View Full Version : formal capability meeting at work

22-12-14, 19:26
I am new here so firstly, hello :) apologies if this is not the correct forum, i tried to choose one i thought was relevant.
I had an organ transplant some years ago, and now i need to take immunosuppressants to stop my body rejecting the transplanted organ. I also take a steroid, a blood pressure controlling medication and aspirin to lower my risk of strokes etc.
Last week I go a letter from my manager asking me to attend a formal capability meeting with her and a manager from HR and this was because I had 4 instances of short term sickness within a 6 months period.

In the meeting I explained that do to the immunosuppressants, i do end to catch short term illnesses such as colds, sore throats, tummy bugs etc more easily that a person with a healthy immune system and that such illness tend to hang around longer with me due to the reduction in my immune response.

Initially the HR person told me that she thought my short term absences were not as a direct result of my transplant and so did not need to refer me to the Occupational Health department for further assessment and thought the best thing to do was to put me on a 3 month period of monitoring my sickness absence and if things had not improved then i may be referred to the formal hearing stage of the disciplinary procedure.

I almost went along with what she said, but it just did not seem to sit right with me that she said to me that I should be able to meet the targets and that she didn't think it was "worth" referring me to OH. So I mentioned that I felt that it might be good for the company to get a qualified medical professional to decide if those targets are realistic for me or not. My manager chipped in saying that since they have never had to deal with this kind of illness before it might be a good idea.

Although I feel on some level that I did the right thing for myself by speaking up and getting that, I actually feel really awful about it, as if I am some sort of burden and unworthy of the time spent on doing it.

Can anybody tell me if they THINK i have done the right thing? Has anybody been through this before on here who may have some tips of advice to offer about this process? I just feel I don't take time off willy nilly, when I am off, I am feeling really rough and i usually end up going back to work sooner than I probably should because I feel bad about being ill again.

22-12-14, 20:05
All organisations these days have a 'Duty of Care' to their employees.

This can lead to some odd situations when HR are not exactly sure what to do in a particular case.

I think that you did the right thing with asking for occupational health to get involved.
4 short times off in six months does not seem excessive but was obviously enough to trigger their internal review system.

From what you say it looks like the HR person was trying to get you into the company disciplinary process because she was more au-fait with that than with medical issues.
This would be their first stage of getting rid of what they see as a problem they can't be bothered to address correctly.

It also sound like your manager is more on your side than the HR person, at least he admits that he needs more advice.

My view may well be coloured by my negative experience of when I had my employment terminated for health reasons, in what sounds like a similar process.

Anyone else want to give a more positive comment?

22-12-14, 22:00
You're one step from being sacked!

Try to come up with some positive comments to try and make them think you still want to work there!

I used to work for a large organisation that employed tens of thousands of people.

An important part of the HR department is 'sickness monitoring'.

Every section head returns a form telling HR which staff are in, which are on leave, who is sick with permission and who hasn't told their line manager why yhey are off.

All this data is input on a massive database. Each employee's sickness record is monitored. Trends and patterns of sickness are monitored like Mondays off ill. Extra days illness after a holiday etc.

After a while the computer will highlight to HR that you have taken 'X' number of days sick over 6 or 12 months which is not considered satisfactory.

You may have taken some days off to have treatment for your condition. In order for these not to be counted as sick leave you need to ask your manager if these could be taken as 'special leave'. Special leave is authorised leave that doesn't count as illness and so won't tally towards a 'trigger' to say you're taking too much sick leave.

All companies want to reduce their sickness absence figures to show a healthy workforce.

What you will find is that when redundances are planned the first people to go are those with the worst sickness record! You would still be expected to work with a sore throat, tummy ache etc.

Another option would be to say you don't feel well but could work frm home if your job allowed.

For example, during a bitter icy winter it wasn't safe for me to enter work as the car park and paving were covered in ice. As my work could be conducted from home on my own computer my line manager considered working from home was a 'reasonable adjustment' and it was permitted.

Other non-disabled people who didn't try to get into work had to take those missing days as annual leave.

My advice -
- look into special leave for hospital appointments or any 'disability related' problem.
- if you think that some duties could be conducted from home in the short term - ask if you can work from home if possible
- look into working reduced hours if you can afford it.

Good luck

22-12-14, 22:06
Thanks for that reply nukecad. How long did the process take for them to begin looking at your health and termination of your employment? Although what i said sounded like my manager supported me, she was in fact in agreement with the HR manager up until i said I didnt really agree with not seeing OH. I always got the feeling that my manager has never really liked me, having hardly ever spoken to me and has often given me short answers.

22-12-14, 22:14
Lighttouch, thanks for your reply. Hospital appointments are not a problem. We are talking about me calling in sick when I am not well. Because I tend to pick up minor illnesses, my body responds sluggishly to the illness, this tends to hit me quite hard and leaves me very run down. I am an administrator, companies wont usually invest in setting administrators up to work at home, we are not important enough. I cannot afford reduced hours either, i can barely cover the bills with the full time wage that i am on already.

