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Sick leave for depression, worried about Absence Management process

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MrsMagpie
MrsMagpie Community member Posts: 2 Listener
edited May 2023 in Work and employment
Hi folks.  I’m 54, female, and employed by the Civil Service.

I’ve had depression and anxiety for years - first diagnosed in 2003.  Between 2003-2013 I had several periods of long-term sick leave.  First time I was sent to Occupational Health for an assessment, and they recommended a change of post within the organisation - which happened, and I’ve been in that post ever since.

Anyway…it recurred again recently, and I’ve been off sick almost nine weeks now.  I sent Fit Notes from my doc to work, and my immediate supervisor was fine with that and was like ‘Take all the time you need to get better’.  Got back on a higher dose of my meds (reduced them last year, big mistake), and ended up on more meds because they gave me side-effects.

But, by a couple of weeks ago, my mood, sleep etc. were getting better and I was feeling like I might be up to going back when the second Fit Note ran out (next week).  Then a letter came through the door from my HR department, saying I had to attend an Absence Review meeting.  All very official,  ‘you may bring a Trade Union rep’ and ‘may take formal action’ and all that.

So now I’m really anxious.  I emailed HR, and apparently this is policy.  I knew this process was triggered if you went over 8 days sick leave in a year, or 4 different occasions, but I didn’t think it applied to long-term leave, especially not for a condition that HR has long been aware of and which qualifies as a disability.

They advised me to look through the copy of the policy they sent with the letter, and it said that your line manager can discount the sick leave if they think it’s appropriate.  

I got onto my Trade Union and they said, yes, the manager CAN discount the leave - including due to disability, that would count as a ‘reasonable adjustment’ - and the formal meeting didn’t even have to happen.  I forwarded his advice to my supervisor, but she directed me back to HR.  

Apparently, because of where I work, it’s a special situation, and although my supervisor writes my annual reports etc, my ‘legal’ LM is actually the HR person.  And she was NOT willing to discount the leave.  So then the Union guy explained it to her a bit more officially.  I don’t know if she’s responded to him yet.

I’m having a phone appointment with Occupational Health next week (I consented to this, and I gather it’s a good thing), after which I’m expected back in.  My supervisor won’t be there, but HR lady says she’ll have left me a to-do list to be completed by the time she gets back the following week (which doesn’t sound like how my supervisor would treat me just being back from sick leave…). Generally, the tone of this HR lady’s emails all along has been a bit, well, hostile and snarky.  She told me not to contact my supervisor again, in a way that makes it sound like I’ve been causing her stress.

And this has all made me REALLY anxious.  Like I said a couple of weeks ago I was feeling like I could return to work soon, but this is setting me back…I’m waking up early and not being able to get back to sleep.  I thought about getting another Fit Note from my doc, but the TU guy said if I took any longer off, they’d probably start stage 2 of the procedure without me, and stage 3 when I got back (and stage 3 is dismissal).  So I guess I’ll have to go in.  

Sorry for the essay, folks, but you can see how complicated this is.  Anyone else been in a situation like this and got any reassurance for me?


Comments

  • Cher_Alumni
    Cher_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 5,741 Disability Gamechanger
    edited March 2023
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    Hi @MrsMagpie and a warm welcome to our online community, how are you today?

    I'm sorry your thread was initially missed, and I'm tagging it as 'unanswered' until we garner some responses that can help.

    I'm glad you have a trade union rep supporting you, and yes an occupational health assessment will help identify any reasonable adjustments that could make your transition back to work easier and more manageable for you. 

    I can totally understand this situation piquing your anxiety and I hope you have some helpful coping strategies alongside the medication to help you get through this time. 

    Bear in mind, there's a few resources/organisations that can help around your rights:
    Please keep us posted with how you get on, and if any of our members have similar experiences to share - we'd love to hear them :)
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  • MrsFrank
    MrsFrank Community member Posts: 1 Listener
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    Hi @MrsMagpie - how strange is this I'm a 54 year old Civil Servant and in my second month sick note for anxiety and depression I'm due back 22nd May and was thinking I can do it/this after some CBT sessions and meds.  Just had a message from my boss for an Attendance Management Hearing - OMG I can't tell you how much my levels have instantly raised stomach and brain in overload.  I want to head in the sand hide get another note feel like its set me back I could cry.  How are you just wanted to say hello and give you my support we are not alone really are we when read on things like this I wish us well   
  • Alex_Alumni
    Alex_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,562 Disability Gamechanger
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    Hello @MrsMagpie I know it's been a while since anyone's replied to you, so I just wanted to check in and see how things are going at the moment? :) 
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