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Getting nervous about Occupational Health

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by FrauleinGM, Nov 22, 2019.

  1. FrauleinGM

    FrauleinGM New commenter

    Hi all,
    I've posted recently about my health difficulties (heart problems). Following being signed off by my GP and her recommendation, I've asked the school to make an OH report (hoping that what comes of it will support me).
    I've just been sent a draft of the referral to be made and there are quite a few things there that I disagree with - like that my condition is worsening (not true - i have an arrythmia that is unpredictable but they are implying that it is getting worse week on week which is not true), that medication is unsuccessful in treating it (it has been until now but I have just been switched onto something else which may work), that there 'may' be a solution in the future (I have been referred for a procedure which has 90% success rate, so a bit more than a hopeful 'may').

    They've also included a huge paragraph about how my absences are having an impact on the students and they are receiving a lot of complaints from the parents (how is OH supposed to help with that?) and they don't have enough staff to cover for me (not really true) and also I am leaving my department with no leadership or guidance (I am a head of subject - I do have a HOD above me who I believe should be stepping in on the days Im not there).
    Maybe I a overreacting but I feel like it's very focused on how inconvenient it is for them rather than the actual medical details. And it's just made me feel hugely guilty, which I didn't need.

    What are my rights in terms of getting them to alter this before it is sent off?
    Incidentally, I am also having a formal absence management meeting and all of this is being done without a written sickness/absence policy (I've asked for it and apparently we don't currently have one).
    I've been in contact with my union but waiting to hear back... Getting so worried about everything :(
  2. IanG

    IanG Occasional commenter

    Strongly suggest you speak to union regarding this. From the school view they are probably thinking in order to get the best advice from OH, the referral needs to include enough detail for an appropriate assessment to be made. This will help OH 'understand the nature of the individual's work, advise whether any aspects might be affecting their health and consider any modifications or adjustments which may enable the individual to do their job'. Naturally you will have the opportunity to discuss the referral and comments with OH at the time of assessment.

    Now this really worries me and hopefully the union will have plenty to say about it! There has to be policy in place, last year I came across something similar where a school claimed that their policy was in 'transition' and therefore no policy at the time (basically making things up as they went along). It took union involvement (school was refusing union reps at formal meeetings) to point out whilst they may be in the process of rewriting the absence policy that this transition meant that the old policy had to be in affect until the new one was complete.
    grumpydogwoman and sbkrobson like this.
  3. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    OK, I think you have misunderstood the function and role of Occupational Health.
    They are not supposed to help with that. They don't help you at work, they don't make you better, and they don't need to consider the problems the school may have in you being absent
    They are supposed to help you by writing a report which goes back to the school and tells the school how to help you. It is official. And binding on the school. And so important if it comes to any sort of dispute with the school. They are obliged to listen to Occupational Health.
    So in this respect it seems that the document the school have compiled is excellent. Your occupational health advisor can add stress to your list of problems, because of how the school have persisted in pressurising you with the effects of your absence.

    The fact of them not having a sickness or absence policy is ultimately to their detriment, and will be of huge interest to your union.

    Start looking forward to your OH referral-they are your friend in all of this,and you will be quite at liberty to "offload" to them about how you feel the school is damaging your recovery. And you do that in confidence. It's good.

    My honest opinion is your managers/leadership sound a bit thick, they are not clued up in people skills and are used to having people consider their needs before anything else. They are also not used to correctly demonstrating a duty of care during absence
    Hopefully they are about to learn a few things.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2019
  4. RomfordLEA

    RomfordLEA New commenter

    Schools are not obliged to listen to OH and it is only advice. If they ignore the advice then it only helps if you go to tribunal. I would get your consultant to write a letter that supports your position that the procedure will make a difference. Hopefully this will be enough for them to at least wait until you’ve had it. I’d also find out how long you are likely to be off as a result. If they set targets for stage 1 then you will automatically go to stage 2. At the end of the day you need to put your health first and do what is best for you.
    1970devon and grumpydogwoman like this.
  5. sooooexcited

    sooooexcited Established commenter

    At the time of writing, your meds weren't working and a 90% chance isn't certain so "may" is a fair description.

    As far as I know, the report must be used to make reasonable adjustments but is not legally binding - they give a set of suggestions but if school cannot reasonably make those amendments, they don't have to.
  6. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    They school are obliged to demonstrate that they have done everything they can to meet the adjustments. This is why they forwarded the comments about the children ie they were pointing out how hard it will be to make adjustments. They wanted to get in there first.
    However, the OH report functions as a sort of risk assessment,and as such it compels the school to react to cover all the risks indicated. If the adjustment of duties is not possible, then there still needs to be a fair outcome in terms of the content of the report. They cannot just say "we'll do some of these things but not all of them"
    This might involve switching staff roles, for example.
    If it comes to absolutely not being able to accommodate OP, then it becomes a far more protracted matter. Union will be able to describe possible scenarios.
    One thing is for sure-the report is needed to move forward for all parties, and is also needed to ensure fairness and the most beneficial outcome for OP.

    OP, back to your question-no. Don't try to get anything altered in the school referral. They have the right to include their side at the moment, but you can use that to your benefit as described in post 3.
  7. RomfordLEA

    RomfordLEA New commenter

    OH definitely only provides advice. Please don’t treat them as if they are your GP and make sure the report makes it clear that you will be fit to return to work.

    Attached Files:

  8. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Easy to say but don't worry.

    Get your health professionals to give their medical reports.

    Let the school dig itself a hole. They speculate on your health? Let them. Makes them look very bad. Totally beyond their remit. Let them exaggerate. Their intent becomes clear. No sickness/absence policy? No transparency? No accountability? They are looking increasingly bad.

    Any union rep can kick them out of the park! Easy win.

    But you need to come up with something positive. What can you do? What can you do now? Maybe field email queries from NQTs? Just offer something. What might you do in a month? Put a positive spin on it. No promises. Suggestions. You're being constructive and reasonable. They're the bad guy. They're offering NOTHING.

    Honestly. If I were the rep? I'd be salivating over this. Union all the way.
  9. FrauleinGM

    FrauleinGM New commenter

  10. FrauleinGM

    FrauleinGM New commenter

    Again, tell me about it! I got signed off and told HR I didn't want contact fro school while recovering. Get a message a few hours later asking for cover work for my classes. I said I would send later. Then get a text message from my line manager asking to send notes for parents evening - basically write out all the things I would have told the parents. I was annoyed but did it.
    The next day, I get in my personal email the OH referral (I told HR they could send that to my personal address as wanted it sent off ASAP). However, in the same email HR conveniently remember to mention that there are some student papers that urgently need to be marked and my HOD is asking if I could please get these to him.
    I replied that the papers are unmarked and in school and given that I am signed off ill I will not be coming into school to correct and mark them.
    It beggars belief...

    Incidentally, where do I stand in terms of writing reports while off sick? We've got a load due like 2 days after I come back to school. I either do them whilst off sick or will be late with them :( Argh, how am I ever supposed to recover and feel better....

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