Preparing to be let go on health grounds

Discussion in 'Redundancy, unemployment & jobseekers entitlements' started by DCD, Aug 2, 2017.

  1. DCD

    DCD Frequent Poster

    Posts:
    193
    I was involved in a accident in work 4yrs ago. I have not been in work for over the past 3 and a half years. I have been in and out of hospital on numerous occasions due to the accident. I have been on invalitity benefit for over two years now and also receive income continuous from a Cornmarket policy. Between welfare and policy I get two thirds of my pre accident wages.
    Last month my employer sent me for medical examination. To cut a long story short medical states I will not be able to return to work. Unfortunately I do agree with the report.
    I was to meet with head of HR department. Only second meeting with anyone from company since accident.
    (Settlement regarding accident last year on steps of court)
    Unfortunately when I phoned head of HR to confirm time of meeting it became very apparent that the person had no idea that I had a policy with Cornmarket even though it was paid through the company for 13yrs. The same person did not know how my policy would be affected if I was retired on medical grounds. ( I previously phoned Cornmarket and they advised me policy is payed to 60th birthday.
    The head of HR could not advise me on the most basic of questions I asked. I advised the said person that a meeting was a waste of time unless I was presented with exactly what entitlements I may/may not be entitled to. The HR manager agreed to postpone the meeting until she could seek out more information. Naturally enough I was very surprised and annoyed with the complete lack of preparation this person undertook before setting a meeting date.
    My employer is a member of the voluntary bodies. a private company funded by HSE with well in access of 250 employees.
    I am 54yrs old have worked solid from age of 16yrs. I joined the company June 2000 and have been paying into DC pension scheme since I started. Cornmarket continue to pay my pension contributions.
    I have absolutely no confidence in the head of HR.

    Could anybody advise me what I am entitled to if retired on medical grounds?
    What type of questions I should be asking the company.

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. Early Riser

    Early Riser Frequent Poster

    Posts:
    151
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2017
    So is this a public service pension (eg NHASS) ? If so, there is a fairly good ill-health retirement provision. Generally it provides a full pension immediately (based on your years of service) plus up to 6 and 2/3 added years. Your entitlement to Social Welfare illness/ invalidity payment should not be impacted. I note you have 17 years service with the company. I don't know if your previous work was in the public service but if so you could probably get this made pensionable if it is not so already.(There would be a cost to this but is tax deductible and good value. You probably could pay it from any lump sum)

    I have no idea how this would impact on your Cornmarket Policy. I would have thought that this is primarily a private arrangement rather than an organizational matter. Have you looked at the policy terms and/or spoken to Cornmarket?
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2017
  3. thedaddyman

    thedaddyman Frequent Poster

    Posts:
    699
    in fairness to the Head of HR, you rang them up to confirm the time of the meeting, they may not have done their research into your case and T&Cs at that stage. Why would you expect them to have that done before they set the meeting date. ? The whole point of setting a meeting date in the future is to allow both sides time to prepare

    You should follow up now and put your questions in writing to the Head of HR so they are clear what they are being asked and so that they can give you the best information and advice possible. Also that avoids any confusion. You should also ask for their responses in writing regardless of what is and isn't said in the meeting.

    I don't think you are going to solve this issue in one meeting either.
    • Your first point should be to ask what are your entitlements under the scheme and for how long will it be paid for. In the case of my own private sector employers it is 66% of base salary until retirement but it will vary from company to company. Remember if you have any allowances, ask are they included in the calculation as it's quite possible they won't
    • Secondly ask if they will continue to fund your pension and if not, seek a pension statement so you understand what you are walking away with
    • If you have any other entitlements (eg VHI) ask will they continue to be funded


    Seperately you should enquire about your social welfare entitlements with Citizens Advice or some other body
     
  4. DCD

    DCD Frequent Poster

    Posts:
    193
    Thanks for replies. No it is not a public service job. I pay 5% into pension employer pays 7% into DC pension with new Ireland. Cornmarket will continue to pay my full pension monies into New Ireland until I reach sixty. Invalidity payment will remain in place long term as I need at least two further operations.
    The head of HR had set a date for a meeting and I was only ringing to confirm appointment. Through this phone call it became very apparent that the person had done no research for the planned meeting. On two occasions she said "sorry I have not had a chance to study your file". the meeting was to happen three days after my phone call.
    I have requested that I am forwarded relevant information in writing prior to any meeting taking place and I would e-mail concerns or areas that I feel need to be addressed.Thanks again.
     
