Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Statutory Sick Pay (Warning: Rant)

Hello there! Sorry about no post yesterday. I was absolutely shattered after my first day back to work. I was ill all last week and was away from work altogether. I suffered a terrible case of Folliculitis on my groin area (the stupidest infection I've ever heard of!). The pain was absolutely debilitating and I was prescribed antibiotics. I've only been at my new job for a few months and the company doesn't pay Company Sick Pay until an employee has worked with them for at least six months. Obviously Statutory Sick Pay still applies for 4 days or more of sickness.

I work for a Call Centre in Brighton and needless to say, it is full of middle management and power hungry men in ties. I was in constant telephone communication with my supervisor and just before my second doctor's visit, I asked him if he wanted me to get a note. He advised me that I wouldn't need one because it was not more than 7 days of sickness. Upon my return (on the 8th day), I was advised by my manager that I would need a note from the Doctor for Statutory Sick Pay. I agreed to get one and found myself back at the Walk-In Centre where I saw the doctor. I was then informed by the helpful reception that they do not give sick notes to non-registered patients, but more importantly that the law says that employers can't ask for doctor's notes unless the employee has been sick 8 days or more. Hmph. So off I went, absolutely shattered, back home for the day (thus no blog post).

Today was an 8-hour long tiff with my supervisor over my rights, SSP, and Human Resources. The Human Resources department went on about how they need proof that I was sick in case they are audited. I advised them that according to the NHS Health Centre, because it is 7 days or less, I don't need proof. Until about 4:30PM today, when I threatened to call HM Revenues and Customs myself, I finally got somewhere. My supervisor called the Head of Accounts who shamed him and HR "for asking me to get a note for audit/accounts purposes". Then my supervisor Googled my rights as a worker and found out that, indeed, an employer cannot ask for proof of sickness for less than 8 days off sick. So THERE! I can't believe how long it took to come to this resolution. Because I am not registered with a GP in Brighton, they even went so far as to ask me to register with a new GP, ask them to look at my previous notes, and to write me a retrospective note!! Honestly!

Anyway, the point of this is that although I handled the situation in a mature, friendly, and courteous manner; I was absolutely fuming! As workers, you should all know your rights and when to put your foot down. I can't believe this company policy has been in existence for decades without someone standing up to it. My other half, who is English, told me when I got home today that he has noticed a difference between the ethics in the Canadian and British non-skilled workforces. He said that in England, non-skilled workers tend to do as they're told more without asking as many questions. I don't know if his observations are true or not (comment your opinions below!), but if they are, that definitely needs to change!

The company now has to re-write it's absence policy - a policy that has been constantly stressed to me as the strictest of its kind and built on a strong company blah blah blah... Basically, their absence policy was their pride and joy, and I've quashed it! I'm so proud ^_^ The moral of the story? If you believe something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Recession or not, you have your rights and don't be afraid to use them and benefit from them. To accurately, calmly, and rationally explain your feelings is the best way. Mine went something like, "I understand the concerns of the company. I understand that SSP is based on government funds and the company is worried about being audited and is worried about having proof that I was sick in order to justify using that government funding; however, I am not interested in the theoretical worries or preferences of the company. I am interested in the law."

One of the biggest problems, and greatest assets, in call centres is their policy of "hiring from within". It means everyone in higher departments has started from the bottom - which, in theory, is good; but if those people aren't given adequate training and education, you've got a bunch of warranty sales people running the HR department. Not so good! On top of that, there is a strong feeling of a company hierarchy. Middle management "professionals" are constantly trying to milk every ounce of power they can get. I have a feeling that the people in the HR department were just trying to give me a hard time because, after all, what makes me think I can get paid for being sick without proving it? I guess they showed me... oh wait, I showed them.

1 comment:

  1. I worked in call centers a few years ago, never again they flouted the law and employees rights all the time, they rely on people being worried about loosing their jobs, Good for you standing up to them,