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Monitoring staff health and a concern about over the counter medicine


Lyanne
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Our old manager didn't keep records of why staff were absent, unless a training course was logged on the calendar, we signed in & out and she used the sign in sheets for calculating wages and that was it. We didn't get sick pay, and looking back, she wasn't doing holiday pay right either.

 

So we've started logging absence from this year, and of course like everything else in childcare, it's a work in progress!

 

We log absence for staff member's sickness, for appointments (proof required) that can't be easily made outside of working hours, child's sickness, and anything else as it comes up.

 

We can now easily log staff sickness and track patterns, and discuss excessive amounts of sickness with staff as stated in our staff sickness policy.

 

Discussing this has led us to thinking about getting a breathalyser in case anyone comes to work apparently drunk, and discussing random drug test for illegal drugs (we don't have a concern about these, but while we're revising the policies using PLA's new policies, it seems a good time to think about adding these in too).

 

But what could we do if we had a concern about a member of staff and problems with over the counter medicines?

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if i was concerned about ANY member of staff they would be suspended on full pay while we investigated . I don't believe we have any legal right to do anything further at that point

 

But how would we be able to investigate a possible addiction to painkillers? :mellow:

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if i was concerned about ANY member of staff they would be suspended on full pay while we investigated . I don't believe we have any legal right to do anything further at that point

 

That was my first thought too.......but we are a rather 'mature' staff team........so my next thought was........well s'pose we could be 'high' on HRT - no that's naughty I'm being flippant now!

 

In all seriousness I'm fairly sure that 'breathalyser testing' would infringe some sort of 'human right'......

 

If you 'suspect' a staff member has an addiction to painkillers - is it something that is affecting his/her work - if not then I would suggest, with respect, that it's not your 'problem' or indeed any of your 'business' really......

 

Is this something that could be addressed at a staff supervision?

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But how would we be able to investigate a possible addiction to painkillers? :mellow:

Why do you think this? If she is taking medicine at work ours has to be kept in a locked cupboard....you would then be able to monitor how often she is taking them. Does she have a reason for taking them? If you have concerns then it is your duty to discuss this with her...do you have any worries about her work? does she drive for work? or does she operate any equipment? (probably not but ???)

This could signify some mental health issues....i guess you need to have a conversation, she may need support.

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Do you do an annual health declaration and return to work interviews after sickness - both of these will flag any changes or issues with medications, and this can then open up the conversation about usage /safety /fitness for work etc. If a person signs these stating there are no issues/meds and you find out otherwise this gives you the opportunity to advance disciplinary procedures as they have lied to you. And don't forget to write down and record all conversations as you go. As for the drinking/drugs and coming in to work - the breathalyser etc. couldn't really be options as it does infringe human rights,and there are issues about accuracy, but as long as it states it in your sickness or health and safety policy, you can send a person home with no pay if you suspect either.

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If you go and read any medication leaflet in the world they will probably tell you they can make you drowsy or not to drive. On that basis I woldn't be able to work EVER as I have to take daily medication for a chronic condition.

 

Out of curiosity - where does this start to become intrusion by your employer?? I doubt that any employer would have any understanding of my condition/medication, so me telling them it's changed for example would have no meaning for them at all.

Medication can suddenly create unforseen side effects - how would this constitute lying if you had previously said you were OK. I'm taking exactly the same medication as I was taking when I started my job but am only now getting side effects 10 years on - does that mean I lied when I started the job???

 

Do you have to have access to occupational health as a standard part of your policies and procedures??

 

Cx

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Why do you think this? If she is taking medicine at work ours has to be kept in a locked cupboard....you would then be able to monitor how often she is taking them. Does she have a reason for taking them? If you have concerns then it is your duty to discuss this with her...do you have any worries about her work? does she drive for work? or does she operate any equipment? (probably not but ???)

This could signify some mental health issues....i guess you need to have a conversation, she may need support.

 

She was off (again), this time with 'flu' - it was not influenza but a bad cold. (I'm not dismissing how horrible a bad cold feels, but real flu feels a lot worse. I told the GP I thought I had meningitis as I felt so ill...) She then took so much paracetamol and ibuprofen that she made herself ill with them, so had to recover from that. Ok, that's unfortunate, but I can understand how hard it is to remember when you took medicine when feeling ill.

 

So we discussed strategies of writing down when she takes either so she doesn't have to try to remember, the advice of GP that she really must now stop smoking, how she can get support with that, talked about finding out what help the Stop Smoking clinic can give, and releasing her with pay as needed to attend the clinic.

 

Then she hurt herself at work, and said she couldn't take more paracetamol as she'd had some earlier, then 30 minutes later (2 hours before she could take more medication) was begging me to let her have medication. I said if it hurt so much she could go to A&E or go home, and explained how we'd support whatever she wanted to do, except letting her make herself ill by taking more medication.

 

Talking it over with other manager so she knew what was going on, we were both really not happy with the situation, but nothing specific enough to say 'Suspended...'

 

...you can only suspend on FULL pay until you have investigated i believe!!

 

Hollow laugh... I know we can only suspend on full pay pending investigations... That said, you can get the investigation done very quickly if you've evidence and it's severe.

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She was off (again), this time with 'flu' - it was not influenza but a bad cold. (I'm not dismissing how horrible a bad cold feels, but real flu feels a lot worse. I told the GP I thought I had meningitis as I felt so ill...)

 

So wouldn't you refer to occupational health on the basis of her absence record? That way the medical professionals can consult and make decisions based on their knowledge. Unless it was a qualified medic, I'm afraid I wouldn't let any employer make health related decisions for me or about me.

