New to community - advise please re: remaining annual leave entitlement after long term sick leave
Hope you're all ok and doing well.
I hope you don't mind me posting a discussion/query on here. I wonder if anyone could possibly help. I'd be very grateful :-)
I've had a chronic health condition since Sept 2016 which affects my mobility and I am in constant pain. I have issues with my pelvis, hip and tendons and am awaiting treatment, which unfortunately is delayed due to Covid.
I have been in full time work under the same employer since November 2015. I have only had 1 period of sickness due to my condition which was when it initially started (the sickness absence was Sept 2016 - Feb 2017). Since then I have tried to manage my condition and have remained in full time work and had no other periods of sickness due to my condition.
My condition took a turn for the worse in December 2019 when I was in work and I was sent home from work. I was off work from Dec 2019 and returned to work via a phased return on 8th June 2020. The phased return ended on the 3rd July.
When I returned to work, I had 12 days annual leave that I had not taken due to falling ill. When I returned to work I asked my manager could I take these 12 days annual leave and use some of my new annual leave entitlement for 2020/21 to reduce my working hours each week - this is due to my chronic health condition as I would not be able to sit for 8 hours straight at a PC and due to mobility issues cannot walk far or drive. I am on a 37.5 hours a week NHS contract.. Work have agreed that I can use annual leave to reduce my working week going forward.
I was worried that I was not well enough to work full time and this was the only solution I could come up with, rather than remain off work.
I instigated the return to work and referred myself to occupational health. Whilst being off I ensured I sent my fit notes to work on time and updated them with my condition and appointments etc. I work in a nursing team (although I am not clinical) so whilst I appreciate they were exceptionally busy due to covid, I haven't had any welfare visits or proper check ups during my time off and no updates about policies/processes.
I received a phone call today from a manager at work, who advised that HR have confirmed that due to me returning from sick leave after the financial year, I am only entitled to 5 days annual leave and not the 12 I had remaining.
I am very upset about this as work have not communicated this information to me at any point whilst I was off on sick leave and no point since I've returned to work - (I have been back in work for 6 weeks now). I was relying on the 12 days I had left to reduce my working weeks for several months as there is no date for my treatment yet, no guarantee it will work and no guarantee the appointment won't get postponed further. Even though I am using annual leave to reduce my working hours, I'm working Mon-Fri but doing less hours, so I am not truly having any 'annual leave' time off from work..
I have queried the decision behind this and asked it to be confirmed this in writing, as my issues are:
*Has this been applied to all staff across the organisation
*When did this commence and how/when was it communicated to managers and staff - if managers had to query this, specifically in my case and didn't know the process/'rules' then it is obviously not currently in place or the 'norm' for returning to work from sick leave as managers weren't aware
*Is this an NHS Terms and Conditions update, a local update or managers discretion
*If managers have only just had this confirmed with HR and did not know prior to my return, how could this have been applied fairly to everyone across the organisation
*I am aware of staff members who have been on LTS but within this financial year - subsequently they will not fall under this 'rule' and will still be entitled to take their full leave entitlement by end of March 2021 - this doesn't seem fair
I just wanted to ask other peoples opinion and ask for some advise please, maybe you have experienced this or aware of this ruling with leave?
Also I'm not sure if there are other questions I should raise or what else I can query to challenge this. My other query is why have they not notified me at any point of my sickness absence of this, as it has really upset me today being advised this.
To be honest I'm not 100% sure of my rights, especially as I have a long term health condition and wondered if anyone would be able to help or advise.
I've rang the union today and they will hopefully ring me back next week to discuss but thought in the interim I'd ask the group.
I've been suffering with my mental health due to being housebound and unwell because of my condition, and one of the reasons I wanted to return to work in some way was to feel useful and have a sense of purpose (as silly as that may sound).
I'm already dealing with so much, mentally and physically. I'm wondering if this is worth the battle already - often when work make a decision they never change it and I fear by challenging this I'll get a 'mark' against my name for being difficult!
Thank you so much for any help you can offer :-) I genuinely am very grateful and appreciative