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Is this written warning fair?

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*Princess* | 13:11 Fri 02nd Mar 2007 | Jobs & Education
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My Mam has just been given a written warning for abscence. She's recieved NO verbal warning and her boss has given her this written warning due to abscence from work. On 5 occasions my Mam has had a panic attack and not been able to get into work, however she has rang up to let people know she can not make it in. A few times from these 5 she's actually got into work, worked a bit and then had the panic attack and had to leave. She's recently been really ill this week and was on super strength antibiotics but she rang her boss and told her she wouldn't be in for about a week as she was so ill. She was so ill she had to get my Dad to ring in but the boss says this is unacceptable and that she should have called.

Anyway my Mam is upset at this written warning as it seems a bolt out of the blue. The boss in question has poor management skills and has 'favourites' who she lets get away with anything. My Mam is hard working and will always do favours for the boss like extra shifts or coming in earlier, just to help out, but now she feels like it's all pointless to be honest.

What can she do? Is it legal to give a written warning without having had a verbal? Can you give a written warning for something like illness? Can she in anyway get the written warning written off, as it were?

Any help is greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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It's harsh but there's nothing stopping the boss giving a written warning straight away for this if he felt the absences were too many.

Did her boss invite her to a meeting to explain her side of the story before issuing the written warning? If not she can appeal it on this basis. Instructions on how to do this should have been included with the written warning.

Her absence is quite high though and you have to remember they have a business to run - at the end of the day if your Mum can't fulfill her contractual obligations the company has a right to take action.

Good luck if she does decide to appeal.
If she was on antibiotics she must have seen a doctor and presumably got as doc's note. I can't see that it matters who phones as long as the message gets through.

Some people can be dismissive about panic attacks, is there a union or staff representative she can talk to.
As you said in your first line, she has been given a warning for her absence. Although they need to take circumstances into account, a company has a business to run and repeated absence, for whatever reason, may lead to a situation where the company feels that contract is being broken by the employee.
Yes its not unusual to give a written warning straight off, and its certainly 'legal'. By the same token, its possible to give someone a Final Written Warning without having previously given them any previous warning - if the circumstances warrant it.
Surely if she is ill they should give her reasonable sick leave.
Maybe he thinks she just wants time off, but if she has seen a doctor for these panic attacks and can explain what she is doing about improving things then she has employment rights.
Has she worked there long?
Question Author
Thank you for your answers, they're very helpful.

She's been there a year and it's only been this last week that she's had the 5 days off. I spoke to her and from the other 5 days, the first two days she had off was because a collegue verbally abused her in front of customers and the boss knows this, however the boss has her reasons of being off due to 'migraine' - my Mam has never suffered these in her life! I think the boss is covering herself as she did absolutely nothing about the member of staff, even though there have been numerous complaints about her.

As for the panic attacks, she is getting the doctor to write a letter explaining that they were real, as well as the fact that this weeks illness was genuine and she wasn't skiving.

Out fo the first 5 absences, 2 being the bullying, 2 of the other 3 were due to high blood pressue - she had to have a 24 hr monitor fitted so she took 2 days holiday in order to do this, but the boss has put it down as being ill. Its only the 1 absence she's had due to a panic attack.

My Mam is appealing, not only because she doesn't in anyway deserve a written warning but also because she hasn't had any verbal warnings, other members of staff had had way more 'sick days' and also because the boss herself, swans off withouth telling anyone and simply doesn't turn into work! It seems as though she's being victimised for being ill! She's going through the correct channels and hopefully the boss' boss will see how bad a job the boss is doing!

Thanks again for your help people :o)
hang on, i thought there were 5 days off because of panic attacks - now its one day, 2 for having a row and two for having a monitor fitted?

which one is it? you are saying one thing then saying another and accounts don't add up.

"a couple of times she made it in and had another attack and had to leave.." well if its onloy one time, how can this be?

to be honest, 2 days off because she got told off and then another 2 because he had to wear a monitor does sound excessive.
(days off for the monitor is unnecessary - my dad had one and carried on as normal - thats the point, to monitor your blood pressure through your average day, not sitting a home resting having 2 days off)
and panic attacks are usually short lasting so theres no reason she could not have gone into work after they pass

so, she was fit to work 4 and half days out of the 5 - and she didn't - the boss is bound to be suspicious.

as for the antibiotics - a docs not will cover that

i can understand the boss not really believing this story - it makes no sense and keeps changing
Question Author
joko - that's not very helpful. Also its obvious that you've never had a full blown panic attack - you don't just feel better 2 seconds after they've passed you know.

