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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 32086
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have been employed by the Met Police

Customer Question

I have worked for the Met Police as a PCSO for over ten years. My role changed significantly in 2009 to one I have maintained since then as one unsuitable for me, physically or emotionally. There was bullying and threats re quotas and I did suffer a breakdown in 2005. The last four or so years has been intensely stressful and difficult and I believe that I have been deliberately targeted - hoping that I would resign. They recently found a way to guarantee sickness - ten hour shifts and foot patrol - knowing it would exacerbate a long standing back injury. I was eventually turning up for work in intense pain and only able to stand or move with difficulty. They would still post me. I eventually collapsed on the street. The amount of pain killers I was taking resulted in a digestive problems and resulted in a hospital visit. I have now been suspended on the grounds of attendance management and gross misconduct with  the intent to dismiss me.

Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.

Ben Jones : Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Is there a specific policy that they are following which states certain amounts of sickness can result in dismissal? Please note as it is the weekend I am not around full time today so may not be able to respond immediately, thank you
JACUSTOMER-06jhbnuw- :

Not as such. But the recent actions.. I have been on a desk job most of the year, to 10 hr foot patrols in body armour I believe to be quite deliberate. If kept to the 8hr shifts I joined, or with restricted hours to "get back up to speed" the problems would not have arisen. I do believe that it has been quite deliberate, make me sick with the intention of getting me dismissed. There were all kinds of alternative options available, but this one has been pursued with one goal in mind.

Ben Jones :

Hello again, your rights here will mainly depend on whether the condition you are suffering from will amount to a disability.

In the legal sense of the word, disability can have a broad meaning and there is no single list of medical conditions that qualify. Instead, to establish whether a person is disabled, they need to show that they meet the legal definition of a ‘disability’.

The Equality Act 2010 defines a disability as a “physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.

I will break this definition down:

• Physical or mental impairment – this can include nearly any medical condition;

• Substantial effect – the effect must be more than minor or trivial;

• Long-term - the effect of the impairment must either have lasted or be likely to last for at least 12 months;

• Normal day-to-day activities – these could include anything considered ‘normal’ in a person's normal daily routine (e.g. walking, driving, speaking, eating, washing, etc.)

If a person satisfies the above criteria, they will be classified as being disabled and will have automatic protection against discrimination, which means that they must not be treated unfavourably because of their disability. In addition, their employer would have a duty to make reasonable adjustments if they are likely to be placed at a substantial disadvantage when compared to non-disabled employees.

What amounts to ‘reasonable adjustments’ can have a wide interpretation and often depends on the individual circumstances. Below are some examples:

• making adjustments to work premises;

• allocating some of the employee’s duties to others;

• transferring the employee to fill an existing suitable vacancy;

• altering the employee’s hours of work;

• allowing the employee to be absent during working hours for rehabilitation, assessment or treatment connected to their disability;

• acquiring or modifying specialist equipment;

• providing supervision or other support.

If someone who is disabled is being treated unfavourably because of their disability or their employer has failed to make reasonable adjustments it would potentially amount to disability discrimination. The first step would be to raise a formal grievance. The next step would be to consider whether a claim for disability discrimination should be made in an employment tribunal (the time limit for claiming is only 3 months from the date of the alleged discriminatory act taking place).

Whilst you may raise a grievance at this stage, if the employer proceeds with the dismissal then all you can do is appeal their decision and then you may also consider making a claim for unfair dismissal and/or disability discrimination.

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?

JACUSTOMER-06jhbnuw- :

Not sure exactly how this relates to my situation. I do not consider myself disabled, but not up to my "new role and duties". I was a happy and productive member of the organisation but came into conflict with some elements of management regarding bullying. This has followed me around. I have just received the case papers for my dismissal hearing on 19 Feb. Pretty much as expected, very focused on recent events, very one sided. My past service has been totally ignored along with all the positive aspects of my ten years. Just the last couple of years of intense stress and depression. I have gone sick when unable to work, I have worked when clearly not in any condition to be out on the streets in uniform - and have even collapsed on the street. I do believe the decision to dismiss me was made a long time ago, and they found the 10hr foot patrols and ideal way to force the issue. I intend to appeal it, and will continue to seek advice.

Ben Jones :

The disability was referring to your back injury - you do not have to be registered disabled to be disabled under law. Do you not meet the conditions I mentioned earlier to be classified as disabled based on how the condition affects you?