23-12-14, 07:01
Hi I think you've done the right thing, it will definitely be good to get OH advice. (All employers have these rules; my organisation triggers a meeting with HR at the 4th episode of sickness within a 12 month period) There may/should be a sickness policy somewhere; you need to get hold of this and read it.

Are you a member of a union? It doesn't sound like you are, but if so they will be able to support you and your rep will be familiar with any sickness policy. I think it's worth considering Light's advice and thinking if there are any reasonable adjustments that might help. It will be good to discuss this with occ health; I know there is nothing really obvious but there may be something you haven't thought of that would help. Are there any support groups or other services who may be able to help you think through this?

HR were putting you under pressure to agree and sign an unrealistic action plan with attendance targets that are not likely to be achievable; as you say, you are unlikely to be able to stop picking up infections that are about. (Winter must be a nightmare for you.) Your first step is definitely to establish in your company's terms that your sickness is directly related to your long term condition; they are then obliged to consider any reasonable adjustments.

There is a member of the forums, Paul, who we all think of as our resident knowledgable car expert; I think he may also be helpful to your situation. You might have to wait a few days though, he will be busy with Christmas for his daughter! (Paul if you do see this before Christmas I wish you all a very special time!)

23-12-14, 10:55
You have been given some good advice already. LT is right in saying that most employers expect staff to work through colds, sore throats etc. although there are obviously times when that's not possible. If there's a medical reason for you being more seriously affected by something like a cold make sure they are aware of it.

At my workplace any 3 periods of sickness absence (even if just 1 day each) or more than 9 days total in a rolling 12 month period results in a health review. You are then put on sickness monitoring. Further days off will result in further health reviews and get to a 3rd health review and the next step will be a formal meeting to see whether there are grounds for dismissal. The other side of the coin is that all of these meetings are also there to see whether there is anything they can do to support employees so if you think there is anything your employer could be doing but is not doing then do speak up.

Sickness monitoring is taken seriously by most companies as it costs them a lot of money to pay people to not be in work.

23-12-14, 16:58
Many organisations have monitoring for sickness. Its important that the process is transparent and clear to all.

To answer your question I believe you have done the right thing, and unless your employer is a rather harsh one, I don't believe you should have anything to worry about at this stage. Neither the HR Manager or your Manager are medically qualified to make judgements about your health, that is why you have an OH function (even if the managers had medical qualifications it is not their role in this instance)

As a manager I've had to refer people to OH. It wasn't the first step in dismissal but the first step in ensuring they remained fit for work and also, that as a manager I didn't do anything which could have made things worse. I'm not an expert in health matters or employment law so called in the specialist as support. I've also been referred to OH myself, twice.

Regarding, working through coughs and colds. Our department policy is to allow people to work from home if they are fit enough. It helps prevent the possible spread and often the employee returns quicker. Not all businesses or departments can allow people to work from home, but its worth exploring.

23-12-14, 23:32
Thanks for that reply nukecad. How long did the process take for them to begin looking at your health and termination of your employment?

As I said my last employment situation did not end well and I don't want to put anyone else off by that.

Mine was also an odd situation involving the original employer knowing that I had epilepsy before they employed me, the eplipsy gradually morphed into my current, associated but different, condition after 10 years - just at the time when the company got bought out, and bought out again six months later.

Original employers were fine and employed 60 to 80% of employees with health issues, first buyout company did not seem sure but were willing to learn why the original company recognised what we could bring to the workplace.
Second buyout company was a multi-national who knew that their way was the right way; say no more.

So its hard to say exactly, but once that multi-national came on the scene myself and 17 others out of an original workforce of 28 were gone within six months.

27-12-14, 22:32
So its hard to say exactly, but once that multi-national came on the scene myself and 17 others out of an original workforce of 28 were gone within six months.

That's my point. HR will gather statistics about sickness levels and so if there are compulsory redundancies these people will be targeted. It will be called an 'efficiency drive'!!

07-04-15, 06:36
Just to update this thread, i saw the OH doctor and he agreed that my sick leave is very plainly affected by the medication I have to take. In his report he wrote that and he also put that my long term illness is covered by the disability discrimination act. Not quite sure what that means to me. Last week my manager handed me a letter stating that the capability procedure is now closed due to my improved attendance. It goes on to say the procedure will be re-opened should i not be able to reach the company's expectation, e.g. 2 occassions or 4 days in any 6 month period.
In his report their doctor stated that in terms of how much sick leave i would have to take due to my condition could only be estimated by how much i have already had to take off, due to the unpredictable way an illness may be picked up in public places etc.
Does all this make sense and sound right?

10-04-15, 07:00
Anyone able to help with this query as this letter is worrying me because my understanding was that an illness covered by the DDA would not be able to be used as a reason to put someone through a disciplinary procedure, am i right? This letter would suggest I have been subject to a disciplinary procedure!

10-04-15, 07:22
sorry I can't answer your questions but I thought the disability discrimination act was replaced by the Equality Act quite a few years ago (2010?)