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Occupational Health referral after being signed off with WRS

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by ElizabethElizabeth1, Nov 14, 2018.

  1. ElizabethElizabeth1

    ElizabethElizabeth1 New commenter

    Hi everyone,

    In total I’ve been signed off with WRS for 25days (I’m also heavily pregnant). I did suggest a phased return after 15 days but the school wanted all or nothing for consistency for the kids.... I don’t get any more than this at full pay (due to only being with the LA since Jan) so resigned myself to going back full whack.

    My head just called to say she’s made a referral to occupational health to help them if I get a ‘no return to work’ or with how to support me when I come back. I feel suspicious of everything and like a right pain that it’s all so official. Also I feel like I did make a suggestion to support me with a phased return of mornings for a week which they didn’t like...
    I don’t want the occupational health to just say I’m fine and make out like I’m pulling wool over their eyes- I was really unwell with stress/panic attacks. Equally if they say I’m not fit (which I don’t think they will), I’ll lose half my pay. Has anyone had any experience with these meetings?
  2. 50sman

    50sman Lead commenter

    Occupational Health are totally neutral
    You don’t want to go back full time yet
    The school would like this
    You have WRS
    You are heavily pregnant
    Occ Health been called in to act as referee both to make sure your health and your baby’s health is not compromised and the school will not get the rear end sued off them for being unreasonable

    I assume you are in a Union - ring them and they may tell you the same thing
  3. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    All the reports I have seen here (and there are many) have only good things to say about OH.

    Remember that making things official and above board can protect you as well as help the employer. It's best for things to be done correctly. And school sounds as if they are following proper procedure.

    OH doesn't exist to beat you into submission. I don't know of any negative experiences.

    Besides which? You can't be seen to be uncooperative. So don't be. Please don't fear the worst. They're the experts and do have a good rep.
  4. emmysparkle

    emmysparkle New commenter

    I have one tomorrow. Speak to your union if you can.
    There are so many people in a similar situation on here that I can't remember if I have already replied to your posts! Sorry I can't be any more help. Take care of your self x
  5. Summerhols6

    Summerhols6 Occasional commenter

    Schools buy in OH. I had a referral over the phone. They usually use Nurses and not Doctors, to save costs. It's another' service' that is bought in by the MAT. You will get a phone call from a company, and they will arrange a date and time for a Nurse to 'ask you some questions over the phone'. This will make up the content of the report. You maybe sent to OH but this is done less and less for the reason given on the first line. OH will probably recommend that you return on a 'phased return'. Your employer doesn't have to allow you to return to work this way but they would be foolish not to. This is because if your health worsens, they have ignored medical advice, and this could be used at a Tribunal, should things go that way, which i'm sure they won't.
    The OH will be fine and as long as your HT isn't totally unreasonable, she will follow its recommendations.
    agathamorse and grumpydogwoman like this.
  6. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

    I have in the past said that I thought that a telephone consultation was inappropriate in my case and have had it replaces with an actual visit to talk to a GP/Consultant which I preferred.
    agathamorse likes this.
  7. peapicker

    peapicker Star commenter

    Your response is disingenous and, may I say, rather misleading.

    OH are independent medical practitioners, governed by their own professional standards. Whilst it is the case that employers pay for a referral, it is wrong to infer from that, that OH is partisan.

    Employers have a duty of care for their employees and also responsibility for their business. It is encumbent upon them to ascertain whether an employee is fit to work and whether (or when) they may realistically be expected to return to work. They also need to know whether a person has a specific condition for which adjustments need to be made, or whether conditions at work could be said to have caused the illness or condition. Where someone is away for an extended period, or repeatedly, it would be negligent of an employer NOT to propose an OH referral.

    The employer needs to know to what extent - if any - the OP's pregnancy has impacted on her WRS and, therefore, whether the illness is pregnancy-related. The OP should have been risk-assessed on notification of her pregnancy and reviewed regularly in between. If this has not happened and the working conditions have caused the illness, the employer could be liable for pregnancy discrimination.

    For many employees, a telephone interview with an OH nurse practitioner may be all that is required. Where a condition is more-complex or on assessment by a telephone triage, a referral on to an OH doctor can be made.

    If the OP's medical condition is pregnancy-related and the school has exhausted its legal duty to make workplace adjustments or changes, if they can't keep her and her baby safe any other way, they would be obliged to medically suspend her on full pay, with no other detriments. If she remains absent with a pregnancy-related illness 4 weeks before her due date, her maternity leave commences at that point.

