Upcoming Absence Review

I have just returned to work today after having 2 days off with a cold which as most of you know affects your asthma. On my back to work review I was told that I will now have to have an absence review as I have had 12 days off within the the last 12 months. Apparently as the 12 days were odd days here and there they have been flagged up, although they are all asthma related.

I did try to argue my point that all the absences were down to my asthma. As like most people here if I get a cold then 90% of the time it affects my asthma and I need a few days for everything to settle down. Unfortunately they would not hear of it and said that I must be treated like all other employees. My asthma has only got worse within the last few years since being off work for 8 weeks with work related stress. I have passed this to my union as I feel that I have been discriminated against.

I was wondering if this is becoming the unfortunate norm these days from employer's and if anyone here who has been in a similar situation has any advice?

27 Replies

  • hi there

    I totally sympathise. I had problems with my employer and had my contract terminated earlier this year due to my sickness record they refused point blank to make any adjustments to my working pattern or hours etc

    I am now almost at my employment tribunal date which is early next month where i hope to expose them as failing their duty of care for a disabled employee and for disabaility discrimination. Im afraid its possibly the climate we live in at the moment. I loved my job and still miss it though through this process i have found out a lot of what has been said behind my back by my managers and colleagues and can safely say im glad i dont work there anymore they were totally vile and didnt understand my illness even accusing me of making it up as they felt that you couldnt be in hospital for so long with just asthma.

    If i can help anymore feel free to pm me. Lotsa lv kat Xx

  • I'm in a similar situation to you, our work sickness absence policy changed this year and we are all treated exactly the same, all of my absences have been asthma related but i am now on a disciplinary because i've been off ill too often.

    I've gone in to work when i really shouldn't because of it and i've ended up being really ill and work had to call an ambulance for me- which went down really well.

    I think all companies are the same now but i'm sure they can't discriminate? I was told that Asthma is covered in the Disibility Discrimination Act but don't know whether that is correct or not.

    Hope you get on ok xx

  • Asthma is indeed covered by the DDA, so you have that on your side.

    However, anti-discrimination regulations work both ways. If your employers have a policy of reviewing everyone who has 12 days off in a calendar year then they *have* to review you whether you have a DDA-qualifying condition or not - otherwise they're discriminating against those who are completely well!

    If they are a good employer then the review should simply be to ascertain that your days off were solely because of your existing condition, and that they have done nothing to exacerbate your condition - and hopefully this is how the review will pass for you. I don't think you can say whether your employers have discriminated against you or not until *after* the review; certainly they don't appear to have discriminated against you at the moment.

    Whatever happens, please let us know.

  • I hope it goes OK for you. Asthma is definitely covered by the DDA. I don't work but had a similar review yesterday at University because of the time I've missed this year. Unfortunately it wasn't very supportive and I have issues to follow up now - and of course the stress is impacting on my asthma which was going through a bad patch anyway. I wish more people understood what asthma is and that is can be really severe.

  • Thanks for all the info it has filled me with some hope. Once I have had the review I will post and let you all know what happened. The only good side is that I do know the person who is doing the review as she was once my manager and understands the situation so fingers crossed.

  • I used to work for a medical company at events and such as a first aider. I informed them before I started I had asthma and over a period of 3 months I got ill 4 times at work. Every time I was forced to see the Dr on site and then they used to make me go to hosp. After that the company fired me refused to pay me as they said it was to cover the expense of the drugs and dr's time. I lost nearly £400. I worte and informed them of DDA and that they cant withold my wages they ignored it!

    I am now in the middle of a Tribunal to gain compensation and my wages and even ACAS are having problems contacting them to respond to anything!

    My advice is keep employers in the picture inform them of every chance to your health and if they fire yoy etc stick up for yourself get what you deserve

  • Hi

    Peaksteve is right. Regardless of the DDA's covering of asthma and your own asthma related illness absenses-if your employer has a target total you will be reviewed or interviewed as soon as you meet the need in any 12 month period.

    Usually what happens is if you have exceeded the total you will be sent for an OH assessment where 'things' will be be put in to practice to see if your absence record can be improved.

    ((In my case I am now only able to work part time and have Access to Work help in place.))

    If you then exceeded your employer's total a second time you can be sent for a tribunal but at this stage would/should have the backing of OH to shout your case. And that is when the DDA will stand by you.

    Does this make sense?

    You can't be struck off at the first instance.

