Managing absence policy stage 1 or supportive employers

Hi, I was just wondering how many of you have found yourself being put on stage 1 of the managing sickness policy at work? Am I just the lucky one!!!
Two more stages left, I am likely to need more treatment so am likely to be dismissed at some stage. Oh the joy of bc



I am not really sure what Stage 1 means, but my employers have been fantastic and very supportive, they even paid for my wig for me and on one of my feeling well weeks they arranged for us all to go out for tea and paid for that! I have been off work for nearly 4 months now and am still on full pay, I think ths will drop down to half pay this month though! But there is no pressure on me to return to work they have told me it’s entirely up to me and when I feel well enough! I guess I am lucky really xx

Hi, am pleased your employers are supportive. Mine are following the managing absence a work policy as advised by hr. Essentially stage one us a formal meeting involving hr…i took my union. If my absence doesnt improve I will be moved to stage 2 and then final stage = dismissal. This is the hr approach where I work! Start after half term on a phased return. Worried I wont cope :frowning:

Not sure what stage 1 is Buffy or there was such a policy but I am sorry that your work are not being supportive. I know it’s tricky replacing teaching staff but you didn’t ask to have this.

Most companies have some sort of managing absence policies. I was just curious to see if other companies are going down this route. I think my place of work seem to be fairly unique! I return after half term. Xxx

Hi Buffy
My company also have this policy just received letter re unacceptable absence lovely isn’t it NOT. This is my second time and first time had same thing and I went into work through chemo to stop my sick leave although I only did 1/2 days. I find it is the wording of the letters that kick you in the teeth it is not like you have a boil on yer bum!!
My manager did say to ignore the wording although it is hard to do that. And she did say it would not get to the point of dismissal as there are special circumstances that obviously cancer would come under when still on active treatment
Good luck with your return to work and take it easy are you going back on a phased return you really should

Jill xxx

Hi Buffy, my only thought here is whether your disability status (Under the Equality Act 2010) has any impact upon the policy. I would suggest asking your Union to investigate OR perhaps talk to ACAS (number on their website). My employer has not used the absence policy for my 12 month absence due to BC treatment. Sometimes, it is about how an employer calculates the amount of absence that affects whether you are in or out of the policy. Have you had a copy of the policy for yourself?

Hi Buffy, my only thought here is whether your disability status (Under the Equality Act 2010) has any impact upon the policy. I would suggest asking your Union to investigate OR perhaps talk to ACAS (number on their website). My employer has not used the absence policy for my 12 month absence due to BC treatment. Sometimes, it is about how an employer calculates the amount of absence that affects whether you are in or out of the policy. Have you had a copy of the policy for yourself?

Hi Buffy
I’d echo what Helen says.
I work for a Local Authority too and they have not used any time I have had off for BC related treatment in their calculations in relation to the Sickness Absence policy.

In my work policy its very clear that sickness related to disability is dealt with in a different way as it is covered by the Equality Act.

However my understanding is that sometimes Sickness Absence and Capability policies are used in conjunction with each other-I’m not sure that this is the case with you. I also assume that Occupational Health are involved too and wonder what their assessment is?

Thankfully I am retired and have no employment worries. However, my daughter’s work colleague is having terrible problems. She is young and unmarried as yet, living alone. She had a double mx and all her active treatment, and is now at the stage of having a recon. Her employers (Civil Service) allowed her sick leave on full then half pay under normal rules. She worked as and when she could during treatment. They are now refusing to allow any more sick leave because in their wisdom they consider a delayed reconstruction to be a voluntary action and not part of the cancer treatment. How cruel is that?

Hi, I have the policy which is quite confusing in itself. The union have been supportive and attended my the meeting where an agreed phased return was organised. I do wonder if hr have ignored the disability part!!! My union said this particular hr company were useless, I am sure all will be fine on return. What concerns me however is when or if I need more active treatmenr what will happen. Timescales are very unclear too. Oh well good luck to everyone. A few more understanding hr departments would help by the sounds of things!!!

Hi Buffy3, its all vey well your union saying that this HR company are useless but the hr decsions are having an impact on you and your work, so they should be helping you deal with HR. In my union (at a regional level) they have people who specialise in policies etc and maybe you should ask for their help rather than just the local rep - you could cite the Equality Act 2010 as a reason for needing some specialist advice. You cannot be the only employee who has been affected by cancer and returned to work. Did you mention in this or another thread that another employee is being treated differently?
In your position I would write to HR saying you are unhappy about the application of the policy and asking how the EA 2010 has been applied and will be applied in the future. I know you hope that things will get better when you return but they may not and it might be important at some future date that you raised a query about how the policy is being applied. Just my opinion. Enjoy the rest of half term and god luck for the phased return next week.