    Here is a link to informed information about OH referrals:

    agathamorse and ridleyrumpus like this.
  8. ElizabethElizabeth1

    ElizabethElizabeth1 New commenter

  9. peapicker

    peapicker Star commenter

    A risk-assessment for pregnant employees is not optional: it is mandated under the Health & Safety at Work Act.

    The length of your working day and inability to take breaks as appropriate should have been taken into account in reviews of risk-assessments and then appropriate adjustments made to enable you to work. That's the law! It's NOT a choice by employers. It's not a wonder that you are stressed and exhausted.

    Please do refer this to your union as a matter of urgency. You may need to speak to the regional office, as discrimination law is compliocated and school and local reps rarely have enough knowledg eor experience of it. Mention to your union that you have been given information that suggests you may have been subjected to pregnancy discrimination, that is 'unfavourable' treatment 'because of' your pregnancy. Pregnancy discrimination is unlawful under section 18 Equality Act 2010.

    Talk to your doctor / midwife too, if you haven't already, about the extent to which your pregnancy and the school's failure to either prepare or make adjustments for it, may have contributed to your sickness absence. Get the evidence down on your medical notes. I am aghast (though sadly not surprised - I have seen it too often before) that your school believes it to be acceptable to treat a pregnant employee as it has treated you.
    agathamorse likes this.
  10. ElizabethElizabeth1

    ElizabethElizabeth1 New commenter

    Thank you. I spoke to my union who are pretty horrified. I was surprised at the lack of risk assessment but staff who have also been pregnant here have said they didn’t get one. It’s almost pointless because they need to address the main problem- the crushing work load that means their whole staff works through their breaks and still work late in the evenings/weekends. Until they change that, none of us are getting breaks.

    I once asked to be exempt from a late evening event that my team leader said she was happy for me to miss but was told no. That meant I was at school 7.30am-8.30pm. The GP doesn’t want me going back full time, if at all. I don’t want to be signed off ***** nilly (I’m not sure how easily GPs hand over a sick note) as i’d like the closure. I’ll need to return in a year to avoid paying back my maternity pay & I don’t want it ending on bad terms but I can’t see how they’re going to support me without changing their mindset.
  11. Summerhols6

    Summerhols6 Occasional commenter

    I'm quoting from RECENT experience. I don't see where it is misleading. I was trying to advise.
    [This comment/section/image has been removed for breaching our Community Guidelines/Terms and conditions]
  12. peapicker

    peapicker Star commenter

    Please talk to your union about your pregnancy / maternity rights in general. It is not sufficient to say that they treat all employees equally badly and so have not discriminated against you and other pregnant employees (known, absolutely no wind-up, as 'the ******* defence'!). It is definitely not pointless to say nothing. If excessive workload is an issue generally, the unions should be taking this up, but that does not excuse negligence for the health and well-being of pregnant employees. They MUST act with consideration and make allowances for pregnant employees. It's the law and not optional. As I said previously, if they are unable to adapt or accommodate sufficient to keep you and your baby safe, they are required to medically suspend you on full pay, with no detriment to you.

    It is your right to return from maternity leave to precisely the same job as you left, on the same terms. If the maternity leave lasts the full year and the business has moved on, in the meantime, the right is to return to as close a proximity to your previous job as is possible in the circumstances. They cannot victimise you because you asserted your right not to be subjected to unlawful treatment because of your pregnancy.

    Your GP will provide a sick note if you are ill. You can self-certify for the first 7 days, after which you need a certificate. Do ensure that it is recorded that your employer's negligence of your pregnancy has contributed to your stress and exhaustion. Tell your GP and / or midwife everything and get an official record of it.

    Many women wish to return to work part-time, when they have a young family. There is a need to make a formal flexible working request and employers are only allowed to refuse for one or more of eight legitimate business reasons. It is now well-established in case-law that a refusal of flexible working can be indirect sex discrimination.

    Most union websites and certainly the ACAS website have detailed information on how to go about this.

    Good luck and best wishes for the forthcoming new arrival!
  13. Summerhols6

    Summerhols6 Occasional commenter

    The OH will use evidence from the time spent assessing the teacher. They are a service (whether you like this or not) bought in by schools. This doesn't make them biased in any way, it's a fact. FROM MY RECENT EXPERIENCE, very very recent, they usually advise a phased return to work, if fit to return. This can be from 2-4 weeks, a short phased return, or longer. They may advise that you are not yet fit to return to work which I should have added.
    [This comment/section/image has been removed for breaching our Community Guidelines/Terms and conditions]

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