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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 49821
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Dear Ben I am 59 years of age. I have worked in a full time

Customer Question

Dear Ben Jones
I am 59 years of age. I have worked in a full time capacity earning £37,750 gross for a company for the past 3.5 years. I was injured in an RTA 18 months ago and after a short period of sickness I returned to work but my symptoms gradually worsened until I couldn't work any longer and went sick in April 2016. I have now been off sick for the past 6 months and will soon come off company sick pay and go onto SSP only.
I have used my private health plan to see consultants and specialists since going sick to try and obtain a diagnosis and treatment plan to allow me to return to work. I exhausted the £2,000 policy limits in the year 2015-2016 and again 2016-2017 and I've paid £1,5000 from my own pocket chasing a diagnosis.
On Thursday last week (the day before I was due to see the Consultant to get the test results) I was informed by my manager that our company is restructuring and although we are now in a period of consultation my team will almost certainly be made redundant.
When I saw the Consultant I learnt the condition that is stopping me from working is Fibromyalgia and while it may clear up it is just as likely to last for years.
I have a Personal Health Insurance policy which will pay me a percentage of my salary for as long as I am unable to return to work; until I'm aged 65yrs.
I've now seen an Occupational Health Consultant who agrees I am unlikely to be fit enough to return to work in the foreseeable future and who has suggested to my employers that they consider early retirement. In his opinion my case would be covered by the disability provisions within the Equality Act 2010.
My employer states that if I take early retirement I will only get a very small pension and that I would be better-off to stay on sick leave and be paid my partial salary under the cover provided by my PHI policy and then, if & when I'm well enough to return to work, the redundancy would kick in.
They assure me I could not be made redundant and thereby lose the protection I currently would receive from the PHI policy.
I have read that you can still be made redundant even if you are on long term sick leave so was that bad advice? If not, why not?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today. Would the PHI only cover you whilst you are employed by the company?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
See attached documents.Information copied from PHI brochure:-What if I leave?
No benefit is payable after you leave the Company’s employment, take early retirement or reach Normal Retirement Date.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

You can certainly be made redundant whilst off sick but that does not mean the employer has to do it. It does appear that the PHI does not apply once your employment terminates so whilst you can seek early retirement you will only be able to rely on your pension and savings as there will be no more sick pay or PHI pay.

So it could be that the employer is simply looking after you in a way that they are deciding not to make you redundant now and allow you to remain on sick pay or receive PHI. This is even if they can actually make you redundant now if they wanted to.

The only thing is that once you are well enough to return to work there is no guarantee that they will make you redundant, especially if there is a job for you. So the other option is to apply for voluntary redundancy now and still receive redundancy pay but knowing that you will not get sick pay or PHI.

I hope this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars - 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 get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
If, as I thought from my own research, my employer could make me redundant while I'm off sick but the HR Dept have told me if I don't take the early retirement option they will not make me redundant are they bound by that? I can't help suspecting they will get me to give up the option to retire (with a small pension) and then just make me redundant (costing them only £2,200 instead of the ongoing small pension). How can I bind them to keep me on long-term sick?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

the truth is that you cannot guarantee that. Whatever you agree with them, they cannot be forced to keep you on if they can justify a fair reason for dismissal, such as redundancy. So you will have to take their word on this and hope that they do not proceed with it

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, I see you have read my response to your query. If this has answered your question please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars from the top of the page. I spend a lot of time and effort answering individual queries and I am not credited for my time until you leave your rating. If you still need further help please get back to me on here and I will assist as best as I can. Many thanks.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, do you need any further assistance or are you happy with the above response? Look forward to hearing from you.