The 'story' has changed as I've spoke to my Mam and didn't realise the 5 days weren't all panic attacks. The blood pressure monitor she couldn't wear at her specific place of work, on advice of the doctor who fitted it. This is why she took 2 days HOLIDAY for it, but the useless boss has recorded it as sickness. So, really its 3 days she's had off.

One was a panic attack, like I said, and the first two were due to workplace bullying, of which the boss never did anything about and has recorded these 2 days as sickness too.

So basically my Mam has had 5 days off llast week, which is covered by a sicknote and 5 other days off, 1 of which was sickness, 2 were officially holiday and 2 were due to bullying of which the boss told her to take off while things were 'sorted out' then progressed to do ****** all.

I'm not lying and neither is my Mam, I just thought there might be some helpful people who could explain the process of appeals and that, I didn't ask the question to be judged!
my point was, that is how it looks.
if you just wanted back up you should have said.

if it looks that way to me then i can understand why a boss would not be entirely convinced - especially since you couldn't get your story straight.

surely you can see how it looks from the outside?

you asked for advice, i gave it to you from a neutral point of view, not just sympathy.
so sorry i didn't just back you up, but i don't think that would have helped

i have no idea whether my thoughts are founded - i do not know your mum, you, the boss, or the full circumstances, but the point is your boss does and they don't believe her.

the only way you can proceed is to get the doctor to write a letter explaining her condition and how it affects her ( there may be a charge for this)

also some companies give very informal verbal warnings - a passing comment, a nice chat etc so make sure that they are not seeing one of them as being the verbal warning.
The "useless" boss actually comes across as the complete opposite. She has a business to run and she cannot do her job if her employees are not turning up for work. And even if your mum has done extra shifts or started early, it is irrelevant. The fact that she does occasional overtime does not excuse her from work for five days at a time, especially for two unrelated reasons; panic attacks and bullying.

If the doctor felt that her condition was serious enough, he/she would have issued a doctor's note. And as long as she presents this to her employer, there should not be a problem. The fact that a written warning has been issued suggests that your mum has not given a doctor's note to the employer. If this is the case, I feel that their actions are fair.

If your mum feels that she has been unfairly treated, she should get in contact with somebody in the human resources (HR) department, and quickly. She might like to question the disciplinary procedures as well, asking the question you have asked - why was a written warning given before a verbal warning?

My former employer used to send written warnings to staff who were absent from work for the simple reason that they were never actually in to talk to. Maybe this is why the manager has taken the approach that she has.
Question Author
joko I can see how it looks but that's not my Mams fault, it's mine for not having the story correct in the first post! I thought it was 5 days for panic attacks but turns out it was only one.

The boss is useless as she's never in herself. She goes for weekends away and doesn't actually tell anyone until they ring her to see where she is and she says she's on holiday! I think this is what is annoying my Mam most, as it seems like one rule for her and another rule for everyone else. I'm sure you can see my point here?

My Mam is hardworking and she is reliable, it seems as if she's basically been given a written warning for being ill - how on Earth is this fair? She's been ill before and has dragged herself in to do a shift so she doesn't let anoyne down, but the times she hasn't made it in, she's been really bad. I just think taking everything in, the boss isn't being fair and my Mam is going to appeal against it.
When a company gives you a verbal warning it has to be written.So its a vebal written
Verbal written
Written warning
Final warning
Sack
Thats the order.
The company can go straight to written or a final depending on the offence
If the company new of your mums panic attacks when she applied for the job she can claim disability discrimination .
She can claim she is not being treated fare.
She can put a greivence in about this boss which the company has to follow.
Warnings dont last for ever they will always be on file but most last 3/6/9/12 months and thats it.
If your mother does have to leave claim constructive dismissal(she has to leave because the company is making it hard for her to stay)
Your house insurance might cover for taking the employer to court(as my cover covers for employment matters)
I wish your mum all the best with the panic attacks as unless you have them you dont understand.
I understand the mistake was yours, fair enough, but it actually doesn't help the case as she can't really be said to be a panic attack sufferer - if she has only had one...?

you say she is being penalised for being ill - however, she has not been ill, has she...?
she had one panic attack and then had 4 days off for unnecessary reasons - you do not get to take 2 days off because someone at work was not very nice to you!!

i don't believe it was necessary to take 2 days off to wear a monitor - but IF it was - why not take saturday and sunday
off?
or choose days that she was off anyway and do it then?
or use the monitor on the two days she had off for the bullying??
wearing the monitor could have waited a few days - not just after a week off for flu and when she was already in trouble for time off!

