Barnet UNISON has been formally notified by Barnet Council of it’s intention to consult on whether to impose what we are calling a ‘tax on the sick’. It is important for all Barnet UNISON members that we~ reject the proposal. However, the Council is insistent that it wants to commence consultation before coming to a decision later in the year.
37% of sickness is short term sickness
63% of sickness is long term sickness.
This means that those with serious health conditions such as stress, cancer, strokes etc are being targeted by our Council as their time off work is contributing to the high sickness levels.
It is Barnet UNISON’s view that this is both discriminatory and unacceptable.
Furthermore we have serious concerns about the process for staff with long term health conditions to be able to access ill health retirement options. Before Capita took over this service we had hardly any complaints about the occupational health service provided by a local GP based in Barnet. Now it is a private company and is causing widespread problems across all in-house services. It is important that for those trying to come to terms with long term health issues that they should be treated with dignity and respect. They do not need ongoing delays to a process which is not complicated. In our view a new local occupational health provider should be given a contract to see how they impact on the length of delays for those off sick still waiting for a decision.
As part of this consultation we have asked for a breakdown of the types of medical conditions for both short and long term sickness reporting.
We have also requested for a breakdown of return to work meetings as we are hearing across some services they are either not happening or sporadically. It is important that when someone is off sick that they have their one to one meeting.
We are also asking for a breakdown of sickness meetings in order to understand how frequent they are taking place across the services.
It’s important that staff understand that the Council has a duty of care towards their staff. If someone is off sick it is critical that the Council has used meetings with staff to understand why someone is off sick.
What happens next?
We will continue to update our members on the consultation and towards the end we will conduct an indicative strike ballot as we believe that this proposal to ‘tax the sick’ must be dropped. We need to hear directly from our members as to what they think of this proposal. Keep a lookout for our weekly eNEWS and any email/text messages from our branch office.
Barnet UNISON has produced a number of flyers which members can download or share with work colleagues here
If you have any questions please contact the Barnet UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or email firstname.lastname@example.org