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Jenny, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor specialising in Employment Law and general legal matters. Please start your question For Jenny Only
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A colleague at work has been called in first formal absence

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A colleague at work has been called in for a first formal absence review meeting. I will be accompanying her as a work colleague.
The documentation sent to her as the basis for the meeting is factually inaccurate.
It says she has had 11 days sickness in a 12 month rolling period but it is in fact only 9 days.
It also says that she had an Informal Absence review with the Principal of the school in Feb 2015. This meeting was actually held between her and her LIne manager (who is not the Principal) .
This formal meeting is to be chaired by a Vice Principal who is neither her manager nor the Principal. Her line manager will not be in attendance at the meeting.
At the informal meeting in Feb 2015, the notes state that her attendance would be monitored for a period of 12 weeks. During which her sickness would be monitored and an improvement needed to take place.
It was 10 months later before she had two further sick days.
The sickness policy has clear stages and it is our view that they have ignored their policy and jumped ahead to a formal meeting which cannot be justified.
The Sickness Absence policy states the Trigger for action is 8 days in any 12 month rolling period.
We would be grateful for any advice as to what should be said on her behalf at the formal meeting.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
For example, can she request that the formal interview and all reference to it be removed permanently from her record?
Hello my name is ***** ***** I am happy to help you today. How long has your colleague worked there for and what is the reason for the sickness absence?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Over two years.
There was a 7 day period of absence in Feb 2015 covered in full by a GP certificate for Bronchitis and sinusitis. then a 2 day absence in December 2015 for a cold.
Has she raised the fact that there is an inaccuracy in the number of days absence they have calculated. Has she been told what the outcome of the meeting could be?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The letter asking her to attend the formal meeting advises that it could result in a first written warning. Though it looks as if it is just a standard letter.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Actualy, she tld me today that the HR Manager did admit ther verbally that she Knows that the number of days is wrong but there has been nothing in writing since that conversation to correct the error, The meeting is in two days time.;
Please bear with me while I prepare a response
Hi as the procedure states that action will be taken if there are more than 8 days absence in a 12 month rolling period then the fact that the number of days is incorrect does not prevent the employer from having the right to hold the meeting. Your friend should ask, at the meeting, for an acknowledgement that the number of days are incorrect. You state in your original question that you do not think they have followed policy in calling this meeting but I am not clear, other than the incorrect number of days, how they have breached policy. If you would like to clarify this I can comment further. In general terms the employer can take action even for genuine absences. Persistent short term absence can be a ground for disciplinary action and ultimately dismissal if there is not an improvement Please do let me know if you require any further help, especially in regard to the point about failure to follow policy? If I have answered your question I would be grateful if you would take the time to rate my answer. Thank you and all the best
Hello is there anything further you would lie to know as I can see you have not yet rated my answer which is an important part of the process?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank You JennyRe: Not following Policy.The Stages for Management Action within the Policy are:At a Trigger point of 8 days in a rolling 12 month period - Line Manager to Invite employee in for Informal Absence Reveiw.
At this meeting the employee is to be given a specified period during which their sickness absence will be monitored, if no significant improvement, then Line manager can instigate a First Formal Absence Review. ( which was the action taken in this case)At the informal absence review in Feb 2015, my colleague was told that her absence would be reviewed for a period of 12 weeks.She did not take sickness absence again for 9 months, ie December 2015.Her sickness record for the past 15 months is 3 occasions, Sept 2014 - 2 days, Feb 2015 7 days with severe Bronchitis and 2 days December 2015.It is our belief that at best she should only have faced another informal absence review and not a Formal managment action.
Given that, following the informal review she was in compliance with the 12 weeks period, the policy does not follow that if she has any other sickness absence within the next 12 months rolling period that she shoudl receive a First Formal Review.It was very interesting at the meeting. When we challenged this point, the HR Manager who was there to advise on Policy asked for an adjournment of the meeting as she wasnt sure whether the policy she sent to my colleague was the right one!!!So ,my follow up question is, we know that Management hold the cards, can do what they like with things like this. They dont even have to have a policy, BUT at an ET if they have a Policy that they demand staff sign to say they have read it, they really need to stick to it don't they?
Yes that's right an ET would expect them to adhere to their policy otherwise the outcome would be procedurally unfair. I would be grateful if you would kindly remember to rate my answer. I will be happy to answer any follow on questions.
Jenny and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
It gets worse!
Following the meeting, the Principal was appraised of the points we made by the HR Manager who was at the meeting. The Principal was not at the meeting.He then called my colleague in to his office, (without affording her the opportunity of representation), asked a few questions and then said that he has instructed that he will make the decision as to "what's fair" in her situation.
That's NOT a stage in the policy.I'm more than happy to continue to support/Rep my colleague in this matter, do you think that we still have the upper hand re: following procedure?
All you can do is appeal against any outcome on the basis it is procedurally unfair and raise a grievance.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Ok. Thanks Jenny
An additional element to being prcocedurally unfair is:At the meeting the HR Manager said, "Everyone who has had 8 days sickness within rolling 12 months has been called in".
I said that I can categoricaly can state that , that is not true ( I myself have had 24 days absence in less than the past rolling 12 months)
I was not called in!!
Yes that is unfair and is an example of why if your colleague is dismissed it would be unfair.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
They asked who I might mean, I said, " You re the ones who have decided find out!"
Exactly be careful not to drop yourself in it.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Trust me :-) , this is not the only thing they get wrong and I am not in any way intimidated by them. But on this occassion, in my desire to support a well respected colleague, I appreciate your legal appraisal and advice on the situatin.
I have rated you and hope you will recieve the payment.
Yes thank you I will. I appreciate it. All the best.