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Jenny McKenzie
Jenny McKenzie,
Category: UK Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 6113
Experience:  10 Years of experience in Employment Law and HR
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My wife, a primary school teacher, has been signed off work

Customer Question

My wife, a primary school teacher, has been signed off work for two months due to work related stress. She feels her boss has been bullying and harassing her and generally not being fair. She attended a new job interview the day before going to the doctor to get signed off and found that the head teacher had written an unneccesarily harsh reference, which is what tipped her over the edge. She is now not going to nominate the head teacher as a referee for future interviews, but my question is, is it acceptable for her to attend further interviews while signed off sick for work related stress? The head teacher will definitely find out that she has attended the interview. Could she be disciplined? I can't see anything in her contract that covers this. She has already handed her notice in, which takes effect 2 days after the sick note runs out.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: UK Employment Law
Expert:  Jenny McKenzie replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome to Just Answer, how long has she worked there for?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

She has worked for this school since last August, but has been employed by the council at a different school since 2009, so I believe her start date for the purposes of SSP etc would be 2009.
Expert:  Jenny McKenzie replied 2 years ago.
Hi this is a difficult situation in some respects as she owes a contractual duty of trust and confidence whilst still engaged by the school. It may be considered to breach that trust if she goes to interviews during work time whilst off sick.

It is safer in my opinion to phone and ask to take holiday on the dates of the interviews (which is what she would have to do if she was well enough to work). It may be that the employer states that this is not necessary or would not take action but if she is already suffering from work based stress it is not worth the added stress that she could be disciplined over this.

If she chooses not to she could argue that she should not be disciplined because she is taking steps to alleviate the stress by trying to find another job. In my opinion this argument is quite weak. If the employer was ruthless they could argue it amounts to gross misconduct and you wife will not want a dismissal for breach of trust on her record.

If you have any further questions please do ask. If I have answered your question I would be grateful if you would give my answer a positive rating.

Thank you and all the best to your wife in her interviews.
Jenny McKenzie,
Satisfied Customers: 6113
Experience: 10 Years of experience in Employment Law and HR
Jenny McKenzie and other UK Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for you answer.

I have another related question about the reference the head teacher wrote. Do I need to ask another question or continue here? Thanks.
Expert:  Jenny McKenzie replied 2 years ago.
Hi ask ahead on here.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
OK, thanks.

Are either the head teacher that wrote the reference or the school that received it obliged under the DPA to supply a copy of it? We already asked the school that received it, who said they were not at liberty to divulge it. Surely because they have information on my wife, she has a right to see it?

We wanted to ask both schools for a copy of the reference to see if there are any differences. Thanks.
Expert:  Jenny McKenzie replied 2 years ago.
Yes you can make a subject access request under DPA to both schools. They can take up to 40
Days to supply the document and may charge a £10 admin fee.

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