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    • Thanks DX.  I've ploughed through the pages and dug out what I feel are the relevant ones. Obviously, some of these are duplicates of what I've put up before.  Anyway, I would be hugely grateful if someone can look over and advise. Reading though other posts and on other cases that I've had help with from here, I don't think they have much of a case - given the weakness of much of their "evidence" - but obviously I would be grateful for some expert advice from the helpful souls on here.    Thank you.    B   Witness Oct19_redacted.pdf
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PerceptionReality

I work for an employer who bullies staff if they need to be off sick

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I work in a leisure facility and the nature of my job is very physical. I have an ongoing problem with my back which has flared up again suddenly. It’s likely to do with my spine rather than muscular. I had to call in sick on Sunday and was told I couldn’t phone in sick today because they were too busy. I basically said tough I’m not fit to work... this happens all the time. To the extent that other employees allow themselves to be bullied into work when ill and end up vomiting at work. Until now I have never needed to be off sick so it hasn’t come up.

 

There are also staff who are on light duties due to injury who are bullied to do tasks that the doctor has advised against.

 

There are other issues as well such as staff being screamed at if they have any grievances and told they will be removed from the premises if they have a problem. This did not involve me.

 

So far I have not had any cross words with management. On Sunday I was in such pain that I went to the out of hours GP and was prescribed strong painkillers which unfortunately aren’t working.

 

I am struggling to even get myself dressed and can’t even drive, but I keep getting people at work suggesting I should come in ‘just for this’ ‘just for that’. They don’t seem to care that I should be able to self certify for 7 days.

 

Today I am seeing my own GP because I’m not sleeping well due to the pain and it doesn’t feel like it’s healing. 

 

How can I protect myself in this situation? When I call in sick I get told ‘oh X will probably ring you later to have a discussion’ as if I should be afraid!

 

Any advice?

 

 

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Somebody will come along with better expertise – but if you are receiving this sort of treatment over the telephone then you should certainly have installed a call recorder and be gathering all of the information/evidence because it is extremely important for you. Read our customer services guide and implement the advice there.

Secondly, start keeping a very detailed log of every incident that occurs including verbatim quotes – who said what to who and when. Make sure any evidence you gather is taken off the premises. If you are able to get the names telephone numbers et cetera of your work colleagues who might be similarly affected then do so that probably you shouldn't discuss any of this with them at work because you never know you can trust when the chips are down.

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Thanks for your reply. Yes I have installed an app to record telephone calls. But do I have to tell them the call is being recorded?

 

I have only worked there for 6 months so they can get rid of me for any reason but at the end of the day I can’t work and if I could be there I would be. 

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Posted (edited)

This won't be a popular reply, and it isn't what you want to hear....

 

There is absolutely nothing to be done here, so find another job. They won't change as employers and they don't have to! People vastly overstate the "protections" they have. There is only one protection in these circumstances - worker power. You have none, obviously, or you wouldn't be asking this here. In the absence of that, the answer is...

 

Employers employ people to be at work and productive, not to be off sick. You certainly can go off sick - providing you follow the sickness absence reporting procedures. There is nothing, however, that says an employer can't "request" that you attend work even though you say you are not fit to do so. Whether you are fit to work is a matter for you (and your doctor) to decide. Whether the employer sacks you for being off sick is a matter for them to decide. They can dismiss people who are off sick. Easily. Especially in the first two years of employment, but it's relatively easy after that too. 

 

There is also no law against "bullying" in the workplace, although I regret to inform  you that management not agreeing with employees or asking them to attend work is not classified as bullying. What you are failing to appreciate, and I'm not saying this is right, simply that it is a fact, is that you have an entitlement to self- certify, but that is not the same thing as a "right to be off sick" or a "right not to have that sickness questioned". There is no "right to be off sick", and employers actually do have a right to question your self-certification (and, indeed, doctors fit notes!). 

 

Now don't assume that any of the above means I agree with the employers actions. I don't. But there is nothing that you can do to protect yourself, which is what you asked. Even if your condition amounted to a disability - and to be clear, it does not - then the so called protections are very limited and very weak. 

 

All you can do is ensure that you follow all absence reporting procedures. But in the end, those are irrelevant. The employer can sack you. Full stop. And they can question your fitness / unfairness for work. All you can do is say that you aren't fit for any work and can't come in. 

 

You may record anything you like for personal use, provided it is not shared with a third party. It won't be - absolutely nothing you have described here is remotely unlawful, so it will be evidence of absolutely nothing.

 

Sorry, but the best advice (after you should all unionise, but I doubt you'll all do that) is find a better job. 

Edited by sangie5952
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No you don't need to give a warning of recording if it is for your own use.

And to sangie5952 , who is much more experienced in these things and me – what about constructive dismissal? And also do we know how long the OP has been in their employment


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1 minute ago, BankFodder said:

No you don't need to give a warning of recording if it is for your own use.

