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Sickness Absence Meeting...help please!

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by planetarium64, Feb 29, 2012.

  1. I am writing under my husband's name as I don't want to be identified. To cut a long story short my school was closed and amalgamated for the start of the Autumn Term, I really struggled with the new setting and management and had health concerns and after a term from hell I was signed off with stress.
    I have been off since January and my school have followed all the managing sickness guidelines to the letter...I was referred to OH and they agreed that I was still suffering from work related stress, they advised that I should attend counselling and recommended a review in 4-6 weeks. My first counselling session is next week.
    This morning I received a letter asking me to attend a meeting to discuss the implications of my absence and the long-term absence procedure. It stated I could take a union rep with me or other colleague.
    I contacted my rep immediately and she dismissed the need for her to be there saying it was just a welfare meeting. She knows how difficult this has been for me and has suggested a compromise agreement in the past but this morning she said I need to look at getting back to work and she didn;t see the need for her to be at the meeting.
    I am at a loss as to what to do, I feel this meeting will only lead to competency procedures as I cannot say when I will feel mentally able to return to that workplace, however I feel more than capable of returning to another school as it is the workplace and not the job that has affected me so much!
    Has anyone attended such a meeting - any advice as to what to do would be greatfully appreciated, I feel I've just taken a massive step backwards.

  2. No, you wouldn't because you're not the person who has the illness, unless you have been signed off with something similar in the past?. Also, you are probably aware from the tes forums that many bullying leaders try to get people in this situation dismissed for competancy through ill health. So given the situation that made the OP ill, it's no wonder that she and other people in her situation see something 'sinister' in this type of meeting, as this awareness merely heightens the stress levels of someone who already has a stress related illness.

  3. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    Even if it is a positive meeting I don't think that now is a good time for the OP to go for it, she should contact OH and tell them that it's made her more stressed and then contact her unions area rep not the unhelpful school rep. I've managed to survive work based stress but I was lucky I was only at the school for a year and I was able to limp through the rest of the year after having some time off with stress myself. And recovering from stress takes time, i signed up to supply, got some long term work that was initially just arranged per 1/2 term via extentions (it was all my shot confidence could cope with at the time), I got the bulk of my confidence back by the xmas, by easter i was feeling more myself again (and noticing it) and it wasn't until the summer hols that the last of my physical symptoms went (excema on my eye lids).

    The OP shouldn't feel under pressure for anything whilst she recovers from this and if and when any meetings happen she'll want a union bod with her and I would say that she needs to have had at least one session with the councillor as that person will be best qualified to say if she's in a fit state to go for a meeting!
  4. What we all have to remember here is that every LA has different policies and practices. If you do not follow the LA's procedures this is what can loose you your job. It may be the case that this meeting must happen to be in-keeping with the policy. If the OP has issues with this meeting they should seek support from their union rep. It may be the case that it can be postponed.

    I have worked for an organisation where this was also the case. I have also worked in an LA where it wasn't. Again, policies and practices vary. It would be unwise to relate experiences in one are to someone who you don't know anything about.

    Not just from the TES forum, but from the world as a whole. I am also aware of countless cases where staff members have been dismissed for not complying to policy or were justifiably dismissed whilst signed off. I, myself, have conducted investigations into people who have been off such and dismissed them due to failures on their part. What we don't want to happen is that the OP takes advice from a forum and then goes onto loose her job because it is inaccurate.

    HR and the school are different entities. HR can offer different support than the school. I worked with someone who was bullied by other staff - HR were able to organise a return to a different school and did deal with the bullying. Is it a hindrance? Who knows. Perhaps more discussion with the Union is required (at a higher level).
  5. Try to keep a sense of perspective - I didn't see anything in the OP about anything other than a perception this could lead to capability. First things first - every school has an Management of Attendance policy (not management of sickness - unless it specifically states that). It's also usually adopted without undue modification from the LA - which is why HR is often involved. Heads are not HR professionals -hence the need for someone versed in employment procedures - which would be HR officers from the LA. In a sense the union rep is sending you an ok message that this is nothing to worry about - but it wasn't an approach that should be followed! I certainly never refused to attend any such meetings - for one thing it's a general principle that both "sides" - which makes it sound more adversarial than in needs be - are balanced numerically. Second, the procedure sets out a process for REVIEWING the absence. Many teachers fall foul of this by ignoring it. The employer (usually the LA) is entitled to consult with you and Occ Health about any protracted absence - and the procedures provide for this. If you had a broken leg - heaven forbid - everyone concerned would have a rough idea how long the absence would be - a couple of months perhaps. But with stress the length of the absence is much less predictable - hence the need for review meetings - and perhaps several will be needed. So relax - this is just intended - or certainly should be intended - to monitor the situation. There is certainly a limit - but you are nowhere near that yet. Hope this helps. PM me if you need more info.
  6. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    Don't attend without a union representative. Contact regional if they won't and complain.
  7. Thank you everyone for you advice, it means a lot that people take time out of their schedules to reply to a stranger, and that you are concerned enough (nonameneeded) to ensure I have all the facts to hand.
    My rep is the regional rep :)
    I want to be assured that this meeting is routine and hopefully, as iconoclastic states that it will be purely a system for reviewing the situation as stress is such an unknown entity.
    I am just so worried that I might make an innocent remark that then leads to recrimination as my employers seem to know their rights and responsibilities to the letter.I also don't know what I can say when they ask me when I feel ready to return to work as I'm not sure I will ever be ready to return to that school.
  8. That won't happen. The way these things work is that it tends to be facts that are recorded. If you say something that HR may find strange, they will ask you to clarify. HR is very different to school management, or any other type of management. It is based on employment law and as such they tend to be very careful and ensure they get things right.

    Well, your answer would simply be "I am not yet ready." Or "I am currently being supported by OH and am not able to answer that yet". You don't really have to answer any questions - a simple "I can't answer that at this stage." will normally do. If they ask anything you don't want to answer, you can say that you wish to speak to your union rep and get back to them. Just remember that it isn't HR's job to trip you up... if they set out to do this there are major legal ramifications for them.

    I don't know if you have heard of the Teacher Support Line (google it). They have been phenomenal during my ongoing struggles. They are fantastic listeners and a good source of general advice.
  9. Has anyone had a rep from regional level attend a meeting on your behalf?
  10. Hi nonameneeded
    Apologies if I sounded rude in my previous posts to you. I was concerned about your initial response as it didn't appear to be taking the full situation as we knew it into account but I appreciate that you were trying to reassure the OP.
    I'm afraid that this issue is still a sore point for me because I've only just recovered from a similar experience to the OP.
    By the way, I wish to make it clear to everyone on the thread that I'm not advising the OP to do anything that would put her job at risk. I am merely saying that if she feels uncomfortable about attending this meeting so early on, then she shouldn't feel that she can't do so because of 'LA procedures'! As you said nonameneeded, it is neither in the interest of the employer nor the employee to have the employee hustled back to work or agree to things before she is ready.
    I should also add that I'm a post 16 teacher and worked in an FE college, so had different procedures to follow.
    Good luck OP!
  11. I know that our HR are in cahoots with our HT. They think he is a fantastic head and is definately NOT neutral when dealing with staff.
  12. The situation is already being monitored by OH and telling someone who's off sick with a stress related illness to relax and try to keep a sense of perspective is a unhelpful thing to say! If the OP could do this, she wouldn't have been signed off sick by a doctor!

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