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Worried about sickness absence

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by tallpoppy71, Jan 24, 2018.

  1. pittrivers

    pittrivers New commenter

    I am signed off for the second time with WRS and can’t stop worrying about how this will be seen by school. Can I be dismissed for this? I don’t know if this anxiety is part of being ill or a real possibility.
  2. rooney1

    rooney1 Occasional commenter

    Hi Tallpoppy. I remember panicking about this as well when I was was signed off with WRS - even though I knew that I couldn't be got rid of that easily. I think it is probably quite natural to worry. Use this time to look after yourself and to think about how you can make your future easier or different. I'm sure other people will be along with advice about dismissal through illness - but it certainly can't happen overnight. Speak to your union rep.
    Anonymouse4 likes this.
  3. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    No. They won't dismiss you as unfit. They could try to ease you out by workplace bullying so you bail out of your own accord. That definitely happens. But they can't just dismiss you summarily. If they wanted to dismiss you because they felt you were unfit then there's a procedure they'd need to follow. That hardly ever happens.

    No. They may not like it but they'll have to put up with it. You'll soon know if they've lost patience with you.

    So you're not going to get the push for a couple of short periods of WRS. Not out of the blue. But clearly this isn't the right school for you. Lots of teachers bounce back. Either they get union help and things improve where they are OR they move schools.

    From the NUT

    When may a dismissal be fair?

    A dismissal may be fair if it is for a reason related to:

    • Conduct;
    • Competence or qualifications;
    • Fitness;
    • Redundancy;
    • Statutory duty or restrictions (e.g. no right to work in the UK);
    • Some other substantial reason (i.e. anything which does not fit into the above categories)

    The employer must, however, have reasonable grounds for treating the ‘reason’ as sufficient reason for dismissal and must follow a fair procedure before dismissing the employee.
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  4. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    The school CAN dismiss for being incapable of working because of sickness. 'Competence' relates to health, as well as the ability to maintain the required professional standards.
  5. clarefrankie

    clarefrankie Occasional commenter

    but surely if the school are responsible for the WRS and don't make reasonable adjustments to enable a teacher to return then surely that can't be grounds for dismissal?
  6. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    It's certainly possible to be dismissed but it's a lengthy process and really rather rare.

    Can't find up to date figures but:

    The figures from Schools Minister Nick Gibb showed that in the period from 2001 to 2011 just 17 of England’s 400,000 teachers were struck off for ‘professional incompetence’.

    The sanction from the General Teaching Council for England prevents failing teachers from applying for another job in education after being asked to leave a school because of poor performance.

    Over the same period 211 teachers were struck off for misconduct.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...ruck-incompetence-10-years.html#ixzz556lG17vb

    So I think @tallpoppy71 should probably relax a bit and not worry. I do know I had a week off with WRS once and nobody batted an eyelid. The odds are very much in the OP's favour. And the sheet-ier the school? Well, they'd be daft to get rid. A teacher who's there most of the time is perhaps preferable to a succession of supply teachers.
  7. Anonymouse4

    Anonymouse4 Occasional commenter

    Surely, those 17 were the only ones to stick it out to the bitter end though? I know that won't be helpful for the OP though- sorry @tallpoppy71. However, it is likely to be long drawn out process. Look at the attendance policy for your school. It will have stages and they will let you know what stage you are at at each attendance meeting. They have to address what's in the Occ Health report first though so you may be invited to a work stress risk assessment meeting, then a follow up to discuss your return. I think it's when you don't return after these adjustments are made that they are within their right to elevate you to the next stage of the absence procedure.

    I have friends who have been in similar situations to you (with a whole load of bullying on the side). They've agreed to go, signed up with supply agencies, taken on a long term supply job somewhere they've liked a lot more and had their contracts made permanent. This is two teachers who really hit rock bottom over a year ago. Both in permanent jobs they really like. It is possible!
  8. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    School will be so busy trying to find instances where your illness has impacted on student learning whether you are there or not that they will likely have a dossier like an A4 lever archer file of reasons they no longer think you can fulfil the duties they require, that they caused them is unlikely to a) feature or b)be recognised if it is brought up. You need an awful lot of gumption to fight that type of situation while you are unwell.