    In my own case ( I'm a teacher)-we are 'allowed' 6 days absence in a 6 month period. However if you have 2 illnesses of 3 days each-say a tummy bug and a flu-you will still be called up for interview-they would term these 'health issues' rather than a random day off with a cold/toothache type illness.

    Because I have in the past had very lengthy absences-weeks at a time- and am covered by my own disability due to chronic asthma, my absence has been stretched to 9 days allowed sick per 6 months.

    A day also means coming in an hour late or going home an hour early with permission due to a severe asthma flare etc. Typical. Make a note of how many days off you think you have had-their total is always different.

    A colleague broke her ankle last year and immediately exceeded the 6 day rule. It's just bad luck, but every employer is entitled to set their own rules as per staff absence.

    That is where OH are there to help those of us with severe long term illness.

    I hope this helps a little bit!

    Good Luck.

  • I work in a school -After having leg in plaster and off work they are sending me occupational health so know im ok to work.

    Also with having asthma and had 2 hospital visits a few days each time and a asthma attack at work this week ,they are having occupational health check it also and on light duties till then.

    My friend I work with had one day off last week with a tummy bug and still had a back to work review xxx

  • Hi Biodiode

    Managing employee absence has received quite a lot of focus by employers over the past few years. Many have implemented the use of Bradford Factor as the tool for managing absence. There should be details of the absentee policy in your employee handbook or terms and conditions. Unfortunately this policy is implemented across the board for all employees and can be incredibly difficult for anybody managing lifelong illnesses. There is a certain amount of concession given to anybody with a disability but they would be running a risk and using the full disciplinary procedure for sickness related absenteeism alone without going through occupational help and seeing if there is anything they can do to assist...

    The bradford factor manages short term absence by using the following formula: S x S x D where S is the total number of times absent and D is the total number of days absent in a 52 week period.

    So if you were absent 12 times at 1 day per time then it would be 12 x 12 x 12 = 1728 is the score. The trigger points are normally established by the company or if they are using HR software then this will be an automated trigger. It is a nightmare because let's say another member of staff was off 4 times this year but for two weeks each time then their bradford score would be 4 x 4 x 40 = 640!!!

    I hope this makes sense to you. Send me a message if you have any other questions at all. Juggling work and Asthma can be a nightmare. I have an HR background and happy to help in an unofficial capacity with any personnel related questions...

    Take care

  • Thanks for that info KNS and thinking about it they must be using the Bradford Scale as I was told if my absences were for 5 days (ie a whole working week) then it would not have triggered. There's me thinking I was doing the business a favor by getting back to work as soon as I was able.

    I have now gend up on the subject and have sought advice from the union as well so I think I am prepared. I was told on Friday that my interview would most likely be Tuesday so at least I can get it out of the way as it causing my all sorts of stress.

  • I'm going through all this at the moment, being in a small office with lots of colds/flus (as people daren't have time off to be ill!) has triggered my asthma big time, gone from being on one minimal dose of inhaler to lots of medication and 2 hospital visits in last year. Just returned to work after being off for 4 months!

    My condition is now at a stage where it's regarded as a disability, I've had no end of problems trying to resolve things and ACAS told me to ring DDA for advice - they were very helpful. Might be worth you giving them a call.

    With their advice and my Union Rep's support fingers crossed I can work in another room if someone's ill in future!


    I know just how you're feeling!

  • Hi Biodiode. I completely know where you are coming from, unfortunately :( I am half way through their review process so may be able to offer some reassurance/throw some light on what to expect!

    My asthma has been shocking this year and I have had about 90 days off since feb, most of it in one big bout of doom!!!!! Anyway I went in as and when I could breathe enough to get dressed and out the door, thinking, as others have said, that I was being extra good at my job coming in rather than skiving off on ""good days"". My GP was constantly signing me in and out bless him!(ironically enough had I stayed off for the whole 6 months it would have been counted as one sickness period and i would not have had to endure a review) Anyway In august they finally called me in and explained that they had to implement ""section 17"" which is apparently the management of sickness for those with disabilities. (Apparently there are other sections eg 18 where there's not much chance of someone coming back, and the other one for people that go off a lot with a variety of illness but do not have a disability). What it basically meant was that they had to organise me with enough support to enable me to work as much as I could. For me that meant them allowing me to work from my bed when I was too wheezy/breathless to move around much but could catch up on paperwork etc... I had my union involved and did end up with an informal grievance until it was all sorted, and to give them their due the final HR woman and my team manager were brilliant in making me feel like a valued member of the team and have been true to their word so far...which is great for me cuz then you dont feel so down on yourself for not being able to work and you know you're still holding your end of the team up :) You'll no doubt be covered under the DDA which means they have to demonstrate they have tried every which way to support you including relocation before they can dismiss you...so please dont worry, you'll probably find they're as nervous as you are about it !!!! The HR woman who did my 2nd interview told me that the government were cracking down on it and expecting sickness to be improved nationally, though I dunno if thats just for government run organizations......

