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Member Of Staff On Long Term Sick Leave


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Hi all,

 

I have only one member of staff as we are a small pre-school and she is off sick (next week will be week 5) due to a back problem which was pre-existing but has flared up again since she started working in the setting (I did voice many concerns about suitability before she was appointed but was overuled by management committee....). anyway she may come back after easter and I wondered how she will manage and how I can adapt her role so it doesn't affect her health? I can't really see how she can work at all if she has such a bad back when there is only her and me and 12 children. does anyone have any experience of this? she is unqualified and she is not really able to do much paperwork e.g. planning, assessments as she just doesn;t have the ability and experience. I am going to try and speak to her tomorrow and find out what her plans are - so far I have been warned off approaching her by the committee - she is notorious for being manipulative and playing games and they felt it was better if they dealt with her but in fact they are too busy to do anything or contact her at all so I have said I will do it and they have agreed. I am not sure what the legal situation is either.

 

Sorry to ramble!

 

Thanks,

 

L

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As far as I know you have the right to dismiss someone if they are no longer capable of carrying out their job, but you have to be very careful how you deal with it. If she is intending coming back to work, then she would have to fulfil her job remit. Do you have a proper job remit in place and a contract of employment?

 

Employment law is quite a sticky business. The committee may well need to take proper advice on this before taking any further steps.

 

Good luck.

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If your group is a member of the PSLA, use their Lawcall service.they will give you good advice, for free.The other factor is.....how long has she been working for you?If she's still in her probationary period, then you may just be able to get rid of her without too much difficulty??Good luck, and tell your committee to listen to you next time!

Edited by narnia
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All back problems are different and can not be generalised, as she is due back after Easter she must have been seen as fit for returning to the job, so while you may decide to remove some of the heavier lifting from the job, she should be able to do most other things. I think you would need to find out a bit more about her condition and limitations it may set for her and then assess the situation with the committee voicing any concerns and asking how they intend to deal with it, after all they are the employer.

 

If as you say she is known as being manipulative/ playing games, as a safeguard i would suggest that you ensure that you communicate well with the management committee all that happens, and record events so that she cannot play you and the committee against each other.

 

 

As said law call can help advise,

 

Inge

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If there are only 2 of you if she cannot share the work load maybe you should tell that she is not able to do the job. if you had a qualified person it would be better for the children. You will have to look at qualifications some time any way as all staff will need to be qualified by 2010 or something like that, don't quote me on that one.

Who have you had with you while she's been off sick. could that person take over from her.

You need to look at what she is capable of doing when she returns and if it means you are doing most of the work load then, it might be time to have a discussion with her and the chairperson to see where you can go from here, don't forget it's what is right for the children at the end of the day.

Good luck

Steph

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we had a similar problem not long ago we had to get a doctor's note to say she was fit to resume her role, the member of staff also had to answer some question on a tick style sheet saying yes or no to what she was capable of. we were told that she could only return if she was not in danger of causing further damage to her back as we could be held responsable for further injuries. unfortunatly we had to terminate her contract of employment as she was not able to fill the requirements of her position.

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Hi Lena

 

I had a similar situation last year. A member of my staff was on long term sick leave with epilepsy, it went on for 7 months and i did not know from one week to the next whether she would return to work, i couldn't employ someone else in case she did return as i couldn't afford both staff.

 

After taking legal advice from Lawcall and the FSB (i am a member), they suggested i wrote to her doctor and asked when he thought she would be able to return to work, would she ever be fit etc.

 

This letter was very lengthy and i was given a sample by the FSB to use to ensure i used the correct terms and conditions.

 

I had to ask the member of staff's permission (signed) to write to her doctor.

 

The member of staff actually resigned before the doctor replied, but i think all i am trying to say is that it is not an easy situation to deal with, ensure you cover yourself legally by using Lawcall and ask their advice every step of the way.

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I agree that each 'back' case is different, I personally slipped a disc ten years ago, sometimes it flairs up, however it gets better through continual use rather than taking time off, it i very dibilitating at first and I could easily say to an employer I can't move or work yet it is through work (mobility) that it gets better - that is just my example.

 

Agree also with Steph, I have just re-written contracts to include a clause that all employees must reach a certain qualification within a certain timescale to meet the new qualification requirements in 2010.

 

Peggy

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As someone who is currently on long term sick with a bad back I can see both sides. As Peggy points out most times when my back problem occurs I can manage to work through it (painful but bearable) this time it actually terrified me I woke on the Sunday morning with no feeling in my right leg what so ever (also other problems relating to the nerve response I wont go into here )and now 2 months later I still have reduced reflexes and nerve response in this leg although it is improving with the treatment. My doctor and the hospital said returning to work may cause long term damage and recommended that work isn't an option at the moment. I feel frustrated and guilty for not being at work but really don't want to go against medical advice.

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Much same ... been off since Dec.

Having had treatment have managed to return to work part time, working helps keep it mobile, so long as I can stop when the nerve pain kicks in to my legs... have time to recover and then get going again. This is getting less but some days is worse then others. i Just get to do the story reading, songs games which are less active keeping children occupied while others can move the furniture around.

 

still treated weekly now but as it is close to work am able to pop out and return within 15 mins. exercise class is 15 mins at lunch time (core strengthening!), and a parent joins me there as she has a problem too!!.

 

Inge

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I think backs are something we should all take very seriously in early years. Lots of us tend to lift heavy equipment, sit on low chairs, lift children alll of which can cause damage to backs. I agree working to maintain mobility is good but can you do this sort of work without lifting which is the problem causing damage. We are addressiing this in our setting which involves risk analysis of what is safe to lift and what isn't. As an employer surely there is a responsibility not to ask to much in regards to lifting.

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thanks for all your replies and brilliant advice. I spoke to my colleague today and it sounds like she will probably resign as she is starting to realise herself that she can't do the job and her chiropractor has said that to her. the person who has been covering for her is not qualified either and it was never he intention that she work for more than the odd day so I would much prefer someone qualified. the idea of writing a timescale in the contract for gaining a qualification is a good one - I will look into that. There are only two of us most of the time and the work needs to be shared otherwise I will damage my back too!

 

We are members of the PLA so if I don't get something in writing from my colleague very soon I will ring them to see what they say.

 

L

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  • 1 month later...

We have a clause written into our contracts that states that where a member of staff is unable to work due to ill health for a long period of time, (six weeks or longer) we reserve the right to ask for a doctors report, to confirm whether they are still capable of carrying out their duties as set out in their job description. On the result of this will determin if we terminate their contract.

But i must agree that you will have to be very careful and check that you are working within the employment law regulations before dismissing her as she may take it further and you will end up in court with an unfair dismissal case.

Good luck.

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