2 of the DDA. That would either be to record disability-related absences separately, or to allow me stay in category A of the sick scheme. The former being the most favourable and likely. This puts the onus on them to act, or justify their inaction.

 

So I guess my next question is, does anyone have any experience in requesting reasonable adjustments under the DDA?


PPI successes to date:

 

Northern Rock £437.19

 

One down and four to go........

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