    Also remember stress can be a huge trigger for a lot of asthmatics, so take it easy (I did point out to them that they were causing at least some of my asthma symptoms by putting me through it all but it came good in the end!!!)

    Let us know how you get on and good luck :)


  • Thanks Breathless (gotta say, nice user name:) )

    Unfortunately they postponed the meeting until a later date so I definitely will be mentioning to them that they are adding to my stress levels.

  • Thanks ;) Thinking the same about yrs actually....in the depths of my mind I remember studying something about biodiodes at uni....but apparently not enough ;)

    Typical, them postponing it... they dont seem to realise it actually takes over yr entire life/thoughts/weekends until it gets sorted!!!! They postponed mine to the point that my GP suggested taking something for the anxiety to prevent it triggering an attack!!!!!

    Make sure you keep a note of the times they postpone it and anything and everything else that MAY be needed should it come to it !!!!!

  • Hey Guys,

    I just read this forum, and unfortunatly i have experianced a similar situation. I work for the government, and i suffer with severe asthma.

    all my sick leave i have visited a and e with asthma attacks nothing else, i never take a day off for anything else because i feel so out of order fo doing so.

    well the decided to give me a written warning cos of my sick absence, i appealed the situation with the DDA on my side and it helped me so much, they are even paying for a nebuliser at work.

    So if you suffer any problems, look at the DDA, you are covered , asthma is a disability, but don't let it control your life....

    Emma :) xx

  • Just a brief update,

    After I kicked up a fuss and talked it through with my manager they have decided I do not qualify for an absence review.....go figure :)

    So instead they will have a 'care and concern' chat within the next week. This next bit will make you all laugh, they want to see if there are any factors at work that may be adding to my stress levels and bringing on my asthma.......hmmm I feel I should mention how they have lead me a merry dance as one factor :)


  • I've been through all this as I suspect many others on this thread have.

    I'd been regularly exposed to bad yakky colds/flus in a small warm office, being in a barrage of viral sneezes when you've asthma is no fun and it triggered mine BIG time.

    Due to the nature of my job it doesn't matter where I work, I was asked what could be done to help and I said please, please, please can I work in another room or home work when this is the case. It has proved such a difficult ask, 3 hospital visits, lots of medication, back up from Occ Health, hospital and GPs there's been no resolve and 14 months later I find myself sat in a room with someone full of swine flu the other week.

    When more sniffles broke out last week I packed up my stuff and home worked - I was told 'no employer would support this' and expect to be in big trouble tomorrow!!!

  • As one who is hoping to get back into the workplace after a two year gap - not asthma related - I watch this discussion with interest. I've had bullying bosses in the past and taken time off for that. Looks like asthma could be something similar.

  • Just about a week away from my 3rd formal meeting re my sickness, and so worried and nervous as the letter i receieved stated the next step would be a termination of my contract. I was forced to reduce my hours following my last meeting, but then my work place decided it would be a great idea to increase my work load, go figure......the whole situation is just so stressful and i continue to drag myself into work to try to give them what they want....at the last meeting they verbalised they needed a sustained attendeance for 8 weeks but in my letter it stated a significant improvement was required...well i have improved my attendence for this period so i guess i will have to wait for the meeting to fnd out what they have to say...

    Would really love to be able to keep my job but am not really sure if they want to keep me or if it is actually doing me more harm than good.

    Good luck to anyone else going through dificult times with work and the moment and fingers crossed you all remain well or have support to get through this period. Glad to hear that things are a little more settled with you Biodiode at the moment.


  • Update on my tribunal proceedings for those who have supported me through it all....

    hi everyone

    Some of you guys have been supporting me in my fight against my employers for sacking me due to being poorly with my asthma all year last year and failing to make any reasonable adjustments for me.

    My tribunal was planned for next week but we managed to agree a settlement today. Im relieved as i feel they finally admitted to treating me badly and have given me a good settlement with a reference that is to be agreed between them and myself through solicitors so i know that it will not be a negative reference or a bland reference etc.

