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Health Capability Meeting

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Hspring1
Hspring1 Community member Posts: 7 Listener
edited February 2022 in Work and employment
Hi everyone,

I've been off work since October last year with mental health problems, anxiety and depression. I have been communicating with my manager at work on a regular basis via email and sent in my sick notes. My manager is aware of what I am going through and I have disclosed my anxiety and depression. Also I have got mobility issues. My manager contacted me over the phone and asked me how I was. I was honest and said that I have not fully recovered but would like to return to work but would need to discuss my fitness to return to work with my Doctor. I told my manager that my doctor has suggested a phased return to work. My manager said that there is not enough detail on the sick note. I agreed to contact my doctor to obtain more detail about the phase return. I couldn't get an appointment with the doctor at the time unfortuantely. I now have a letter and have sent it in.  My manager said that he can do a gradual increase of hours for me but I had to fully  resume by the end of the month and there is no extra time that I can be given. I said that I might not be able to fully recover by the end of the month. My manager suggested an Occupational health assessment, I said that I was not keen to do it and have been told by Acas that it is not compulsory.  Then my manger said that it was in my contract and I had to attend. Later on I was sent a paragraph from the sickness policy. It said: 

"If capability is related to sickness or where there is a medical factor affecting performance, then the manager should refer the employee to the Occupational Health Service for advice. Personnel will be able to provide advice on complex cases as appropriate."

I then agreed to an OH appointment. I was worried that I would loose my job. My manger emailed me to book an OH appointment. I confirmed that via email and spoke on the phone to OH several times. I was happy to attend.

A week later, I received a letter  and email informing me of my Health Capability Meeting. I contacted my manger and asked why I was going down the Capability route. I haven't even had my OH appointment as yet. I cannot believe that I have to attend. I know that this will be on my file and I am worried that I would get the sack if I fall ill due to my disability. There was no mention of health capability meetings during our correspondence on the phone and email.

Please can I have some advice and has anyone been through this? It's making me feel very anxious and depressed.

Thank you!


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Comments

  • janer1967
    janer1967 Community member Posts: 21,964 Disability Gamechanger
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    Hi and welcome to the community 

    This type of meeting is normal practice and is an opportunity to discuss both your and employers concerns regarding your capability to return to work.  It can be a chance to discuss any reasonable adjustments you may need and for them to agree what is required going forward . It isn't always a bad thing 

    If employees are absent for long periods then it is normal to have to discuss this it doesn't mean you are about to be dismissed 

    I suggest you request a copy of the absence management policy and capability policy to ensure this is being followed 

    You may want to look at acas website for advice too 

    You are obliged to attend these sort of meeting if requested just like your employers are obliged to follow their policies 

    Just see how it goes and then if any concerns get further advice 
  • Hspring1
    Hspring1 Community member Posts: 7 Listener
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    Thank you Janer, I'll try not to worry. I was concerned because when I've been off in the past, I usually just have a chat with my manager and then an OH appointment will follow. I've never had a member of HR envolved. 
  • janer1967
    janer1967 Community member Posts: 21,964 Disability Gamechanger
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    I was a hr manager for 30 years and this is just normal procedure and in most cases is part of a normal attendance management process 

    Let me know how it goes 
  • Hspring1
    Hspring1 Community member Posts: 7 Listener
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    I will Janer, thank you!
  • Tori_Scope
    Tori_Scope Scope Posts: 12,507 Disability Gamechanger
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    Welcome to the community @Hspring1 :) I'm glad that janer1967 has been able to put your mind at rest a little! I hope that the appointment goes well. Definitely do let us know how you get on.

    I'm sorry to read that you've been struggling with your mental health of late. It's good that you've been in touch with your GP about it, as that can be a really positive first step in accessing the right help. Do you feel as though you're receiving enough support to help you manage your mental health outside of work at the moment?
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  • Hspring1
    Hspring1 Community member Posts: 7 Listener
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    Hi Tori,
    It's been really difficult but my doctor is really understanding. I'v been referred to my local NHS counselling service, it's done online. I can't afford to go private unfortunately. Not sure how long the sessions would last for but I have been offered cbt. I'm hoping that the OH doctor will be understanding  about my mental health.
  • Tori_Scope
    Tori_Scope Scope Posts: 12,507 Disability Gamechanger
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    I'm sure that the number of sessions varies from person to person @Hspring1. The NHS page on CBT says:
    If CBT is recommended, you'll usually have a session with a therapist once a week or once every 2 weeks.