  5. mathepac

    mathepac Frequent Poster

    Posts:
    6,241
    Disgraceful carry on, but not surprising in the sector.

    Are you a member of a union? Were you issued with an employee handbook at any stage since joining the organisation? Do you have a written contract? Did your employer have a "Policy & Procedures" file which you had to read and sign that you understood and agreed with the content? Ask for access again as you are still an employee. Your circumstances may not be covered but you might gain some insight.

    Ask if you can bring a friend to the meeting for support and to document proceedings.
     
  6. thedaddyman

    thedaddyman Frequent Poster

    Posts:
    699
    I still don't see what the issue is because someone hadn't completed their prep work 3 days before a scheduled meeting. There is also the possibility that the HR manager was not going to get into a discussion with you over the phone without witnesses being present at her end and therefore was just fobbing you off with an excuse. One thing you should ask for is a list of attendees at the proposed meeting

    You said you don't agree with the medical report. Who carried it out, the company doctor, your doctor or Cornmarkets doctor? Have you got a 2nd opinion that you can bring to the meeting that contradicts what the first doctor is saying?. If you are intending on fighting the finding then you need strong medical support to back you on this, your own personal opinion won't carry much weight
     
  7. mathepac

    mathepac Frequent Poster

    Posts:
    6,241
    OP said they DO agree with report.
     
  8. mathepac

    mathepac Frequent Poster

    Posts:
    6,241
    "The HR manager agreed to postpone the meeting until she could seek out more information", a quote from OP. When @DCD phoned to confirm the already scheduled meeting, the HR manager admitted she was unprepared at the time of the call and by agreeing to the postponement, acknowledged she would have shown up unprepared but for the call. I repeat, a disgrace.
     
  9. Early Riser

    Early Riser Frequent Poster

    Posts:
    151
    OP did not say this -rather that she said she would "seek out more information". There is a considerable difference.

    Just to seek out more information myself from DCD - Is the Cornmarket policy (and I assume it is a Salary Protection Policy?) provided and paid for by the company or is it policy you took out with Cornmarket and the company has facilitated you to pay by it by instalment through salary deduction (as it might do with an AVC, for example)?
     
  10. mathepac

    mathepac Frequent Poster

    Posts:
    6,241
    OP clearly states HR manager "had no idea", "did not know how", "could not advise me" and OP was "very surprised and annoyed with the complete lack of preparation". As would I have been and cannot understand why you feel the need to defend the indefensible.
     
  11. Early Riser

    Early Riser Frequent Poster

    Posts:
    151
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017
    I met a friend the other day and he asked me what my family were doing for Christmas this year. I said I "did not know. In fact I "had no idea". I did not "admit I was unprepared". Perhaps he told his OH that I was unprepared. That might be his interpretation .

    We still do not know the nature of the Cornmarket policy. As the daddyman has indicated above, there were still 3 days to the meeting, which is probably the interval in which most people do their preparation, in terms of reviewing documentation, policies, etc.

    By the way, I am not defending anyone ("indefensible" or otherwise) - nor condemning anyone.

    Maybe your expression of outrage is justified. I would, at least, like more information before getting to that stage. Or maybe I just prefer light to heat?
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017
  12. thedaddyman

    thedaddyman Frequent Poster

    Posts:
    699
    I'm not defending anyone here either, I just don't see what the outrage is around the HR manager not being prepared 3 days before the meeting

    I've sat in that HR Managers seat for issues like this, one of which was 2 weeks after I joined the company. I can assure you that if that person had rang me up 3 days before the meeting I would have been far from ready for it. That would especially be the case where the staff member had long service and quite often you will find that their T&C's may have differences and nuances in comparison to more recent hires and thus more investigation is needed. However, I would have been ready for the meeting and would have had a slot in my diary booked to prep for it, talk to the supplier, read the file and talk to our legal person if needed. Even if I had all the information to hand, I'd be reluctant to give it out over the phone so as to avoid a "he said/she said" scenario. Instead I would deal with them in the meeting which would be minuted or answers given in writing afterwards so there is no confusion

    In fairness to the OP, the questions he asked should help the HR manager get prepared in that they know what to expect.

