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suspended from work, invited to an investigatory meeting....please help!!

 
suspended from work, invited to an investigatory meeting....please help!!

i was called by my boss on saturday morning to tell me that i've been suspended from work with full pay as they're alleging that i changed dates on a sick note i submitted on the 15th january. she told me that she had known friday but "hadn't had the chance to contact me". she told me i needed to call HR on monday. monday comes, i call HR who informed me that dates had been changed on my sick note, and that they had had this confirmed by my GP. on monday i also got a letter informing me of my suspension which stated that they have suspended me due to "taking part in activities that cause us to lose faith in your integrity, further particulars being that you deliberately falsified your sickness certificate".

today i had a letter saying that i am required to attend an investigatory interview next tuesday. they've told me that i will be interviewed by a manager and that there will be a nominated person there to take notes. in the letter they state that there is no statutory right for me to be accompanied however they will allow me to be accompained by an employer.

i have no idea what has been changed on my sick note. i went sick a few weeks ago (self cert for a week) and a sick note by my doctor to cover me for the rest of the time i had off. i only had a sprained ankle....the doctor offered me longer off work but i declined it because i felt i would be fit enough to return to work. i contacted my boss straight after my appointment and confirmed with her the day i would be returning. as we have no base as such, and i was unable to drive due to my ankle, she advised me to post my sick note to her home address. which i did the following day. the only mistake i did was not to look at the dates the doctor had put on the sick note before i posted it, i just trusted he'd put the right ones down.

i'm so worried about this, i 've never been in trouble in work in my life?! not so much as a telling off!! i'm a member of the RCN and i have to call my union rep tomorrow for more advice etc. i'm also arranging an appointmengt with my GP for monday to discuss this with him in hope of clarifying what he wrote on my sick note.

i have some questions though that i hope you'll be able to help me with....the wording they've used in the letter "involved in activities" suggests to me that there is more than one problem....or is this just jargon used by managers? if there was something else they were concerned about they would have to tell me right?

am i allowed to be accompained to this "informal" investigatory meeting? it just doesn't sound very informal to me when there is someone there taking notes.

do they have to present all their evidence to me before this meeting? like the sick note prehaps?

also do compaines have the right to contact my Gp without my permission regarding sick notes?

any advice/help would be most appreciated. i'm going out of my mind with worry, haven't eaten, slept or thought of nothing else but this for the last week. i just can't believe this is happeneing to me, and as i've never been through anything like this before i have no idea what the correct procedure is or what to expect?!

many many thanks

santa100

04/02/2010 22:21:02

suspension is a neutral act to allow time to investigate the allegations and you should be paid. you do not have the right to take someone with you to an investigatory meeting but it seems they are happy for you to take a fellow employee. i do not believe that they can contact your GP without your permission. this is a breach of confidentiality and you will be able to ask him/her if in fact they did do this when you have your appointment. in the meantime you can only wait to see what the allegations are. it maybe that you have no questions to answer but before you attend any investigatory meeting you must speak to your rep for advice on how to conduct yourself.

crocodile

04/02/2010 22:33:39

so do you think that there are more allegations that i don't know about? all i've been told is that dates have been changed on my sick note....but do you think there is something else they're not telling me? the wording "taking part in activites" suggest to me that there is more to this than they're telling me.....opinions?

santa100

05/02/2010 08:55:42

Just sounds like verbose HRspeak to me !

But, be cautious - suspension is usually a precursor to a disciplinary for gross misconduct.

Obviously, the document itself will be absolutely key evidence, and may either clear or condemn you.

You have every right to examine this; to get a copy and to get your GP'sa comments re the alleged alterations.