    The course of treatment usually lasts for between 5 and 20 sessions, with each session lasting 30 to 60 minutes.
    I'm sure this is something they'll discuss with you when you start :)

    I'd hope that the OH advisor would be understanding! They're there to help find solutions, so fingers crossed it'll be a positive experience. 
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  • Hspring1
    Hspring1 Community member Posts: 7 Listener
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    Thanks Tori, 

    I had my OH appointment with a Doctor. The doctor appeared to be understanding. Explained to me that I need time off work and feels that I should be able to return ( in 2 months time) with specific adjustments in place and counselling sessions also. In the referral form, my work wanted to know whether my depression and anxiety fell under the remit of the DDA. I have had it for more than 10 years , the doctor noted it in the report. However, the Doctor did advise my manager that I was not fit to return to work as yet and wanted to allow time for the new med'  dosage to work and then I can return to work. The doctor did point out to me that she cannot predict the outcome of the capability and that work might chose to go down the route of dismissal. Also, strongly advised to to get my Union involved. The doctor put in the report that adjustments are subject to organisational feasibility. This has left me feeling uncertain. My workplace might decide that they cannot do the adjustments.  I haven't had my capability meeting as yet. I still fell as if I'm being punished for having a disability. Am I the only disabled person going through this? I feel as if it is only happening to me, I'm trying to remain positive but they're not really disabled friendly at work. There's no disabled policies and no mention of Disability Leave. I would really appreciate hearing back from anyone who has been through a similar experience. 
  • Ross_Alumni
    Ross_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,652 Disability Gamechanger
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    Hello @Hspring1

    Thanks for your response, I hope you are well this Saturday lunchtime.

    It sounds as though you have a very supportive GP, which is great, and they appear to be doing everything they can to support you.

    I totally understand why it feels as though you're the only person going through it, when something like this happens it can feel quite lonely. However, instances such as this one do happen to many disabled people, who perhaps have employers who aren't as disability aware as they should be in 2022. 
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  • Hspring1
    Hspring1 Community member Posts: 7 Listener
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    Thank you Ross.
  • JaneC_
    JaneC_ Community Volunteer Adviser Posts: 21 Connected
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    Hi @Hspring1, I hope you are managing ok with such a difficult situation?

    I’m glad to see you’ve got a supportive GP and had good advice from @janer1967. I have dealt with such situations both as a manager and a union representative and confirm all that she says.

    I also would encourage you get the absence management policy and capability policy as she suggested, to ensure these are being followed and you know what should happen. It might help you prepare for the meeting.

    Also if your in a union please do contact them for support. If not you could as to take a colleague with you to the meeting as a companion - this should be outlined in the policy. 

    If the policy or company are unclear about this, you could ask that a friendly supportive colleague attend as a reasonable adjustment under the equality act. Having someone to support you in the meeting might help it feel less scary and lonely, especially as they can be there to help you remember what is said. 

    I hope the meeting goes well and do let us know how you get on.

    Take care


  • Hspring1
    Hspring1 Community member Posts: 7 Listener
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    Sorry for the late response. Thank you Jane C.  

    This is a follow on to my previous posts.  I'm now back at work and have a follow up meeting soon. I'm on a phased return , (which I had to fight to get in place) and they will gradually increase my hours until I'm back to my working hours. My boss does not want the phased return to last for more than 1 month. They want to consider the 3 options under their capability procedure: 
    • If my sickness level improves and is satisfactory, there would be a meeting with me, my boss, hr and union rep. A letter would be placed on my file confirming this but they will continue to monitor my sickness level for 6 months. 
    • If they find that I have time off after the review period, for any form of sickness, they will take formal action against me, they will give me a verbal warning first.
    • If they feel that there is room for improvement, then an extension of the review will be put in place and again will be monitored. If no improvement then it will go to stage 2.
    I have told them about my operation which I have turned down twice because of the health capability but my boss said that I need to have this operation outside of work time on my holidays. I am concerned now as I feel that there policies are putting me at a disadvantage and sometimes I do get ill because of my disability. I think it's time for me to look for another job soon. Their policies do not mention disability related illness/absence. I asked them about it and was told that it is not needed. I asked them about disability leave, they were unsure about what it was.

    When I returned to work, I discovered that someone had been given a position that I was asking for as part of my reasonable adjustment. I had been requesting this position for over a year and I had watched others been offered this post, (there were several vacancies over the years). This made me upset.

    I do feel that I am being discriminated against. They (HR and my boss), have given me a reasonable adjustment but have said it is temporary until I get better. I have been given 1 month to resume back to my normal working hours, so it feel that they will extend the review period. My disability is permanent and will never get better. I'm feeling a bit lost and stressed. All of the above points was taken from my capability procedure at work, I have just reworded it. Please can anyone offer me a bit of advice.  Thank you!
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