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Advice need - getting back to into work after dismissal due to ill health

Hi all

I was diagnosed with MS in September 2012 and after several periods of absence during the previous year I returned to work for my employer of 11 years in November 2012.

During 2012 I was taken through the internal formal absence policy and my attendance was under review.

In March 2013, having been back at work since November 2012 without a day off, I was called to a meeting with my manager to discuss the outcome of the formal absence review. It could have gone either of two ways; extend the review period or dismissal.

Yep, you guessed it, my manager told me she had decided to terminate my employment with immediate effect under capability due to ill health. I was good at my job and received a great end of year review, it was just my attendance record which let me down. I was really angry at first and my union have started tribunal proceedings which are due to begin in August 2013.

I was devistated at losing my job as for the first time in around 2-3 years I was finally feeling better and understood why I had been so ill. I was also receiving the correct treatment which would help me to maintain my attendance at work.

Anyway, I refused to give up or cry and did everything I could to get myself another job quickly. I was lucky enough to be offered a similar position with another company within 2 weeks of being paid off from my previous employer. The only difference was that the position was temporary and I was initially rectuited via an external agency. During the interview the ageny asked why I had left my previous job after 11 years and I felt it was best to be honest and explained the full situation. They were sympathetic and asked if I required any adjustment etc.

I have been with my new employer for 13 weeks now without a day off through illness and they are really impressed with my work. I am also really loving the job so I was really pleased when they offered me the position permanently.

However, HR have now contacted me advising that as part of the process of going from temp to perm they need to carry out various background checks.

It is a position within the finance sector and when I started as a temp I was told various checks would be carried out, credit, criminal records, fraud database checks etc. However, I have been sent a declaration form to sign which states they will now not only check all the same checks they did when they employed me as a temp but will also perform a 2 year employment history check and my offer of perm as well as my ongoing employment with the company is subject to all of these checks coming back satisfactory.

The only check I am worried about is the employment history check. The delcaration form asked if I had every been dismissed from a previous employer and if so why. Again, I felt it would be best to be honest, as I had been with the agency, as they would find out from my previous employer why I left anyway and it would look even worse if I lied. The annoying thing is that the last 2 years of my employment history are the worst attendance wise, simply due to the MS being undiagnosed during that period.

I am now left hanging worrying about whether my current employer will see why I left my previous employer and decide not to give me the job after all because they are worried about my future attendance.

Has anyone else been in this position or does anyone have any employment law experience who could put my mind at ease so I can maybe sleep tonight?

Thanks for any help

Laura x

Hi Laura

I can understand why you are so worried but, as you say, you weren’t on the correct medication that would help you continue to work in your old job but you are coping well in your current job as you are now on the correct medication. Surely your new employer will understand why you had so much time off in your old job.

And you told the agency that you were working for exactly what happened so they knew.

What if you tell your new boss that you are worried. He/she may put your mind at rest. Afterall you have gone 13 weeks without any me off so they will realise that things are different for you now.

I know that when you apply for a job you don’t have to divulge that you have an illness and people must get offered jobs and the new employer would have no idea of the illness.

Hope this helps a little

Shazzie xx

When I was struggling with my rights at work relating to MS I phoned the Disability Law Service they were very helpful and informative.

Could you contact your union who are handling your tribunal proceedings? Your union caseworker will be able to advise you about your rights and hopefully ease your concerns. I would say that it sounds like your new employers are a lot more switched on than the last lot who have ended up mishandling things and are being rightly taken to tribunal as a result. The new lot already know how valuable you are to the company and I’m sure they also know how badly handled your disability was the last time. I’m sure the new lot are switched on about disability rights and you won’t end up being discriminated against. Its easy to say but try not to worry eh?

Oh now then…i know nothing much about employment law, but I am almost sure that the company who dismissed you were in the wrong.

I think having something like MS, brings the DDA laws in to play.

I think you are right to seek a tribunal about your dismissal.

Now as regards your new job, you have been more than fair in declaring everything and so again, there will be laws to protect you.

I`m sure someone else with better knowledge will come along soon and offer advice.

Look after yourself and i am glad you are now fit for work again. But the stress will take its toll on you, so be extra good to yourself and good luck for a great outcome.

luv Pollx

Oh, yikes - nightmare. As others have suggested, this is one for the experts, I am afraid. Good luck Alison

Hi Laura, I am not an expert. I am sure you know loads more about it than I do, seeing what you have been through. By the way very well done for getting another job so quickly, and coping with diagnosis and work all at the same time! All I know is MS is officially categorised as a disability and therefore should give us extra protection under the disability discrimination laws. Which was certainly why (after taking advice and reading loads) I decided to tell my employer about MS. I think it means you can be honest about how you feel and what may be needed to keep you working in the future. My work has recently helped with a closer parking space for a temporary period following a relapse. I think it is such a shame that you are under all this pressure, along with MS, and coping with starting a new job. So as Poll says - be kind to yourself Bea x