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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50949
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I have a query regarding a situation a work. I have been off

Customer Question

Hi all, I have a query regarding a situation a work. I have been off sick with mental health concerns for a couple of months as a fulltime employee. I was due to return on Monday 9th April on phase return e.g. commencing 3 days a week and I was looking forward to return. Now I have been informed that due to my manager being away on a business trip on my return, and I have been asked if I would agree to not be working Monday to Wednesday that week, starting on Thursday and Friday. Personally I found this an unusual query. My manager has a "right hand man" who has the majority of communication with us team members. During my absence that "right hand man" contacted me once but never the team manager. All contact was managed via HR. They wanted me to start earlier and did verbally advise they did not agree with the General Practisionner who signed me off for the last about 10 days.Therefore, I was surprised even more that they are asking me to plan the return in the manner of starting with 3 days at home. The reason given is that I can obtain any support I need, howver, I feel I cannot fully trust in this statement. I have considered and am at a position where I will accept this in order to make the situation. I already have another medical appointment on Friday afternoon meaning I would not be able to provide 2 days work in that week (which I will include in my response) My query is whether I should consider anything else, or ask about something in particular to have a more informed position. Is this common for companies? I find it rather unusual as more employee availability is more beneficial for the company. Also, would those additional days away from work count ask sickleave or is this part of return to work?
Many thanks in advance
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 months ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 months ago.

How long have you worked there for?

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 months ago.

Hi there, it is difficult to specifically advise without knowing what the actual reasons for the employer's decision are. As an immediate observation, I would not be too concerned about this if it is just a one off request that covers the initial few days of your return. I would be more worried if there appears to be an ongoing issue with allowing you to return to work but it is too early to say if that is the case. Unless you have serious concerns about accepting their request, I would say there is no harm in doing so just to make things easier and keep the relationship between you and the employer on a good level. Assuming this request is only concerned with the initial few days of your return, and the rest of your phased return is dealt with reasonably, I would not be too worried overall. Whilst their reasons for the delay may not necessarily be what they say, I do not think there is a sinister side to it.

In terms of whether these initial 3 days would be treated as sick leave, i would check with the company in advance and push for them not to count as that, because after all it is their decision to delay your return and you should not be 'penalised' by having to take more sick leave as a result.

I trust this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars above - this is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you still need me to clarify anything else, please reply on here and I will assist as best as I can. Thank you

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Hi Ben, thank you for getting in touch. I have been full time employed since 2001 and changed roles every few years.
To give you some more insight - I went on maternity leave in Nov 2015. I returned end September 2016 in the believe to return to my old post. 2 weeks prior to return I met my old manager informally who informed me that the team had been dissolved, he would leave the company 2 weeks after my return. The new manager assigned did not acknowledge he would be my new manager for my first 2 weeks while my old manager was still there, not provide information about my scope / work. He confirmed on the 1st day of my old managers absence. Whilst I understand this I am not a friend of being left with low work. This continued and therefore I started looking for another role. At the same time I experienced issues with post natal depression that had been improving but worse worsened by the situation at work. I was given the option to accept a role as service level manager for which I had prepared a project plan to implement this matter within the department - or to take a role I had found as project manager. I wanted to accept the PM role however with the depression and required doctor visits I felt I could not fulfil the role to my best ability and my personal expectation. Therefore I accepted the SLM role and only then learned that a team already existed in another department and they planned for that team to cover both departments. I am the only experienced team member in regards ***** ***** implementation and have been pushing this alongside the rather slow day to day work. There can be busy days at times but most times I am concerned to work efficiently in case there is none left for the next day. I had been told when I joined the team that if I was not busy I need to look for work as it was there. On the other hand it is the case that certain work is kept clear from the team and limited to the Team manager and his right hand man. In December 2018 I started experiencing anxiety attacks on the way to work and was signed off a couple of months ago, which is where my above query connects to. The mental health issues have been holding me back but I am returning more to being myself again and will hopefully have more energy and drive to push through such moments.I agree with your proposal to stay on good terms and will enquire whether those three days are counted as sick leave or not. Thank you.Sadly with the situation disappointing moments (plan to return to work and not being able too although there is good reason on the company side) affect me more than they should and I need to - and want to - ensure that soon this is no longer the case and I can deal with them more quickly and efficiently.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 months ago.

Hi there, I fully understand that even small issues like this can have a great impact on your mental wellbeing when you are already feeling quite vulnerable. In the end, the employer should only do what is best for you, not them - they have a duty to look after you and your health and wellbeing. So if it is not too much of a bother, try to do as they have proposed, but if you believe this will have a greater impact then you need to put your foot down a bit more and spell out to the employer what you need and what would actually be of benefit to you in these circumstances. Hope this clarifies?

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 months ago.

My response to your query should be visible on this page. Could you please let me know if it has answered your original question or whether you need me to clarify anything else in relation to it? If your query has been answered I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating, selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars above. I can still answer follow up questions after that if needed. Thank you