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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 48156
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I have been signed off work for a week with "work related stress".

Resolved Question:

I have been signed off work for a week with "work related stress". I handed my sick note into my Line Manager in the morning. I had a pre-arranged meeting with an external Committee due later that afternoon - several of the Committee travel from considerable distances for the meeting so I could not cancel the meeting at such late notice. I am instrumental in this meeting and there would be no point holding the meeting without me present. I offered to sign a waiver to allow me to attend the meeting on site. I was told this was not possible, but I could meet the Chairman of the meeting off site to discuss the meeting for him to report back to the rest of the Committee. The Chairman contacted the rest of the Committee and arranged for the meeting to be moved off site to a local pub. My line manager found out and is now getting very angry and has questioned other members of staff about this meeting. I am away from the office and have found out from my colleagues. Where do I stand legally, please?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long have you worked there for?

Customer:

I have worked there for 7 years.

Ben Jones :

What is he upset about exactly, how has this impacted him, the business etc?

Customer:

I have no idea why he is so upset. He was told by my colleagues about the re-located meeting and was told he was welcome to attend. He has now denied to my colleagues that he agreed to me meeting the Chairman off site and has questioned all of them and is obviously angry about this meeting.

Ben Jones :

has it affected the business in any way?

Customer:

No - not at all.

Ben Jones :

And no formal action is being taken against you yet?

Customer:

Not that I am aware but it looks likely that it will when I return too work next week.

Ben Jones :

ok let me get my response ready please

Customer:

Thank you

Ben Jones :

At this stage it is difficult to see what the actual problem the manager believes is. He may just be getting angry about this but not take any formal action, or he could seek to do so once you return to work. Until you are actually faced with formal investigation or disciplinary you will not know for certain.


 


In the meantime you have to consider if you have broken any company rules or procedures. Even if you are signed off sick it does not mean that you cannot conduct some work and having a sick note for a specific period does not mean you are forced to stay off work for that period – you can still do some work if you feel able to.


 


So the issue may simply be around you trying to move the meeting without your manager’s consent – this is really an internal issue that would depend on the usual arrangements in these situations, for example did you need to keep him informed or seek his consent and so on.


 


In any event, in order to justify that disciplinary action on grounds of misconduct was fair, the law requires that the employer:



  • Conducts a reasonable investigation;

  • Follows a fair disciplinary procedure; and

  • Shows they had reasonable grounds to believe the employee was guilty.


 


In addition, the employer is expected to follow the ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. So you may have to wait until he decides whether to take this matter further then you will know the specific allegations and how to deal with them .

Ben Jones :

Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? Thanks

Customer:

Thank you. I think that my real concern is that legally there is nothing to prevent me attending a meeting while signed off sick. My Line Manager seems to be getting very worked up about this - and all we did was move the meeting. I am sure that he will try to take it further (we have had issues, which is why I am signed off sick) - but he was aware of the meeting and knew that I was meeting with our Chairman. He now denies this and I am worried it will be my word against his - as there were no witnesses.

Ben Jones :

this is where the investigation would come in and the employer would have to conduct one to find out what each party says about this to try and establish who is telling the truth. In any event, I do not see a gross misconduct issue here

Customer:

Thank you. I will see what happens when I return on Tuesday - just something else to add to my stress. Just to clarify - legally, I can work while signed off from work if I feel able to? My sick note is only for one week and I do not have to see my GP before returning - I thought that I was being helpful and conscientious - but it appears not...

Ben Jones :

yes you can - a sick note is there if you need it, it does not mean you must not work for the full duration

Ben Jones :

some people may feel better eartlier and return to work before its expiration

Customer:

Thank you very much - that is what I hoped was the case. I will see what happens on Tuesday. I have just been told that our HR Consultant is in talking to my Line Manager now - so I am sure that they will try to take it further....

Ben Jones :

time will tell but whatever happens you have the right to defend yourself, appeal and so on and it is far from a final decision at this stage

Customer:

Thank you very much, that is very helpful...

Ben Jones :

You are most welcome. Please take a second to leave a positive rating for the advice I have provided as that is an important part of our process. Thank you and feel free to bookmark my profile for future help:



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