    However the fact that the HR manager postponed the meeting would be of some concern in that they may have underestimated the complexity of what sounds like a straightforward issue to deal with or that their internal records and file on this case is light and lacking in detail. Personally, if I was the OP and I hadn't heard back with a revised date in a few days, I'd be chasing it up and I'd also submit all my questions well in advance so that at least you minimise the risk of "I'll have to come back to you on that!"
     
  13. DCD

    DCD Frequent Poster

    Posts:
    193
    Just to offer a little more information and then get to what I am after.
    Over the past four years the HR manager was the person who wrote to me regarding appointments for insurance company consultants, insurance company engineer and occupational medical assessors. Letters always arrived on a friday?
    Normal practice be it a person out sick or through an accident the company would send you up to Medmark occupational assessors in Baggot street every three months. Medmark who the company actually pay wrote a letter to the HR manager outlining how they felt I was been treated badly. I was only sent to Medmark once a year after the letter. I know of two employees who were retired on medical grounds.
    What I am trying to say is that the HR manager knows me well to see and to talk to. She is fully aware of the accident legal proceedings and everything to do with me. My health is ruined after the accident. Both Medmark and my own doctors have stated this in writing. I certainly do not accept that a lady of her experience and with full detailed knowledge of me and my current status could not answer simple questions around my entitlements. without winging I have been to hell and back both physically and mentally. A high court case hanging over me for years did not help.

    Enough about that. My policy with Cornmarket is income protection and I payed for it myself through the company. I have a copy of my original contract which outlines basic areas but does not go into any detail regarding my situation. Any body know if I am just put out to graze on health grounds. I am not a member of any union.


    I appreciate that these situations require due procedure. But I think a bit of respect at this stage is required.
    Four weeks and one month after the accident I received a booklet from another member of the HR department. I think it was called how we can support you and your family. I said this to the HR manager. She asked for the name of the book so she could write it down. that says it all.

    thanks
     
  14. Early Riser

    Early Riser Frequent Poster

    Posts:
    151
    DCD - Obviously a very difficult time for you and my sympathies.

    Regarding the Cornmarket policy,though. As you describe it, it seems an essentially private arrangement between you and Cornmarket. I am having difficulty understanding how you expected the HR manager to have any knowledge of its details and how its benefits would be impacted by your proposed medical retirement. If an employee is paying VHI premiums via payroll the HR Manager could hardly be expected to be aware of what types of procedures he/she is covered for. The premium deduction facility is only a convenience for the employee, not anything HR would (or should) have any knowledge about.

    So unless I am missing something, I don't see how your HR manager's lack of knowledge of Cornmarket is such a cause of contention. I do understand that you have a concern that you could be disadvantaged from the benefits of the policy by retirement but this is something you have to inform yourself about and consider what actions are open to you (Is there a broker you could consult?).

    I understand that this whole experience must have been unbelievably difficult - and as you outline it, badly handled by the company. Possibly you are very angry with the company and its representatives as a result but is this anger clouding your judgement on dealing with this in a practical manner which will be most beneficial to yourself? I understand that you do not have Union rep(?) but can you access anyone else to assist and advocate for you in this difficult process who might at the same time be more emotionally detached ?

    DCD - I may have misunderstood or misconstrued your circumstances in the above and, if so, my apologies.
     
  15. DCD

    DCD Frequent Poster

    Posts:
    193
    Thanks. Cornmarket sold me my income protection and payments come from friends first. Payments are made to my pension through the company.
    On five occasions payments to my pension were not made over the past 3 years I do have to contact my employer to rectify these errors. HR wrote to me a few years back and said such issues must go through them. So as much as I would like a disconnect it is not completely possible.
    I would not think of meeting anybody from the company again without a witness. Yes I am fed up and angry. But hopefully still rational.
    While others might not agree I do think that a HR department in any type of employment has a duty of care to not only the company but the employee. I do not think that when the company sends one for medical assessment and a report comes back stating ones working days are clearly over that information is not researched regarding the effects on said employee.
    Companies run pre retirement courses, courses for people about to be made redundant.
    I have been told that I will not be able to return to work again through an accident caused by an fellow employee.
    I do not think it is too much to ask the company how and what I am entitled to.
     