    I heard of one instance where a member of staff on graduated return after a long absence and serious illness had it cited in such a dossier that they were not teaching a particular keystage, which they were not because they were on an agreed (with the school and OH) reduced timetable and another member of staff was brought in to cover the classes and half the workload, nevertheless at the stage 2 sickness meeting this was brough up as them not fulfilling their duties. It is very much like politics and whoever yields most power wins, it is by no means fair and can leave the sick/recovering and even disabled former employee feeling deskilled, used and worthless. Tis a sorry state of affairs when management stop supporting and encouraging staff and start getting the daggers out.
  9. clarefrankie

    clarefrankie Occasional commenter

    crikey i had never even thought of this. I have just been signed off with WRS for 4 weeks and now feel scared that i might be reprimanded when i go back...i have full union support and they have said that they will attend my back to work meeting
  10. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    That is before the capability frenzy got started...
    needabreak likes this.
  11. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    I didn't mean to scare you. Every situation and school is different, however this did occur and was disappointing for the person involved, who was also I might add a great loss to the school where they had served exceedingly well for a number of years being commended on several occasions by staff and governors... they weren't easy to replace either and it was a while ago. Edit - it could have just have been a case of a HT losing the plot and falling off his rocker.
  12. CheeseMongler

    CheeseMongler Lead commenter

    Be interesting to see the figures to compare but I doubt it's increased by much. The capability frenzy is more about scaring good but expensive teachers out rather than actually weeding out the professionally incompetent.
    needabreak likes this.
  13. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    Indeed. I can never get my head around the idea that anyone could have avoided capability for years (even when it began to become a thing), and who's students achieve outcomes in line with expectations and on some occasions exceeding them can suddenly become unable to "teach", it simply doesn't make sense, is there a thief who pops out every night nicking various teachers brains so they turn up the next day unable to teach?
  14. pittrivers

    pittrivers New commenter

    I feel I should go back in. GP advice is only ‘advice’ isn’t it?
  15. clarefrankie

    clarefrankie Occasional commenter

    i think you need to speak to your union. Some schools are not insured to let signed off teachers back in to teach
  16. CheeseMongler

    CheeseMongler Lead commenter

    It is professional advice from someone that knows the biology of your body better than you do. It's only advice when I tell students not to drink the toxic chemicals. Could be fatal if they don't follow that pearl of wisdom though.
    needabreak and grumpydogwoman like this.
  17. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    If the GP's advice was to come back to see him/her before returning to work then do as you have been advised.

    Your GP's advice
    You should not go back to work before the end date on your fit note if your doctor has advised that you should stay off work for the full period covered by the fit note, and wants to see you again.


    But it seems clear that you've got yourself in a right state over this so I'm guessing you'll just go back and accept whatever negative consequences this has upon your health. You must do what you think best.
  18. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    You can definitely be dismissed for long term sickness, and I know someone to whom it happened, though they're not a teacher.

    They were off for so long that they used up all of their sick pay entitlement. They were effectively off without pay. The employer asked for an independent medical, sorry I can't remember the full, correct term. Occupational health?

    The report said that the illness was completely genuine and that there was no prospect of a return to work in the foreseeable future. He was subsequently dismissed, as the employer needed someone doing the role, and couldn't continue to get other staff to fill in indefinitely.

    I suspect grumpy is correct in that it's rare, and I also suspect others are correct who suggest many more went before this stage.

    Grumpy suggests it'd be a lengthy process. How lengthy? In this instance, translated into the teaching environment, it'd amount to using up your 20 weeks full pay, and your 20 weeks half pay, then the school arranging a medical. If the teacher doesn't agree, they're gone. If the teacher agrees, and it says they are fit to return, then they return or they're gone. If it says they're not fit to return, they're gone, unless it says a return is likely in the very near future.

    Unless your SLT are very understanding indeed.
  19. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    It seems this is a familiar story, just out of interest does anyone know where sick pay for such absences comes from, is it an existing budget heading or is it direct funded by Government since clearly the school has to pay for cover too so where does that come from? Just wondering as it might be impacted upon if they cannot see a way to cover costs.
  20. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Search no further @grumpydogwoman , I can tell you the up to date figure! Since 2011 the number of teachers struck off for lack of competence/capability is Zero! :) When GTC was abolished and teacher barring moved to NCTL in 2012 the power to bar from teaching for lack of competence/capability was abolished and now you can only be barred for disciplinary misconduct.

    But OP's question wasn't can you be barred from teaching by NCTL but can you be dismissed by your school for being too ill to teach. As you've said, yes you can. No-one knows how often it happens (unless the unions do and are keeping it to themselves). It isn't officially reported to anyone so no DfE national statistics exist.

    I always find it a dilemma when someone in @tallpoppy71 's situation asks about dismissal for ill health/WRS. It would be wrong to say it can't happen because it can and sometimes does. But when you are already very stressed that tends to raise stress levels even higher and be read as "I am going to be dismissed". But really @tallpoppy71 it isn't that common to actually be dismissed for ill health. And it isn't something schools can do arbitrarily. It needs lots of medical input and clear evidence that your medical condition will not improve in the foreseeable future, even with "reasonable adjustments" from the school. So please do not let this possibility weigh on your mind too much
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2018
    chelsea2 and Anonymouse4 like this.

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