    Many thanks to all of you who have supported me either openly on the boards or by sharing their own personal stories with me via the PM system. You have all been great and im sorry for the public thanks but there were so many of you lol!! :-)

    It does seem that a lot of us have either had issues at work or are facing issues at work- my only advice i can give post this whole experience is to go with your gut instincts. If you feel like you have been bullied or that your employer was unfair etc and want to go through the employement tribunal route go for it - however it is an intensely stressful procedure and just lately i have been having real issues keeping my asthma under some control due to the stress however i have finally come through to the other side so to speak. If you do want to go through the procedure then go for it but remember that it can be and usually is a very difficult thing to do and you only have 3 months less one day to submit your application form to the tribunal from whenever your contract was terminated etc.

    There can be justice tho if you do persevere as i have managed to get some level of justice i think. I didnt get my job back which i did want at the beginning of the process but once i read through what people had said about me i didnt want to go back as there were some pretty hurtful things written about me.

    If anyone is considering going down the employement tribunal route and wants some advice then feel free to send me a private message and i will help in anyway i can!

    Anyways thank you again everyone and now im going to finish my glass of wine :-) and then go to sleep as i've not slept properly in what feels like months so im gonna sleep like a baby this evening! :-)

    Night night all and thanks for all your support. Lotsa lv from a very very smiley and sleepy kitkat Xx

  • I feel sorry for u all. I have unfourtunatly had 9 weeks off work with hospital admissins so far this year and a few more weeks off to recoperate after. however it probably would of been longer off but kept discharing myself from hospital as i became very worried about losing my job.

    A lot of people do not understand how poorly u are when having a big asthma attack, and how long it can take to get over it.

    I am very lucky with my bosses as they have never once done a review and even have a neb at work for me to use.

  • Had time off for achilles tendon with cast on,had a review and been OH.

    OH have given me the ok to work but because of my OA in most of my joints and crutch and Asthma have also been reported the HR have got to come make sure my needs are been seen to.

    Got a lovely job and they have no problem with my crutch ive used for 7 years and worked there for 12 and my asthma but understand they need to make sure im safe and can do my job with no problems xxx

  • Fantastic news Kitkat :) Really gives hope to others.

    Enjoy your wine and sleep :D

  • kit kat

    Thats good news Kat now you can well and truely rest now cant you. No more late night battles.

    Now take it easy

    Experimented with a pineapple drizzle cake-it was a request after finding tin crushed pineapple took a while to drain off all the liquid- I only made 1 incase didnt taste right- to me the fruit appeared dry!! was a success!!

    Penny xx

  • Well Done Kit Kat what a relief.

    On a side issue kipo don't keep discharging yourself from hospital it might be that staying that little bit longer will make you more in the future. The don't keep people in hospital for fun you know. Stay safe and do as the Dr's tell you :)


  • thanks everyone - i am very relieved its all over have had a great restful day today and looking forward to meeting a good friend this weekend for a celebration weekend instead of cramming my head full of legal stuff! All in all im a very relieved kitkat! :-)

    Kipo i agree with bex as frustrating as it can be in hospital sometimes- its always wise to listen to what the docs say. They dont keep you in for nothing and they may help your get better and stay out longer in the long term if you do stay for that little bit longer in the short term.

    Wheezer1 the pineapple cake sounds yummy! But your cakes are always very yummy. :-) sorry i've not replied to your texts in a while. Its been rather crazy here preparing for the court dates etc. Now its over - im rather exhausted and am catching up on my sleep a bit. Will be back on form soon i promise. Thanks for all your support (and cake) :-) :-)

    Speak soon everyone and again thanks for all of your support. Lotsa lv kitkat Xxxx

  • I have been off since mid June with my Asthma, I work in operating theatres. I believe my employer didn't make reasonable adjustments, for example didnt get to reduce my hours and all hospital appointents I ended up maing up the time by working weekends.

    I had my sickness review meeting just over a week or so ago and have been told I am to be redeployed. HR are meant to send me forms to fill in, I am still waiting!!

    I don't want to miss possible job oportunity due their poor communication so it seems I have to do everything myself. I have been told at the end of the 12 week redeployment proess they will apply for medical retirement if not I will be dismissed on ill health grounds.

    If this meeting had been arranged sooner I could already be in work as I apploed for a job but was unsuccessful but would have been able to have a 4week trial under the redeployment rules.

    I really want to be in work but feel I am being pushed out, just have to keep fighting and hope like Kat I can be smiling soon too!!

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