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Sharing the right information at the right time to avoid the sack

Published 16 June 2022

Some employees happily share every aspect of their lives, no matter how personal, but for a private individual like Cleo sharing significant information at the right time proved crucial.

Her repeated lateness for work as a learning development administrator had come to the attention of management previously.

It resulted in Cleo being issued with a formal written warning following a disciplinary hearing. Subsequently her punctuality improved and the warning expired.

When she was repeatedly late again, Cleo faced another disciplinary hearing. This time she was warned dismissal was now a possible outcome.

Fearing the worst Cleo, who had worked for her employer for over a decade, contacted the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre for help.

For a long time Cleo had struggled with her mental health after being diagnosed with depression. She kept the diagnosis to herself

Resilient Cleo managed it with prescribed medication and coping strategies she had learned, and been taught.

When Cleo later began to suffer with blurred vision, dizziness and nausea, she again kept it to herself and did not inform management.

Her symptoms felt much worse in the mornings, which is what resulted in Cleo’s poor punctuality.

She disclosed to our representative that she was later diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, which causes the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood to become too high.

People with Type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day to keep their blood glucose levels under control.

Cleo received the diagnosis after a four-week period of sick leave and prior to her disciplinary hearing taking place.

She was initially reluctant to inform her employer of the diagnosis. In discussion with our representative he explained her condition can be considered a disability under the Equality Act 2010.

He said it was something her employer should be aware of because it will have to consider it and be supportive, and it can only do so if informed.

Our representative explained to Cleo that because it can be asserted her lateness is as a direct result of her disability, if her employer was to dismiss her it could amount to disability discrimination.

A disabled person is defined as having a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term (has lasted for 12 months or longer) adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

Cleo agreed it was in her best interests to disclose details about her health

At the disciplinary hearing, our representative explained how Cleo’s concerns about her physical health aggravated the symptoms of her depression, which inevitably impaired her ability to cope with the situation and affected her decision making.

The hearing was told she was extremely scared and very worried about what was happening to her, but as a private person she wanted to deal with it herself for fear of how she would be perceived.

Our representative made the point that legally there was no requirement for Cleo to disclose details about her physical and mental health if she did not initially need help.

He asserted that as the employer now knew, it must consider it in reaching a disciplinary outcome. It was said and acknowledged by our representative that ideally Cleo should have provided details earlier, but the reason she did not do so was fully explained.

The employer was very understanding. The hearing was adjourned in order for Cleo to be referred to occupational health to help the employer to gain a better understanding of her health.

The assessment advised Cleo’s bosses  her physical and mental health are likely to be covered by the Equality Act. It also included recommendations to support her in work, which could be considered reasonable adjustments.

The disciplinary case for repeated lateness was dismissed. Cleo was then provided with meaningful support to manage her mental and physical health while at work.

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For employment law advice or if you are affected or want information and support by any of the issues in this article please give us a call. 

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