Best of luck !

bubbles_once

05/02/2010 10:23:06

would i be in my rights to request this document prior to the investigatory meeting? and also would i be within my rights to postpone the meeting until i've spoken to my GP? i'm unable to get an appoint with him until next friday (meeting is on the tuesday). my Gp surgery has been giving me teh wrong information all week about when the Gp is next in, as they've been followig the wrong rota all damn week!!!!

thank you for all your replies!!

santa100

05/02/2010 10:35:19

also one thing that concerns me is that my sick note was sent to my boss's home address....who is to say that someone had her home haven't changed the dates etc on the note? i have no idea where this note was kept after i sent it to her?!

i'm so worried about this, i just dont' know what the hell has gone on. wish i'd taken the 2 weeks the Gp offered me now, rather than being loyal to my company and only taking just over a week off work

santa100

05/02/2010 10:37:45

In theory this should be fairly easy to clear up – your GP can confirm the dates that were on the note, and you might want to lay it on thick and get them to state that they offered to sign you off for longer but you refused – this might undermine any case based on you wanting to increase the amount of time off you were due, if all you actually needed to do was get your GP to give you a new note and knew that they would do this.

Your GP should certainly not have given any information to your employer, and you might want to query how they got confirmation of the dates without your authority. I should stress that it doesn’t mean that your doctor’s surgery didn’t release this information, only that they shouldn’t have done so – it seems odd that an employer would try to ask for it without getting your agreement first, but it’s possible. You would then have grounds for a complaint against your doctor, but that’s a separate issue.

But if, as you suspect, the note might have been changed after you posted it to your boss then it becomes a different fight. But there’s not much point in getting too drawn into speculation about what the charge might be when you don’t know what it is, and when it could be as simple as your GP smudging or amending the date – although why they had to suspend for something that could be easily cleared up is very odd. Though it may just be an overreaction by the NHS – a friend of mine who is a nurse narrowly escaped disciplinary action for doing something that was completely legal, not forbidden in her contract, didn’t affect her NHS employment, and actually something that her employer had no authority to discipline her over. Her manager left it at a verbal warning, thinking that they were doing her a favour by not making it an official disciplinary sanction.

I agree with Bubbles about the wording of the charge – I think they are simply making the point that if you had changed your doctor’s note then it would undermine the integrity of your position.

For the meeting, they do not have to give you the evidence beforehand – this is to ask you for your version of events, not for you to present your defence. They will have to give you copies of the evidence before any disciplinary meeting, in sufficient time for you to be able to prepare your defence (and at that point you can ask for more time if you need it). If your story is that you did not alter the dates on your sick note and that you will be getting your GP to confirm this later that week, I would simply expect them to wait to receive the info from your GP before making a decision of whether to take it to a disciplinary meeting. Obviously they will give you details of what the note says at the investigatory meeting.

As Crocodile says, they are not required to allow you to be accompanied to the investigation, but get the RCN all over this, and they may well flex their muscles to get themselves allowed in.

For now, difficult as it is, do your best to stay calm and not worry too much over things you can’t control. You will find out exactly what’s going on once you go to the meeting, so concentrate on preparing your defence.

monkey steve

05/02/2010 11:11:47

thank you for all your help people!! i'm at a loss as to why they've chosen to suspend me when all they had to do was call me in to clear up any problems. it just all seems very drastic to me!

although i'm a nurse i work for a private company, which is why all of this feels so alien to me. this would never have happened in the NHS, they would have simply called me and asked for clarification or as you say another doctors note.

i am concerned about them contacting my Gp regarding this without my permission, and the fact my GP gave them information. although i'm confused as to what the Gp is allowed to give out, i thought they were allowed to confirm dates etc, because i thought agenices such as the benefit agency etc can contact Gp's regarding sick notes.

got a meeting with my union today so i hope they can offer me more support so i can at least have a good nights sleep over the weekend!

thank you again

santa100

05/02/2010 12:39:31

Yes, it does seem very inept / heavyhanded HR practice

Best to get a copy of the workplace disciplinary procedures and to make sure these are being complied with fully.

bubbles_once

05/02/2010 15:11:49