GDPR & GP certs/HR Dept

Blackrock1

Frequent Poster
But they do know why. They have a certificate from a qualified medical doctor who has certified that medically they are unfit to carry out the duties of work. The reason why they are medical unfit is not required, that is private.

Ask yourself, what are you going to do with the reason why they are sick. Are you going to judge the person? (Oh I had pneumonia and I came to work every day but this person just has a cold and their doctor is giving them two weeks, they are slacking... sort of thing.) The question the medical professional would ask is where are your medical qualifications to make such a judgement, it is not your place. What if you had a temporary staff member who was undergoing fertility treatment and you decided on the basis of this written in a medical certificate that you would not renew her contract even though her work was of a satisfactory standard? It is to prevent such scenarios happening that the reason for the illness does not need to be on the certificate.



What you have here is a performance related issue rather than an illness related issue. If you have an issue with the quality of their work then put them on a PIP. If you are concerned that they are fit for work despite being certified unfit by their doctor then send them to your company doctor. This is a cost to you but there is a process in place to do this. Companies like https://chi.ie/about-us/ are specialist in this sort of stuff (I have no connection to them). If your worker says they are too sick to drive there etc, then pay and send a taxi to collect them. Do it now, today, don't wait to let your suspicions fester.
dont worry the person involved wont be coming back, it was done before today ;)

And yes it is a performance issue but with a complicit doctor signing someone off.
 

Blackrock1

Frequent Poster
But they do know why. They have a certificate from a qualified medical doctor who has certified that medically they are unfit to carry out the duties of work. The reason why they are medical unfit is not required, that is private.

Ask yourself, what are you going to do with the reason why they are sick. Are you going to judge the person? (Oh I had pneumonia and I came to work every day but this person just has a cold and their doctor is giving them two weeks, they are slacking... sort of thing.) The question the medical professional would ask is where are your medical qualifications to make such a judgement, it is not your place. What if you had a temporary staff member who was undergoing fertility treatment and you decided on the basis of this written in a medical certificate that you would not renew her contract even though her work was of a satisfactory standard? It is to prevent such scenarios happening that the reason for the illness does not need to be on the certificate.



What you have here is a performance related issue rather than an illness related issue. If you have an issue with the quality of their work then put them on a PIP. If you are concerned that they are fit for work despite being certified unfit by their doctor then send them to your company doctor. This is a cost to you but there is a process in place to do this. Companies like https://chi.ie/about-us/ are specialist in this sort of stuff (I have no connection to them). If your worker says they are too sick to drive there etc, then pay and send a taxi to collect them. Do it now, today, don't wait to let your suspicions fester.
do you believe that in all cases that doctors that are giving people certs are convinced of their inability to work?

I dont.
 

Leo

Moderator
If you have concerns that sick leave policy is being abused, you should have documented procedures to deal with such cases and have your company doctor assess them. Even when your company doctor carries out such an assessment, you'll note that they will share little or no specifics of the nature of the illness with you, just the details you are entitled to regarding their fitness to work.

Having specifics of the nature of the illness exposes the company to discrimination, or wrongful or constructive dismissal claims.

do you believe that in all cases that doctors that are giving people certs are convinced of their inability to work?
Absolutely not, and the DEASP issued new guidelines to GPs in 2015 with the aim of limiting time certified off work as in many cases this is found to prolong or exacerbate the underlying issues. If you run a fair and honest workplace, your staff for the most part will reciprocate that fairness and will not abuse sick leave. If you manage an environment of mistrust, prying into your employee's private lives, you can expect that culture to reach every level of the organisation.
 

Sunny

Frequent Poster
do you believe that in all cases that doctors that are giving people certs are convinced of their inability to work?
No. Do I believe in all cases where an employee has a cert saying they are unfit for work but do not go into specifics that they are lying lazy slackers. I don't.

Leo is right. The only places I have ever seen sick leave abused is in places where employees are treated like schoolchildren with managers questioning them or doubting them and putting them under pressure to come in when sick. Some people will abuse sick leave but there are laws in place that allow employers deal with that. People who automatically look at certs or sick leave like it is a symptom of some sort of weakness or an employee taking the p*ss should not be in a management position.
 

Blackrock1

Frequent Poster
If you have concerns that sick leave policy is being abused, you should have documented procedures to deal with such cases and have your company doctor assess them. Even when your company doctor carries out such an assessment, you'll note that they will share little or no specifics of the nature of the illness with you, just the details you are entitled to regarding their fitness to work.

Having specifics of the nature of the illness exposes the company to discrimination, or wrongful or constructive dismissal claims.



