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Informal Absence Review Meeting - Can I Refuse?

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Apologies if the answer is posted elsewhere, but i have spent the last 20 mins trying to find the answer without success.


My situation is I've been absent from work since March this year with depression / anxiety - this is the period in question.

My background is I've been with my current employer for the last 5 1/2 years, and developed anxiety/depression in the last 3 years resulting in approx 7 months absence in that time, excluding this current episode.


I've been updating my employer through my spouse regularly and providing absence certificates from my GP.

Recently I've had my initial consultation with a psychiatrist who will be referring me for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and has stated it would be a good few months before I will be able to return to work.

Both my GP and Psychiatrist have received this week a report request from the Occupational Health Department of my employer which i consented to.


Today I received a letter stating that my manager and her colleague will be visiting me on Thursday (6 days time) for an informal absence review meeting, stating they would like to talk to me about the benefit of keeping in touch, to gain a better understanding of my illness, and in any ways in which they can support me.


I have recently discussed with my GP that my manager may be requesting a meeting as this was indicated as a possibility to my spouse on the telephone from my manager, for which my GP advised to refuse as could be detrimental to my recovery.


The reasons i have been given for the meeting i would have though would have been covered in the report that i have agreed to with my GP and Psychiatrist.


Thus my question is can my employer take any action against me should i write a response to my manager refusing a meeting on the basis that it would be detrimental to my recovery as advised by my GP, and that any information they require i have consented to the company obtaining from my GP and Psychiatrist?


Many Thanks

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Is it maybe possible to contact your employer and say that 'at this moment your not refusing the meeting, but your GP has advised against it as it may exacerbate the anxiety.' Say that you feel it's important to follow the GP's advice because ultimately you want to return to work as quickly as possible, but say that you're more than happy to provide them with any GP reports throughout the treatment to keep them informed and upto date. It may just be that your employers are following Acas guidelines in trying to arrange this meeting to fulfill their duty of care. If you don't want the meeting then that would absolve them of this responsibility. Either way I would suggest communicating first to check the situation. Alternatively, you could contact Acas first and ask where you would stand if you did refuse. It's a situation that requires a certain delicate approach though. Although you may have the right to refuse (which I don't know sorry), if you do, there's always the possibility of them looking for business reasons that they can't hold your job open indefinitely.


I would learn what your rights are first of all so you know where you stand, but try communicating and being diplomatic about the situation before exercising any of them.

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Many thanks for taking the time to reply, it is most helpful.

The reason i don't want, or won't be able to have a meeting, is that any thought of social contact brings out my anxiety and usually leads to a panic attack.

This has lead me to have agoraphobic tendencies, and I'm about to start a change of medication which could have side effects of sedation and dizziness, thus i may not be fully aware of what I'm saying, or remember what has been said.

My wife will phone the ACAS helpline tomorrow and get their advice, further more my GP is going to include in my latest report the importance of not having meetings and the negative effects it could have, resulting to a further delay in my return to work.


In the back of my mind I'm worried they are trying to get rid of me, but seeing as my mental health issues only started during my 3rd year of employment, and that I'm now registered as having a disability, I'm hoping they may be looking at other areas of the business i may be able to work when i return. Though at this time I'm just not ready to think about returning to work.


Fingers crossed ACAS will be able to put my mind at ease, and thanks again.

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Not a problem at all. Hope everything works out for you.


Ask your therapist about mood gym aswell, I used it alongside cognitive therapy and found it very helpful. It's basically an online programme that gets you to alter your thought process positively and alot of therapists recommend it.

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