And to sangie5952 , who is much more experienced in these things and me – what about constructive dismissal? And also do we know how long the OP has been in their employment

Yes - they said only six months. But even at two years, people can easily be dismissed for sickness absence- the employer only had to be a little more careful. 

 

Constructive unfair dismissal also requires two years, needs someone to resign and needs a very significant breach of contract (plus other things) - I never recommend it unless the most extreme of circumstances because almost nobody wins it. But it isn't relevant here.

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7 minutes ago, sangie5952 said:

This won't be a popular reply, and it isn't what you want to hear....

 

There is absolutely nothing to be done here, so find another job. They won't change as employers and they don't have to! People vastly overstate the "protections" they have. There is only one protection in these circumstances - worker power. You have none, obviously, or you wouldn't be asking this here. In the absence of that, the answer is...

 

Employers employ people to be at work and productive, not to be off sick. You certainly can go off sick - providing you follow the sickness absence reporting procedures. There is nothing, however, that says an employer can't "request" that you attend work even though you say you are not fit to do so. Whether you are fit to work is a matter for you (and your doctor) to decide. Whether the employer sacks you for being off sick is a matter for them to decide. They can dismiss people who are off sick. Easily. Especially in the first two years of employment, but it's relatively easy after that too. 

 

There is also no law against "bullying" in the workplace, although I regret to inform  you that management not agreeing with employees or asking them to attend work is not classified as bullying. What you are failing to appreciate, and I'm not saying this is right, simply that it is a fact, is that you have an entitlement to self- certify, but that is not the same thing as a "right to be off sick" or a "right not to have that sickness questioned". There is no "right to be off sick", and employers actually do have a right to question your self-certification (and, indeed, doctors fit notes!). 

 

Now don't assume that any of the above means I agree with the employers actions. I don't. But there is nothing that you can do to protect yourself, which is what you asked. Even if your condition amounted to a disability - and to be clear, it does not - then the so called protections are very limited and very weak. 

 

All you can do is ensure that you follow all absence reporting procedures. But in the end, those are irrelevant. The employer can sack you. Full stop. And they can question your fitness / unfairness for work. All you can do is say that you aren't fit for any work and can't come in. 

 

You may record anything you like for personal use, provided it is not shared with a third party. It won't be - absolutely nothing you have described here is remotely unlawful, so it will be evidence of absolutely nothing.

 

Sorry, but the best advice (after you should all unionise, but I doubt you'll all do that) is find a better job. 

Yes that’s pretty much what I expected the advice to be to be honest! If they decide to sack me there is nothing that I can do about it I know this. But I feel that if I keep them informed of my condition daily I don’t have to answer the phone to them any more that day, no? They are extremely short staffed (I wonder why) and I know they do like my work. 

 

Im frustrated with myself for allowing my manager to persuade me to stay 🤦🏻‍♀️ I actually secured two other jobs elsewhere a few weeks ago- bad decision on my part to be persuaded to stay.

 

Id always be reluctant to take action against an employer myself because it makes you less employable in the future.

 

i do have a disability in that I’m autistic so phone calls and questioning of my integrity are more stressful for me than average.

 

At this point looking for another job probably isn’t an option whilst I’m injured is it?

 

I agree they won’t change. They have been caught not paying people’s pensions also and refuse to talk about it.

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I didn't read it carefully enough. I hadn't picked up on the six months.

Thanks


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I think it is bullying if someone calls in sick and is told they are not allowed to as employees are entitled to take sick leave if they aren’t fit for work. Of course you can’t control the employers response to that but still...

 

what happens is that people come to work I’ll and vomit down the sink halfway through a treatment. 

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If the company isn't passing pension contributions to the pension provider I think you can report them, although don't quote me. You could have a look online about that although I realise your main priority is about the sickness issue.

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Sorry, one thing I forgot to clarify was that when I said how do I protect myself I meant how do I handle this situation in a way that doesn’t ruin my employment prospects for the future? So far I have only been off for a few days but this episode of back pain is particularly bad. Obviously they will not change. But I have a good record here of my actual work including awards for a relatively short time.

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29 minutes ago, PerceptionReality said:

I think it is bullying if someone calls in sick and is told they are not allowed to as employees are entitled to take sick leave if they aren’t fit for work. Of course you can’t control the employers response to that but still...

 

what happens is that people come to work I’ll and vomit down the sink halfway through a treatment. 

Regrettably, what you or I think isn't the law! But seriously, and this is important - even if it is "bullying", there's NO employment law against bullying! There may be other laws that are relevant. But I'm sorry to say that there often aren't, or aren't laws strong enough, to prevent or sanction even the very worst bullying. If a workplace is organised, a union may be able to intervene, but often there's little we can do either because we can only function in respect of what the law says- unless a workforce is prepared to take industrial action in support of colleagues.