Absolutely not, and the DEASP issued new guidelines to GPs in 2015 with the aim of limiting time certified off work as in many cases this is found to prolong or exacerbate the underlying issues. If you run a fair and honest workplace, your staff for the most part will reciprocate that fairness and will not abuse sick leave. If you manage an environment of mistrust, prying into your employee's private lives, you can expect that culture to reach every level of the organisation.
Without going into specifics , small to medium growing co's dont tend to have company doctors. In fact i dont recall ever hearing of a company doctor in any of the companies i have worked in, ranging from 1000s of employee to hundred. Now i have been lucky enough to remain in good health so maybe i just never came across one.
 

Blackrock1

Frequent Poster
No. Do I believe in all cases where an employee has a cert saying they are unfit for work but do not go into specifics that they are lying lazy slackers. I don't.

Leo is right. The only places I have ever seen sick leave abused is in places where employees are treated like schoolchildren with managers questioning them or doubting them and putting them under pressure to come in when sick. Some people will abuse sick leave but there are laws in place that allow employers deal with that. People who automatically look at certs or sick leave like it is a symptom of some sort of weakness or an employee taking the p*ss should not be in a management position.
I dont think that was my contention either, in the main i think people who are off sick are genuine in that regard but its very easy to get signed off if you arent sick, that was the point i was making.

I disagree with your second contention, sick leave is also abused in companies where sick pay is paid and people arent questioned at all, there is a happy medium somewhere.

And you are drawing inferences that werent made in your last statement.
 

Sunny

Frequent Poster
I dont think that was my contention either, in the main i think people who are off sick are genuine in that regard but its very easy to get signed off if you arent sick, that was the point i was making.

I disagree with your second contention, sick leave is also abused in companies where sick pay is paid and people arent questioned at all, there is a happy medium somewhere.

And you are drawing inferences that werent made in your last statement.
That is your contention. It is easy to get signed off sick when you aren't. It actually isn't easy. Most companies have policies to stop people taking repeated or long term certified sick leave without their own medical checks. Days of walking into a surgery asking for a cert on a Monday are gone. Having said that, if someone walks into a Doctor and says they haven't slept in a few days, are very stressed and worried about work, are you saying that a GP should always operate on the premise that the person in front of them are lying?

Sick leave is paid in my company. We have a certain number of uncertified days every year. That is not abused i.e. most recent stats to hand show that out of 400 people there was a total of 150 uncertified sick days taken in 2017. If people in your company or people reporting to you are abusing sick leave then you need to deal with that and ask why and not make general statements that companies should be entitled to know a person's medical details because they get paid by the company.
 

Blackrock1

Frequent Poster
That is your contention. It is easy to get signed off sick when you aren't. It actually isn't easy.
i dont recall referring to repeated or long term sick, i contend that you can walk into a doctor on a monday morning and get signed off a for a few days pretty easily and if you tell them you are suffering stress a couple of weeks isnt hard to get.

I am referring to a particular situation where someone who was perfectly fine left during the day, never returned and then had a cert for longer than a week. Im not saying that means everyone who is off sick is taking the mick, far from it. In this particular situation the person was and i take issue with the fact that the cert gave no detail. I understand the legislation is contrary to that view point but i maintain my entitlement to at least have an opinion if thats ok.

And i don't need your management advice thanks, thats more than once in this thread you have offered it. :)
 

Sunny

Frequent Poster
i dont recall referring to repeated or long term sick, i contend that you can walk into a doctor on a monday morning and get signed off a for a few days pretty easily and if you tell them you are suffering stress a couple of weeks isnt hard to get.

I am referring to a particular situation where someone who was perfectly fine left during the day, never returned and then had a cert for longer than a week. Im not saying that means everyone who is off sick is taking the mick, far from it. In this particular situation the person was and i take issue with the fact that the cert gave no detail. I understand the legislation is contrary to that view point but i maintain my entitlement to at least have an opinion if thats ok.

And i don't need your management advice thanks, thats more than once in this thread you have offered it. :)
Well no it's not ok. Maybe the person was taking the mickey. But just maybe the person had personal problems that you knew nothing about. Maybe being questioned about the quality of their work was just the straw that broke the camels back. Maybe they had been struggling for weeks or months with personal issues that they didn't feel like they were in a position to share. I don't know. You don't know. But you still jumped straight to the conclusion that is all a con job because they were pulled up on something in work. The fact that you then said they won't be back with a winking smiling face kind of says a lot as well. Maybe this has been going on for months and you have tried and tried to deal with it in different ways but that's not what you described above. And then you think you think you are entitled to see details on a cert. You are legally not allowed to and I am sorry but don't know who would expect to see personal medical details on a cert. You are entitled to know if a person is fit for work or not. It protects the employee and it protects the employer to have it that way. If you have concerns about the cert issued, then you deal with the employee and if you think the GP simply issued the cert because he was being paid €60, then there are steps you can take there as well.
 

