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delinquentwoody

Phased return problems

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Hi,I wil try to keep my question concise, as it would be easy for me to go into too much detail on this, but I would really appreciate any help anyone can offer regarding my partner's situation at work. I've looked around the internet but can't find an answer anywhere.

 

My partner has been off work for around 4 months on long term sick due to an operation on a slipped disc. Her employers have been very supportive during the time off and they have maintained regular contact on at least a weekly basis during this time.A phased return to work was agreed on reduced hours and alternate days, and necessary adjustments have been made in the workplace, and meetings have been had to agree everything.

 

My partner is still in an extreme amount of pain with her back, the doctors have said they can't improve her condition any more and it is just a case of managing the pain.

 

My partner had her first day back on Monday, and things went fine however in the final hour the pain was getting a bit bad, but she pulled herself through the shift.

 

Yesterday was an agreed day off, however the pain became extremely intense, alot worse than normal, bad enough that my partner considered going to A&E.She made an appointment for the next available one at the GP. The only appointment available was this afternoon (Wednesday) during what would have been her second shift back on her phased return (an 11 till 3 shift). My partner took the appointment as the pain was intense.

 

She rang work and asked if she would be allowed to leave an hour early unpaid to make this appointment, and if not she offered to start an hour early to leave an hour early. The employer told her to take the day off if she wasn't upto it and needed to see the doctor.

 

Now why have I gone into so much detail, this will become apparent.

 

Her employer has an absence policy of no more than 4 separate occurences or 4% absence is allowed in a financial year (September to September) before it rises to a sickness counselling, after this counselling any further instances rise to a disciplinary. My partner already had the counselling for her current absence, and has started the phased return knowing that she is allowed no more occurences of sickness until September.

 

Now my question is this. The day she has taken off today (Wednesday) on her phased return, her employers have told her is to be counted as a separate occurence of sickness and they are not linking it to the sickness she is currently on the phased return for (and still receiving SSP for).

 

Surely it should still be counted as the same occurence of sickness when she is still receiving SSP for it? And is it unreasonable to ask them to reduce the number of hours worked for the start of the phased return? It is my belief that as they are counting this as a separate occurence they will take her to disciplinary for this where they could potentially say she is unfit to do her job and get rid of her. My partner is itching to get back to her job - as bad as her back is, she hated being off work for so long and just wants to get back to it. Also, while I am here, I have one further question. My partner has qualified for a disabled Blue Badge, does this mean she now has to be recognised as disabled with regards to employment law, or would she need to be claiming DLA to be seen as disabled? And what further rights would this offer or should she be entitled to?

 

We are carefully documenting everything her work tell her.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope it makes sense, and I appreciate any comments and advice.

 

Mark

Edited by delinquentwoody

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I am confused how she is being paid SSP - you need to be off 3 days in a row for that and it sounds like she isn't.

 

This is the definition of disability under the Equality Act, blue badge has nothing to do with it

 

https://www.gov.uk/definition-of-disability-under-equality-act-2010

 

Has she seen occupational health? If so, did they suggest different trigger points for sickness absence as a reasonable adjustment?


Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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Thank you for the quick reply!

 

She has received SSP since the start of January when her full company sick pay went onto half company sick pay, this was topped up with SSP on top. SSP is still paid when on a phased return on days off - eg if a normal working week is Monday to Friday, phased return days are Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then SSP is still paid for Tuesday and Thursday as it is still the same sickness instance she is returning to work from.

 

Thanks for the info on disability - and I'll put it to her to suggest about different absence trigger points but I wouldn't hold out hope for that. I just think it's unfair for them to count it as a separate absence occurence during a phased return which she's still receiving SSP for.

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I think at this stage the main thing is the occ health prognosis. It needs to say she'll be able to come back to full duties ideally with a timescale which is short...


Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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The timescale for the phased return which the employers and the doctors have both agreed on is 8 weeks. We also have it in writing from the doctor, that he sees no reason with the adjustments made why she won't be fit to return to full time normal duties in this timescale. I think she just needs to have a meeting with them when she goes back on Friday to discuss that they may need to be a bit more flexible with her initially.

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I think she should keep herself safe and stick to the plan exactly even if that means A&E for checks on days off.


Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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