oh, and this woman is THE BOSS!
her actions are no concerns of yours and your mothers, she is allowed to do things your mother is not - because she is THE BOSS!
When your mother is the boss, she can take time off too.

from the comments you make of her boss, far from supporting your case, it actually just sounds like your mother has a bee in her bonnet because the boss is taking liberties and feels she should be able to take them too...well she can't...she is not the boss.
Question Author
Hmmm no you misunderstand me. The two days she had the monitor on, she took off as HOLIDAY as I've already said, so they don't count anyway. But the boss has put them down as illnes so this isn't right.

As for being a panic attack sufferer - she has had more than one - but it's only been one panic attack whilst she's been at work, hence only one absence from that.

The bullying was a different matter. It was around the time a famous child killer was released from prison, one of whom my mother shares the christian name with, and to be honest has the same features as her. So for a young member of staff to refer to her as this criminal in front of customers, then for the customers to leave their shopping and walk away from the shop - this isn't just being picked on, it's further than that. The boss hadn't reported this to the higher boss, she simply suggested my Mam took the time off until she sorted it, so my Mam did (as she'd only just started there) and came back to find nothing had been said.

Anyway this is irrelevant, my Mam has been warned for being ill - fair? I doubt it!

By the way - thanks to dave1969 for telling me about the stages of warning - I didn't realise this and I'll look into it for my Mam :o)
ahh, now we are getting somewhere.

you mean the boss gave your mum permission to have that time off , and knows it wasn't due to illness, but is claiming it is, in order to hide the fact that she did nothing about staff bullying?

and now has had to issue a written warning to cover her tracks and back up her claim that your mother has been having unauthorised absences?

have i got it right?
Question Author
Yes you have it right. I realise that I've not been clear! Sorry! I just wrote it all really quick and realise it looks like a muddle!

Anyway, my Mam rang the boss at work today and said she was appealing - and she just laughed in her face, so that was upsetting :o(
Its a shame the boss has laughed in her face.Is this women the owner?
If she isnt then conplain to someone higher.
If she is the boss play her at her own game do everything by the book ie work only the hours she is contracted to do and no more take your breaks when you should and throw health and safety at her when ever you can.If she trys to rush her to doing more work tell ok but if i have an accident while rushing i will sue and mention that i had the accident due to being rushed.
Companys dont like workers mentioning h/s but its the only way to get your own back.
Workers have more rights than they know and companys know this but will never say.
Tell her to not show she is cheesed off to much time will pass and it will be somebodys else,s turn
Hang in there but remember it,s only a job life is more inportant we all need money but there are other jobs where she will be treated better.
I have just left a company which was run the same mine is in the hands of my solicters
yes, go to a higher level - regional managers etc, the big boss.

at this stage though, she cannot really withdraw the statement without it looking really suspicious on her, so she will be unlikely to agree to that, perhaps your mum should work something else out with this wman, under threeat of grassing her up.
if your mum feels this would be impossible then just go straight ot the boss, as if your mum doesn't do it first, this woman may try ot get her sacked and this story will sound like sour grapes after
Question Author
The boss has now asked my Mam to bring the written warning into work when she goes in tomorrow and she'll 'rip it up in front of her and write a softer caution'.

Seems like the boss has realised she's done wrong. Still though, my Dad has wrote a letter for my Mam (he's better at that kind of thing!) saying that even a written 'caution' isn't right to be given when someone is ill.

I wish I could say it's a small business, but it's a very large well known company! Still, as least my Mam is getting somewhere.

Thank you for all your help people!
It sounds to me like the boss has now realised she's done wrong with your mum and not execepting she would be appealing.
Once you appeal a higher boss or director has to hear her appeal and this could of gone against the boss.
Even though the warning will be ripped up i would ask for it in writing from her because she might deny all knowledge in the future
Im glad your mum is getting some where
Question Author
The boss said she's going to rip up the warning but replace it with a 'sofrter' warning - so she's still getting a written warning, it just has nicer words in it - as if that's going to make her feel any better!

My Mam is still appealing against this warning, I think her boss is just expecting her to lie back and take it, but like I said to my Mam, if she doesn't do anything now, the boss will think she can do whatever she wants! I mean she's told my Mam she had already had a warning way back in Sept, but this is the first my Mam heard of it, and she hasn't signed anything! Basically I think the boss is scratching around trying to make things up and make it look like she deserved a warning!

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