  16. mathepac

    mathepac Frequent Poster

    Posts:
    6,241
    I would write to the ceo/general manager outlining your experiences with HR and requesting that someone more knowledgeable be nominated as your point of contact regarding these matters. Disgraceful that your HR contact sounds so incompetent and ill-informed.
     
  17. Early Riser

    Early Riser Frequent Poster

    Posts:
    151
    DCD What a difficult situation. I am still wondering if it would be possible for you to get some professional advice on both your permanent health insurance policy and your DC scheme and its ill-health retirement terms. I am no expert on this but some thoughts have occurred in the interim.

    The Cornmarket Permanent Health Policy guarantees you a certain income up to a certain age. In your case this seems to be 2/3 of salary up to age 60. As the max amount is normally inclusive of all income (ie, Social Welfare and sick pay from employer) then it makes sense that your Cornmarket policy pays out through your employer. They top up what you are getting otherwise to 67 %. Is this right ? But it is still a private contract between you and Cornmarket. That is why I think you need to get your own advise on this and not rely on your employer (specific enquiries to Cornmarket from your employer may not be entertained anyway - data protection, privacy,etc).

    I had initially assumed, given the nature of your employer, that your pension would be public sector. But I note that it is private sector and a DC Scheme. I do not know anything about these schemes. However, what I surmise is that unlike DB schemes, there may be a considerable reduction in annual pension if you take ill- health retirement, as opposed to retirement at normal age. As your Cornmarket policy guarantees you a certain income up to 60, it may be in your best interest not to take an ill-health pension from your employer now and maintain the benefits of Cornmarket up to 60. If you take no pension or sick pay from your employer until 60, will Cornmarket continue to top you up to 67% salary? Get advice about this separately from your employer.

    You need to find out how the level of your work pension (for life) will be impacted by ill-health retirement now, relative to retirement at 60. Certainly your HR department should be able to advise on this but it would be better if you could also get your own advise separately. What do the trustees say?

    If you would be better off financially be not taking ill-health retirement now, then you need to know your options and rights in this regard. Can they enforce ill-health retirement or is it just an option they offer you? I have no idea on this myself.

    For your meeting I would be focussing on getting information on as much of the above as possible. Make no commitments and agree to nothing.Have someone reliable or professional with you. Make your own independent enquiries afterwards.

    I think you need to focus for the moment on getting information and facts so as to clarify your options. That means leaving aside all issues about the HR manager personally and also your broader emotional relationship with your employer. This why I suggest an independent person could be helpful.

    Your situation is complex. You may get more information/advise on this Board if you (a) ask a specific question on Ill-health Retirement and DC pensions in the Pensions forum and (b) a specific question on Permanent Health Insurance in the Insurance forum.

    Best of luck.
     
  18. DCD

    DCD Frequent Poster

    Posts:
    193
    Thanks Early Riser. Cornmarket sold me the Income Protection policy. Friends First are the insurance company that pay me each month.
    Yep between my Invalidity pension and my Friends First payment I end up with 2/3 of my salary. Friends first also pay my pension contributions.
    Before the accident I payed 5% from my salary and the company payed 7%. I am unsure if the company still pay the 7% and Friends First pay the 5% or if Friends First pay the full amount. I think Friends pay the full 12%. a senior member of the organisation is one of the trustees of the DC pension scheme with New Ireland.
    My understanding as I mentioned is the above income structure remains in place until the age of sixty. What I hope to do is not touch the pension until the age of sixty when payments into my scheme will cease.
    Yes I need to focus on the implications of been made to retire due to ill health. I have spoken to a person independent to the whole situation who is willing to help me out.
    At this point I have asked the HR to supply me in writing what exactly my entitlements are prior to a physical meeting. This would save time and confusion and form a basis for a productive meeting.
    The HR manager said she would do this. I will wait and see what information is produced and seek professional advise. Hopefully I can report back near term.
    Many Thanks D