 

Cx

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I wasn't talking about suspension per se. just the occasion where a staff member turns up for work with a hangover or under the influence of non -prescription drugs, and is unfit for work through their own doing, they get sent home and lose a days pay.

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Ok imo if you feel that your member of staff is under the influence of drugs or alchohol they should be suspended pending disciplinary procedures. She should not be looking after children in this situation (catma i am obviously talking about a person who has clearly taken too much medication or alchohol... i assume your employer knows about your condition and the effects it may have on you and your tolerence levels ) Your policy presumably states this somewhere... i would think most of us have no access to occupational health . Staff with a severe hangover are still drunk! they should be sent home with pay until you can get them in for a disciplinary meeting and then give them written or final warnings.

Perhaps this information will be enough to get her to stop now before she loses her job?

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So wouldn't you refer to occupational health on the basis of her absence record? That way the medical professionals can consult and make decisions based on their knowledge. Unless it was a qualified medic, I'm afraid I wouldn't let any employer make health related decisions for me or about me.

 

Cx

 

Ah, brilliant, I hadn't thought of occupational health! I don't (as finleysmaid suggests) have direct access to them, but we do all have access to them through the 'net - have found these links on a quick search http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/ohindex.htm which I'll be printing some off from work. And we'll use that as a starting point. If we were an LA setting, we could do a straight referral to Occupational Health, but I don't know how we could as a PVI setting... Will have to give that some more thought.

 

I wasn't talking about suspension per se. just the occasion where a staff member turns up for work with a hangover or under the influence of non -prescription drugs, and is unfit for work through their own doing, they get sent home and lose a days pay.

 

Ah yes, that's different from a pattern, which would need more action. Luckily enough, we've not had a problem with that, though I'd suspect that sometimes calls in sick have been self inflicted sickness...

 

Ok imo if you feel that your member of staff is under the influence of drugs or alchohol they should be suspended pending disciplinary procedures. She should not be looking after children in this situation (catma i am obviously talking about a person who has clearly taken too much medication or alchohol... i assume your employer knows about your condition and the effects it may have on you and your tolerence levels ) Your policy presumably states this somewhere... i would think most of us have no access to occupational health . Staff with a severe hangover are still drunk! they should be sent home with pay until you can get them in for a disciplinary meeting and then give them written or final warnings.

Perhaps this information will be enough to get her to stop now before she loses her job?

 

We have various staff who take medication either occasionally (eg antibiotics) or constantly (my inhalers) or both (again, inhalers) which potentially impact our ability to work. And I guess communication is the best way we've handled them till now! One person (not the one causing concern) had strong painkillers prescribed which would knock her out - on her back to work chat we agreed that if she needed to take them, she'd go home (no choice, she left them there) and stay home, with no penalties. Those of us with asthma try to avoid the dustiest tasks, & I get someone else to empty the hoover when possible.

 

Waffling a bit, as I do feel we do our best when people tell us what's up, but of course if she does have an addiction, that's a lot easier to say talk about it than to do it.

 

Will go through the policies & pull out the relevant stuff & follow through. I hope we can help her get sorted!

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I'm taking malaria tablets right now for my holiday - side effects could be horrendous, not sure it'll get me the next 2 weeks off work though!!! Or the 4 after christmas for that matter!

 

(catma i am obviously talking about a person who has clearly taken too much medication or alchohol... i assume your employer knows about your condition and the effects it may have on you and your tolerence levels )

 

I know, but as someone who manages a long term condition with constant medication and who has been through the whole OH rigmarole I get a bit button pressed when the idea of non medics making decisions about medical issues comes up!!!

 

Cx

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as an aside and something to think about...

 

paracetamol overdose is so easy to do and has disastrous consequences as it is not obvious until well after the overdose has occurred..it can take days for the reaction and causes liver damage which can be fatal. having nursed several who have done this in the past it is something I would not want anyone to go through, it was one of the worst nursing experiences ever.. and often it was because they had not followed the instructions on the packet and thought a few more will not matter. If picked up soon enough here is an antidote that can be given but the symptoms often follow too long after the overdose for it to work, the damage is done 'behind the scenes' while feeling ok. it is one of the over the counter medicines thought to be safe but is far from it if taken in wrong doses..

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2152564/Millions-risk-overdosing-paracetamol-ignoring-recommended-daily-limit.html

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this is a step tooooo far, you have forms to declare on health matters and that where it ends unless the practitioner is not performing due to drug misuse etc then you have a disaplinary procedure

 

When you say forms to declare on health matters, which forms do you mean? I'm at home now and can't remember everything we've got in the office, but the forms we use when people have been off sick don't have anything about being fit for work now, just off from X to Y, seen GP if needed, what they were off with.

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When you say forms to declare on health matters, which forms do you mean? I'm at home now and can't remember everything we've got in the office, but the forms we use when people have been off sick don't have anything about being fit for work now, just off from X to Y, seen GP if needed, what they were off with.

 

This would be the annual declaration on health etc.

Joanne

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  • 1 month later...

I have another question to add

My manager has just been on some safer recruitment training and has been told that any staff taking prescribed medicines has to get a letter from their doctor saying they are fit for work!!!!

Has anyone heard anything regarding this as I think she has misinterpreted what she heard

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I have another question to add

My manager has just been on some safer recruitment training and has been told that any staff taking prescribed medicines has to get a letter from their doctor saying they are fit for work!!!!

Has anyone heard anything regarding this as I think she has misinterpreted what she heard

 

I haven't heard of this at all ....... is it mentioned in the Statutory Guidance?

 

If not - and I will have a look later as I'm not entirely sure myself.......then ignore - I'm getting a little 'tired' of all of these 'extras' being added........

 

I can't imagine how much my docs would charge for any such letter :o

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