 

And again, this is important - there is NO entitlement to sick leave. Absolutely none. The law does not provide for employees to have sick leave. Now practically, common sense says that sometimes people will be sick. But the law doesn't say that! What the law says is (a) IF someone is off work sick, AND they meet some rules, then they are entitled to sick pay. That isn't the same thing as being entitled to be sick! And if it comes to it, the employer can fairly dismiss people who are off sick. After two years they must follow a few guidelines- but they are still able to dismiss for sickness. 

 

As far as answering the phone - nobody can make you answer a phone. What the employer does if you don't answer is another matter. You have no protections here.

 

Your autism is not related to the reason you are off sick, so the disability - if it is one, because it isn't automatic - doesn't count here. And I do understand what your are saying but I have to point out again - phoning you and asking you to come to work is not what I would do, but it is in no way unlawful. Your definition of what you think is bullying is not something the law is concerned with.

 

You know your employer. You know what they are like. You know you can get another job. So you must decide whether there are things with this employer that makes what you don't like worth staying. If there isn't anything, you need to get another job. 

 

It maybe isn't the way the world "ought" to be, but the world often isn't the way we think it should be. There are, realistically, far fewer protections for employees than most people think there are. 

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7 minutes ago, PerceptionReality said:

Sorry, one thing I forgot to clarify was that when I said how do I protect myself I meant how do I handle this situation in a way that doesn’t ruin my employment prospects for the future? So far I have only been off for a few days but this episode of back pain is particularly bad. Obviously they will not change. But I have a good record here of my actual work including awards for a relatively short time.

A few days off doesn't ruin your future employment. Most employers recognise people will have some time off sick, and accept that as long as it isn't excessive. Just keep your current employer informed, and there isn't anything more to do. Some employers are dreadful when it comes to sickness, others are great. It's the luck of the draw! Public sector employers tend to be better - but even they are now cracking down. But a week is neither here nor there for most employers. 

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Thank you again. The GP has signed me off work for 2 weeks. If I send them this note do I need to still ring them every day?

 

I was previously very popular there but I think that’s only because I work extremely hard. Now that I’m not so useful to them and considering how they behave generally I expect that to change. I see a lot of managers taking their stress out on other people.

 

Im a spa therapist so I have to do a lot of massage and a lot of carrying of laundry etc all of which aggravate my back. 

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4 minutes ago, PerceptionReality said:

Thank you again. The GP has signed me off work for 2 weeks. If I send them this note do I need to still ring them every day?

 

I was previously very popular there but I think that’s only because I work extremely hard. Now that I’m not so useful to them and considering how they behave generally I expect that to change. I see a lot of managers taking their stress out on other people.

 

Im a spa therapist so I have to do a lot of massage and a lot of carrying of laundry etc all of which aggravate my back. 

You have to comply with your employers policy, whatever that is. The fit note doesn't change that. If they say you must ring every day, then you must ring every day.

 

Are you actually an employee? I ask because a lot of people in your type of work are either workers or self employed, and the answer is different in all cases - although not so as to be helpful for you, I'm afraid.

 

Also, I'm afraid that I'd have to point out that you have just demonstrated grounds for dismissal. That doesn't mean they will, but it is questionable whether you should be doing the job that you are doing. Even if you had two years employment  (and assuming you are an employee), a health condition which (a) can be specifically triggered or aggravated by the job that you do, and (b) the requirements of your role could cause further or permanent damage, could be grounds for fair dismissal anyway. 

 

I mention this because if the issue is structural in the spine (and believe me, I know a lot about that!) you may need to give serious thought to whether your current profession is going to be suitable for you in the future; and if it is, what things toy may need to eliminate or reduce to minimise damage. It is very unlikely, given what you have already said, that your spinal problem will amount to a disability, so you don't have a right to ask for reasonable adjustments. Some employers  might consider them anyway - but the right is only to ask, not to get. And whatever happens you do not want to risk your back in the long term. 

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Yes I agree with you, which is why I feel I should go back to salon work. Which historically has not aggravated the problem. I am an employee, yes. It does not say we have to ring every day but I think it’s reasonable for me to let them know so they can plan appointments booking.

 

I have tried to leave this job a few weeks ago because of my back but as I said they didn’t want to let me go and persuaded me to stay.

 

 

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Well, you now know your value - they only care about the money you make them. Don't make the same mistake twice...

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Advice from an expert in multiple painful back conditions:

1. Screw the employer

2. Screw the money

3. Screw the customers 

4. Your health comes first, everything else after

5. Your gp has signed you off for 2 weeks, this means you will not be fit for 2 weeks. If things change you call them, otherwise you'll be off for 2 weeks.

6. Do not go back to work unless you're fit to work. If this means you'll never go back, accept that bad things happen.

7. Concentrate on getting better and plan for a future with less money in case you leave the job and have a gap in employment. 

