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I would like some advice on behalf of a relative please.

 

She has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers / dementia. She has been co-operating fully with her employer (a large retailer), for example going to an occupational health appointment.

 

The assessing "doctor" didn't have her notes beforehand, was really abrupt, derogatory and not listening to half of her answers / information. His report said she is a danger to herself and others, which we all strongly disagree with. (It is possibly due to her disclosing that she must be reassessed for her driving and may have her license taken away, but to my knowledge there is nothing she has done at work that proves her a danger at all.)

 

We were hoping for some kind of medical retirement (she's in her mid fifties) or some kind of dismissal on capability grounds which would attract some sort of payout.

 

They now claim they cannot provide a job for her and have "offered" her two options:

1. Move to another store for just 2 hours per day. Why they "can't give her a job" but then can give her a job only in another store for a few hours sounds very odd to me. Also a totally pointless exercise that nobody would take.

2. Dismissal - no compensation.

 

I believe she would be classed as having a disability under the Equality Act and this seems like they would be breaking the law. I feel that dismissal may be disability discrimination. They do not seem to have made any attempt whatsoever to provide reasonable adjustments. I can think of a couple of things that they could have tried.

 

In the meeting they started to bring up incidents from a year ago, such as she swore, a customer overhead and complained. That has *nothing* to do with her condition. They mentioned she forgot to put on safety equipment / misplaced her locker keys / forgot to clock in - all things I could see possible reasonable adjustments for (for instance, a "buddy" to help her remember things).

 

It seems very unfair after 25+ years of service, with an excellent record, they can just dismiss her with no consequences.

 

The union are involved and unhappy (but my experience is unions are pretty toothless) and she is going to speak to Alzheimers Scotland, but any advice would be appreciated.

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Ill Health retiral is usually linked to the pension scheme and it may be worth getting a view from the trustees.

 

https://www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk/about-pensions/retirement-choices/ill-health-retirement

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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They don't want to pay out for her early retirement.

Her best move would be to go to a private specialist and get a full report on what adjustments are needed to continue in her role as well as what she can and can't do.

Such report is undisputable unless the company gets another specialist to say exactly the opposite which is nearly impossible.

If the company doctor (they're all failed gp if you ask me) tries to dispute the report, ask for their id number and report them to the gmc.

I got a couple of them in a spot of bother in my days by doing that and their opinion changed immediately.

Good luck.

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is she a member of a company pension scheme? If so read the rules for ill health retirement adn go down that route if possible.

The requirements for a claim for discrimination are that the disability be permanent so yes, on the face of it there is a possibility of pursuing it this way. Now, an employer can dismiss on capability grounds if a worker's illness stops them performing their duties and no compensation would need to be paid. The wording of the law is "reasonable adjustments" so economics come into play

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You could pay for private specialist to suggest 'reasonable adjustments' but I wouldn't spend money on it at the moment as it seems you have suggestions for reasonable adjustments but haven't put them to the employer. Do that first.

 

Unfortunately it isn't true that if a doctor/consultant/OH specialist recommends a 'reasonable adjustment' the employer has to implement it, or can only not implement it if another doctor disagrees. It's up to the employer to decide whether the recommendation is reasonable in the context of that workplace. The doctor recommends, can't instruct it must be done. If you disagree with the employers decision you can challenge it in court and ultimately a judge decides what is a "reasonable adjustment", not a doctor.

 

Dismissing someone with (or without) a disability if they can no longer do their job isn't automatically illegal discrimination and wouldn't automatically entitle your relative to compensation.

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The scenario i was trying to explain is the very common 'specialist consultant says that working on a desk is 100% safe and possible, while the company doctor says exactly the opposite'

 

In that case, if for example (and for example only) there's a suitable and vacant desk position for the employee, the company would struggle a bit to prefer their own doctor opinion against that of a specialist.

 

You'll find that if you have a specialist report when you attend occupational health, the company doctor tends to agree with the report because stating the opposite could lead to sanctions from the gmc.

Edited by honeybee13
Paras
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You'll find that if you have a specialist report when you attend occupational health, the company doctor tends to agree with the report because stating the opposite could lead to sanctions from the gmc.

 

The "company doctor" - actually an independent medical practitioner that the company has referred you to - almost certainly will agree but not for that reason. GMC can't and won't sanction a doctor because they have a different opinion on 'reasonable adjustments' to the first doctor. Doctors have different opinions all the time. GMC doesn't sanction them because they don't agree.

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The "company doctor" - actually an independent medical practitioner that the company has referred you to - almost certainly will agree but not for that reason. GMC can't and won't sanction a doctor because they have a different opinion on 'reasonable adjustments' to the first doctor. Doctors have different opinions all the time. GMC doesn't sanction them because they don't agree.

 

Ethel, i speak for experience.

A company large enough to have an occupational health department employs their own doctors who are GPs.

They're paid by the company and they usually lean towards the decision that suits the company.

For example, someone on long term sick leave for back pain can be told that he's fit for duties by the company doctor and kind of "encouraged" to come back or else.

The same person with the same back pain, if the company wants him out, can be told that he's not fit for duties and won't be in the foreseeable future.

Employees in this sort of situation need to arm themselves with strict proof that they can or can't work by getting a specialist report.

If the specialist report states that the employee is fit for certain duties and there's a good chance of recovery, the company doctor would have some difficulties stating the opposite.

I have personally reported a company doctor to the gmc and this doctor, following investigation, received a warning.

He left the company soon after (he couldn't fulfil his biased duties anymore?)

Gmc takes individual reports very seriously and they investigate any concern thoroughly.

The pressing matter is if the employee is fit for duties.

If not, is there a suitable vacancy within the company that would allow them to continue working?

Is there any reasonable adjustment that the company could implement to let the employee continue working?

Then there's the matter about what's reasonable.

A more comfortable chair or a larger screen is reasonable by any standard, but employ another person to "shadow" the employee is not.

(yes, believe it or not, someone with learning difficulties requested this "adjustment" when i interviewed him, before he was even offered the job(?!?!?))

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Ethel, i speak for experience.

 

So do I.

 

A company large enough to have an occupational health department employs their own doctors who are GPs.

 

Very few companies have their own in-house OH department. Off hand I don't know of any but if some do it'd be restricted to a handful of the largest companies in the country. No one else would generate enough OH referrals a year to justify employing their own doctors. They'd refer to independent (private) OH companies. Nothing here to suggest OP's employer directly employs the doctor referred to in post #1.

 

But that's rather drifting from my point, which is simply that no doctor, whoever they work for, whoever pays them, can direct the employer to adopt any specific 'reasonable adjustments'. Doctors can only recommend, not decide. The employers management decide whether the recommended adjustment is reasonable for them. The employee can challenge the employers decision through the courts. In my experience doctors often make recommendations which are impractical. Probably because they don't have detailed knowledge of the workplace. Example. An OH Consultant recommended that my school deploy a science technician so that they only worked on the ground floor and didn't have to climb stairs. That was impossible because the schools science teaching laboratories were on the top floor. It would have required us to internally demolish the building and rebuild it. Not a "reasonable adjustment"

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