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Advice needed on sickness absence procedures

Discussion in 'Pregnancy' started by Dueaug11, Apr 18, 2011.

  1. I am 24 weeks pregnant and have been very poorly throughout my pregnancy so far. I have had hyperemesis (extreme sickness) since about 7 weeks pregnant and still suffering, although not as bad now. Since about 16 weeks I have also been suffering from dizziness, which means I can only stand for about 5-10 minutes at a time, otherwise I faint.

    I have been signed off sick by my GP since January and tried to go back to school on a phased return after February half term. When I went in for my meeting with the head teacher to work out the details of the phased return I explained about the dizziness and not being able to stand. She said that she thought I wouldn't be able to teach effectively sitting down and it would be too much of a health and safety risk just in case I fainted. Therefore I went back to my GP and she agreed with what my head teacher had said and signed me off again. Since then I have had minimal contact with my head teacher, even though I ring the school every few weeks when I get a new sick note from my GP.

    That is the last I heard until last week when I received a letter from HR saying an Occupational Health appointment had been made for me. I went to the appointment and the OH doctor has said that I can teach as long as I am sitting down all the time (which my head had already said she didn't think was possible) and I would only start with 10 hours a week.

    Today I have received a letter inviting me for a meeting at school 'in accordance with stage 2 of the management of absence procedure'. The meeting is the first week back after the holidays and my maternity leave starts on 6th June (Monday after May half term, so only four full teaching weeks after the meeting).

    So my questions are as follows:

    Does this sound like a formal disciplinary procedure?
    Are they allowed to do this when I am pregnant?
    Should I get my union involved?
    Any other opinions/suggestions/experiences of similar situations?

    Thanks for reading.
  2. toeinwater

    toeinwater New commenter

    No advice I'm afraid, but didn't want to read and run, and also wanted to say 'poor you!' That sounds horrible! Not only have you had your sickness to deal with, but now added stresses.
    I hope it all sorts itself out.
  3. Hello dueaug11, What a stressful time you've had. Poor you.
    I've been signed off sick too as of today and it is a very odd feeling. Guilt, frustration etc. I understand.
    I am guessing that your school are only doing exactly what is required of them in terms of the period of absence you had had to have, as they probably have to prove they have done certain things in order to claim insurance to cover your time off. Please remember it isn't personal. They are prob following the law to the letter with regards to referral to OH etc.
    In order to give yourself some confidence and make sure you are protected to the hilt, i would now contact your union rep (I mean your local or district one , not school rep) and insist that your union attends any meeting you are required to attend. This may mean postponing meeting that has already been scheduled as it may be too short notice for union. They can arrange a time which suits them and you. In my very recent experience,(bit different but at risk of redundancy unfortunately) your union will probably hold things up slightly and you may find you are not required to go back at all before mat leave kicks in.
    Take it easy- you are signed off for a reason not because you fancied it !! and let your union do the leg work .x
  4. Paradoxicalgirly

    Paradoxicalgirly New commenter

    What a lot of stress on top of your pregnancy to deal with. I thought they weren't supposed to treat pregnancy-related illness in the same way as standard illness? Anyway, definitely contact your regional office of the union for help.
    I also thought that if work couldn't accommodate you following a risk assessment that they could ask you to stay away from work - sort of like a suspension but not for anything that you've done wrong. Which would fit in with the dizziness and not being able to stand for long.
    My employers have been so very accommodating and allowed me to work from home for about 10 weeks - but my role involves 1:1 teaching with adults, who submit electronic portfolios, so I've been able to do that quite easily. Just wish other employers were as supportive.
  5. occy health isn't a problem, any form of disciplinary is.
    call your union and ask their advice. as far as i'm aware, treating any pregnancy-related sickness as a disciplinary matter is against the law.
    i had amended duties and a lighter timetable for half a term and then was signed off for another half term before my maternity started. i had no meetings about my sick leave.
    remember as well you can be signed off sick on full pay until 36 weeks and your employer can't forcibly start your maternity leave before then.
    congrats by the way - i know this seems awful at the moment but when you hold your LO it will mostly be forgotten, promise x
  6. I taught sitting for most of my pregnancy! Granted you have to change your style of teaching but it is possible! (too late for that now but what a daft head!)
    Get your union involved. They can't discriminate - which is in effect what they are doing - because you are pregnant!

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