Hello Buffy3,

I work in HR, (although currently still off sick following chemo, pre-surgery, with bc + secondaries). I thought I could try & explain what on earth they’re doing, in the hope it will help! I’m so sorry you’re in a situation where it feels bad being on the receiving end of all this.

It sounds like the process for managing absence is aligned to the dismissal process, meaning you’re right, it is possible to ultimately get to a point where an employer could legally dismiss, for the unfortunate lack of capability to perform the role. Crucially, protection under the Equality Act doesn’t stop a dismissal or make it unfair, but it does require the employer to make “reasonable adjustments”. In reality, your employer would have to move slowly and sympathetically through the stages, able to demonstrate they have made reasonable adjustments, to successfully defend an unfair dismissal claim.

The most interesting thing for you to understand is the motivation of our line manager / head.

For example, they may be happy to support you and be patient, but just worried that if they don’t put appropriate formal steps in place now, it could be difficult for them later, should you ultimately not be capable of performing your normal role with reasonable adjustments. The chances are that won’t happen - you may return, build yourself up and be able to do the job just fine!

I’d really encourage you to have open conversations with your manager. If they have any doubts about either your work before your diagnosis or concerns about how they will manage during any further developments, you may as well know now. I can’t emphasise enough that your best bet is always to try and build the relationship, join in with making constructive suggestions for managing the situation and be seen to be doing everything you reasonably can. If all else fails, that will only serve to strenthen your case.

Now for the ugly bit. If you are ultimately dismissed, you may have an employment tribunal case for unfair dismissal with disability discrimination. The latter bit’s important because it has higher potential payout attached to it. If you don’t get as far as a dismissal, but feel ‘pushed out’ you could bring a claim for constructive dismissal with disability discrimination.

But, beware that applying the absence policy, giving warnings, dismissing etc, is not automatically unfair just because of your cancer diagnosis. It’s only unfair if you can show reaonable adjustments were not made. Also, the onus would be on you to bring a case. That’s a lot of stress after cancer treatment.

You never know, you might not have further complications and the stage 1 warning will disappear in time. Good luck with it, you’re welcome to message me if I can help.


Buffy - sorry if I slipped into ‘HR speak’ during that! Will try and talk like a human if you get in touch.

Lola65 - there are many situations where reconstruction can’t be carried out until later. I hope your daughter’s colleague can get her onc to provide evidence to support that argument.

BTW all, my inspired boss is treating my abence “like a maternity leave” and has hired a 12 month fixed term contractor to cover my role!


Hi Sarah. I ironically did the training prior to my diagnosis so am well aware. I do realise that they are protecting themselves somewhat. Thank you for the hr perspective, it mirrors what I thought any way. I had a good relationship with my head before and I intend to return to my job and be just as effective as I was before. I just hope my health continues to improve, blooming bc and bone mets…

Thanks for all your support and words of wisdom xxx

I would just like to add that many firms can also be discretionary and allow full pay after the six month mark, perhaps speaking to your boss may allow them to invoke this. Good luck x

Sarah have sent you a message :slight_smile:

I have been been down the absence management route just recently and was issued with a health improvement plan (HIP) which basically states I will go onto stage 2 if I have any further time off. As if you can change the side effects of bc treatment! I went back to work 4 weeks post surgery and worked through rads until a skin breakdown meant my taking a week off despite my GP offering to sign me off for 3 months. If I had taken his advice I would not be in this situation. I have challenged HR to consider including Disability leave to the policy as it has implications under the Eqality Act 2010. Some employers have seperate policies for Disability related leave. I would urge anyone concerned about absence related to bc treatment to read about it. Union reps should also be aware.

I had gone throught the treament in 2011. I was fine through out 2012. I was sick for 4 week during Jan 2013 and then I had an operation feb 2013. I went back to work on 24th March on reduce hours. However, I am badly bullied at work by managers. I was going through counselling and they sent me to another dept. Now, I have asked for a tranfer and my manager is livid.
He is threatening me that as I have less than a year service (its been a year in March 2013) he will get me DISSMISED on medical ground ???
I have a meeting soon and will find out as whats going to happen.
I am quite young and if i loose this job i wont be able to pay my mortgage. joy so stressed.