8. Record their telephone calls, you'd be allowed to use them in ET if you chose to despite different advice from "experts"

9. 99% of bullying employers and their pet managers only bully people who let them. As soon as you stand up to them they back off and leave you alone. I say 99% because I am reasonable but in my experience it's 100%.

10. If they try to even remotely dispute your gp sick note, tell your gp. Last time i did this the employer ended up sacking 2 of their pet managers (scapegoats) and making a massive apology. 

11. Do not believe for 1 second that employers are always right. Usually they're wrong and cannot follow the simplest of procedures, so even if they can do certain things legally, they most likely screw things up because they are incompetent.  99% of them in my experience cannot organise a piss up in a brewery.

12. DO NOT IGNORE YOUR BACK PAIN OR YOU WILL REGRET IT. (CAPITAL LETTERS ARE INTENTIONAL HERE)

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9 hours ago, king12345 said:

Advice from an expert in multiple painful back conditions:

1. Screw the employer

2. Screw the money

3. Screw the customers 

4. Your health comes first, everything else after

5. Your gp has signed you off for 2 weeks, this means you will not be fit for 2 weeks. If things change you call them, otherwise you'll be off for 2 weeks.

6. Do not go back to work unless you're fit to work. If this means you'll never go back, accept that bad things happen.

7. Concentrate on getting better and plan for a future with less money in case you leave the job and have a gap in employment. 

8. Record their telephone calls, you'd be allowed to use them in ET if you chose to despite different advice from "experts"

9. 99% of bullying employers and their pet managers only bully people who let them. As soon as you stand up to them they back off and leave you alone. I say 99% because I am reasonable but in my experience it's 100%.

10. If they try to even remotely dispute your gp sick note, tell your gp. Last time i did this the employer ended up sacking 2 of their pet managers (scapegoats) and making a massive apology. 

11. Do not believe for 1 second that employers are always right. Usually they're wrong and cannot follow the simplest of procedures, so even if they can do certain things legally, they most likely screw things up because they are incompetent.  99% of them in my experience cannot organise a piss up in a brewery.

12. DO NOT IGNORE YOUR BACK PAIN OR YOU WILL REGRET IT. (CAPITAL LETTERS ARE INTENTIONAL HERE)

Thank you - you are right. I only get one body! And yes it’s warning me that I cannot carry on doing this. This time it is particularly bad. 

 

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I guess what keeps people going in whilst sick is the fear of being sacked. Whereas I knew I couldn’t go in and I just said I’m not coming in and that’s it because I can’t physically move. Unless they employ robots (that wouldn’t be a very comfortable massage!) they will have to accept that people get ill.

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Just for the benefit of anyone reading this:

 

You are not allowed to use covert telephone recordings in employment tribunals except in very limited circumstances, in the public interest. You may be allowed to use transcripts, but that is not a guarantee- tribunals may and do decide not to accept them. That is not the view of an expert, it is the view of the tribunals and the law. 

 

99% of employers actually know exactly what they are doing. The law is not on employees side. You may do well on an "argument weak, shout here" approach. You may also make things worse. Think carefully before asserting rights you do not have. It's all very well making unsubstantiated claims of beating down employers in personal situations - but never confuse that with what the law says on a matter. One belligerent person with "the right employers" might get away with it. Most everybody else will end up sacked for the same actions. 

 

 

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I would disagree that 99% of employers know what they are doing but the law is very much skewed towards them and so their ignorance doesnt cost them either.

compare changes in employment law over the last centrury and a half with changes in consumer protection law.

why do bosses of big companies have individual contracts with massive get out clauses etc? because thye employ a lawyer to write up that contract before they accept the job (and it helps that all of their mates do the same) the rest of us dont get that choice, we get offered a standard contract that fits in with the laws written by the people who represent 4% of the population rather than the 96% they apply to.

When I started work and joined a union my employer was proud the be a "reasonable employer". That idea died back in the late 1980's partially for commercial  but mainly for ideological reasons and that ideology rarely comes from government and what does is not dreamt up by MP's, they get lobbied and act according to what is flavour of the month.

you need to ask yourself what can you afford to do regading this injury/illness? can you afford to say you are going to retrain as somehting else at your own expense or possibly go self employed so you get more benefits from the work done and can thus work less hours?

My brother, the eponymous Eric, works for people who pay him in kind so he will do building work for a pub and get free food and drink in exchange. Did some other work and got gifted a bike as payment. Now that doesnt pay rent or fuel bills but does create its own microeconomy that means he doesnt need to go out every day to find things to do to earn money. you could change your career and still do this on occasion as a barter at your local gym/pool. Duncan Ballantyne makes similar arrangements at some of his fitness places  so space in exchange for some service might cut your bills down if you go it alone

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