I have an injury that happened outside of work - an infected toe. I am on antibiotics. I can walk but it is very painful.

The job I normally do is standing all day so I was told to move to another area, which involves walking constantly for the next 10 hours. I refused this work because it was unreasonable, I was then told I am unfit for work, and I should go home. I told my employer they can send me home but they would still have to pay me. They then threatened me with disciplinary action, and then said if I stayed inside the building and still refuse the work they would take me off the clock.

  • Failed to make reasonable adjustments for 1 day
  • Threatened with disciplinary
  • Told I was unfit for work but would not send me home
  • I am fit to work just need adjustments for one day

Are they wrong to act like this?

  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Snow Oct 18 at 8:53

Sorry this isn't going to be the answer you wanted..

told I was unfit for work but would not send me home

and

I am fit to work just need adjustments for one day.

You're unfit for work through injury/illness not resulting from work activities so should really be following whatever the sickness policy is for your company. The work they requested of you sounds reasonable (something like an office or retail worker being asked to take a 10 mile hike over mountainous terrain when that is couldn't be foreseen as part of the job would be an example of "unreasonable" - just walking around another area of the facility isn't I'm afraid) and you refused to do it. You haven't "shown willing" and therefore the onus is on you to declare yourself sick and leave.

I'm assuming here that your goal in asking to be sent home is to be eligible for pay (also assuming that your employer doesn't offer sick pay beyond Statutory Sick Pay), unfortunately this doesn't apply in your situation as it is you that refused duties first. If (for example) you had agreed to do the work assigned and they had said to you "this isn't working, you can hardly walk - go home!" then it would have counted as you having shown willing and they would have had to pay you (unless you are on a zero-hour contract).

If you have been sick for 4 consecutive days or more (including non-working days) then you are eligible for SSP and can claim that for up to 28 weeks (although it is not paid for the first 3 days).

If your company does provide company sick pay (a.k.a. an "occupational scheme") then check your contract for any conditions that need to be followed (such as reporting methods, deadlines and quantity limits) and if you can meet those then then go home, put your feet up and recuperate! That's what it's there for.

failed to make reasonable adjustments for 1 day

They are under no obligation to do so, the legal obligations around making "reasonable adjustments" applies in the case of disability, pregnancy (during and after), and long-term health conditions such as arthritis - not because you're sick and injured.

threatened with disciplinary

Are you really surprised by this? You've behaved insubordinately, made unreasonable demands and tried to make your sickness/injury their problem. I'm surprised it's only at the "threat" stage to be honest!

Are they wrong to act like this?

Nope, sorry!

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Oct 19 at 3:42

If you refer to the ACAS page on Reasonable adjustments in the workplace, you'll find (unfortunately for you) that employers in the UK are only required to make these adjustments for workers with disabilities - and makes no mention of (presumably short-term) sickness or injury.

As such, their determination that you were "unfit for work" seems to have been justified (at least technically), so it appears that they've done nothing illegal.

I'm not entirely clear on the events you describe around being told that you're unfit for work, as first you write

told I am unfit for work, and I should go home

but then

told I was unfit for work but would not send me home

With the limited info you've given it looks to me as though you were expected to "take a sick day", and whether or not that would be paid time off depends your entitlement to statutory sick pay.

Superficially is does seem that they were somewhat unreasonable in asking you to do this other job involving some walking when your normal job is just standing, but you haven't shared much around this so there might be other factors at play here ...

  • you're correct - reasonable adjustments are applicable only to those considered "disabled" for work purposes. This can include physical and mental health conditions and it doesn't need to be permanent but it does need to be long term and leave the individual at a significant disadvantage for either obtaining to retaining employment – motosubatsu Oct 17 at 12:33
  • @MartinBonner - yep - I'm getting my employment geography confused. Better now? – brhans Oct 17 at 15:09
  • Much better - thanks. – Martin Bonner Oct 17 at 15:15

Failed to make reasonable adjustments for 1 day

Your question does not identify any adjustment that you proposed to your employer that you consider "reasonable". The closest is that you imply that the employer should allow you to remain on the clock while you do not engage in any activity beneficial to your employer. That is not reasonable, and it isn't really an "adjustment". An adjustment is when the employer alters your job duties, not when they eliminate them entirely. And a reasonable adjustment is one that does not impose an undue burden on the employer. This condition is generally not defined to high precision, but it is generally taken to mean that, even when the cost of the adjustment is taken into account, the employer is still gaining a net benefit from employing you. Having to pay someone who isn't doing any productive work is not at all beneficial to your employer.

Told I was unfit for work but would not send me home

But earlier you said "I was then told I am unfit for work, and I should go home".

I am fit to work just need adjustments for one day

Nothing in your question supports your assertion that you are fit to work. While it is entirely possible that your unnamed employer in an unnamed field employing you to engage in unnamed duties may have some position that they can put you in in which you can be productive, we aren't mind readers. In answering your question as to whether they are wrong to act as they as have, we can give answers only on what you put in your question

Are your employers wrong to act like this? Yes. This isn't fair.

Can they do this with an almost iron clad certainty of no negative legal consequences? Yes.

It sounds like you're an hourly worker. A stubbed toe should have been sick leave. If you're part time you probably don't have this. You also probably don't have the money to take any legal action against the company so they aren't going to pay you. To make this worse for you, the company probably has a reasonably strong legal defense for this i.e. company policy is not to send you home sick if you refuse work.

If there's someone you can talk to, like a union or lawyer willing to offer you free consultation you should talk to them, but you're probably not getting your shift's wage for that day. Today's events are probably just going to get recorded by your supervisor's point of view.

Sorry.

My guess is that if you're actually right and the company was supposed to supply you with those things, the company will just claim you didn't communicate that you were sick and injured.

Taking sick time off was really your best option here.

So perhaps my views on this are not entirely in line with how things are done in the UK, but here is the impression I am getting from this scenario.

The post does not really describe what kind of role they have. This role could be something that has a multitude of duties or even acts as a floater worker where day-to-day could involve walking, standing, etc. In this case, the employer was right to send them home. If they are unable to perform the task they are hired for, then the employer is not responsible for paying them.

Another scenario, the worker can work in a sit-down position doing a task. Perhaps that particular position is already staffed for the day and those workers are better performers than the poster. Perhaps the person's original role is not as necessary as the sit-down role so the productivity would not be missed. In this case, the employer is correct in sending them home. No sense in the company taking a loss in productivity.

Last scenario, same as above except the worker is able to perform at a satisfactory level as the people currently there. Perhaps the employer did not want to shift someone out of that role to cover the poster's role, or it would have cost them more to do so. This is a slightly more dicey situation where it would really depend on all the factors.

Overall, the poster did not fully describe the situation in order to really put blame somewhere. As it reads, the poster should be sent home for refusing to be productive for their employer. You are paid to do a job, if you cannot do the job, you will not be paid. That is the most basic way employer-employee relations work. Hurt on the job or legally disabled and hired by the employer then it is the employer's responsibility to provide accommodations. Unable to do the job you're hired for then prepare to not have that job anymore regardless of the circumstances.

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