Blackrock1

Frequent Poster
Well no it's not ok. Maybe the person was taking the mickey.
yes it is ok, its not for you to decide

and yes they were. I have been managing people long enough to understand genuine illnesses, genuine issues, genuine personal circumstances that require understanding of which we have had a lot. This wasnt any of that, it was someone deciding a job wasnt for them and taking a holiday before they left in lieu of notice.

Also you have no information about the circumstances around the person not returning so your speculation and inferences you are drawing have no merit.
 
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odyssey06

Frequent Poster
i dont recall referring to repeated or long term sick, i contend that you can walk into a doctor on a monday morning and get signed off a for a few days pretty easily and if you tell them you are suffering stress a couple of weeks isnt hard to get.

I am referring to a particular situation where someone who was perfectly fine left during the day, never returned and then had a cert for longer than a week. Im not saying that means everyone who is off sick is taking the mick, far from it. In this particular situation the person was and i take issue with the fact that the cert gave no detail. I understand the legislation is contrary to that view point but i maintain my entitlement to at least have an opinion if thats ok.
I don't understand your issue with the fact that the cert gave no detail. Even if the cert had said stress, what could you have done to act upon it that doesn't involve a company doctor?

You are entitled to you opinion about what is and is not a genuine medical sick cert, but I think the Workplace Relations Commission would take a rather dim view of your standing wrt providing expert medical opinions.
 

Blackrock1

Frequent Poster
I don't understand your issue with the fact that the cert gave no detail. Even if the cert had said stress, what could you have done to act upon it that doesn't involve a company doctor?

You are entitled to you opinion about what is and is not a genuine medical sick cert, but I think the Workplace Relations Commission would take a rather dim view of your standing wrt providing expert medical opinions.
i dont think the WRC will be taking a view dim or otherwise. But i have taken a dim view of what this person has done and the doctor that facilitated it for what its worth
 

odyssey06

Frequent Poster
I have taken a dim view of what this person has done and the doctor that facilitated it for what its worth
And you may well be right about both parties, but I don't see what material difference seeing the medical condition on the cert makes in terms of you being able to establish sufficient proof that your view of the incident is accurate such that you could convince a third party.
 

Purple

Frequent Poster
Your employer only needs to know you are sick. Unless they are also a doctor and have examined you they are in no position to second guess your GP.

Your employer cannot ask you for any information beyond that. It is not useful information to them and it is none of their business.

Your GP doesn't understand the previous law or the new GDPR. It sounds very paternalistic for them to say that they won't write down what's wrong with you unless your employer says it is alright for them to do so. You are the data owner. You can take the detailed note the GP gives you are wear it as a hat and they still won't be breaching GDPR. Experts in one area are prone to thinking that they are experts in other areas as well.

Let your employers HR department know that they are currently breaking the law. They should be thanking you.
 

kitty81

Frequent Poster
Just to provide an update. I asked my GP to put in writing the reasons why he would not put the nature of illness on cert to which I got no response & my HR didn't come near me again but I was paid as normal this month.

Hopefully I won't have this situation again but I would love anybody else's experience posted if anyone else finds themselves in similar situation.
 

MangoJoe

Frequent Poster
A whole thread about supposedly professional people in Human Resources who cannot grasp the basic tenants of their own profession even subsequent to their failings being highlighted to them in simple terms by other parties operating outside of their field of "expertise".

In my career experience to date HR have always been an interesting cohort of people to watch as they go about making a lot of their own rules to feather their nests vey comfortably on a foundation of next to nothing.

And to the strident poster above who thinks that every 21 year old 'child' in HR should have access to everyone else's personal and private medical episodes which will often be of a potentially very sensitive/embarrassing/career limiting (through misconception or ignorance etc in the wrong hands) please do go have a bit of a think about what you're saying.
 

Leo

Moderator
...that every 21 year old 'child' in HR should have access...
There are good and bad in HR, and they can only be as good as their management allow them to be, but suggesting they're all children doesn't really add to the debate.
 

MangoJoe

Frequent Poster
Leo your inference is incorrect - I never said that all HR personnel were 21 year old children, I was simply making the point that sharing personal and private medical details with HR would typically include sharing these particulars with all levels including the junior, inexperienced and relatively speaking, immature individuals such as I've seen in HR offices across the length and breadth of my employment history.

I can just imagine 20 year old Tyler the HR Junior Executive Associate shouting "OK GOOGLE - WHATS A HYSTERECTOMY?!?!" at his new smartphone as he wonders why Michelle from accounts has been out for 4 days in a row and debating whether should he just go right on ahead and send her a written warning anyway.....
 

Leo

Moderator
Leo your inference is incorrect - I never said that all HR personnel were 21 year old children,
So why even bring up "every 21 year old 'child' in HR"?

I can just imagine 20 year old Tyler the HR Junior Executive Associate shouting "OK GOOGLE - WHATS A HYSTERECTOMY?!?!"
This is a serious topic, your musings are irrelevant and a distraction.
 
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