Appeal Ill Health

AIMS

To provide Employee Health Service (EHS) advice and Managerial support to assist employees with ill health to recover.

To find suitable alternative work within the Post Office to assist the employee to continue in employment.

To ensure a supportive and fair approach to employees who are unable to continue to undertake their normal duties due to ill health.

To avoid ill health retirement without financial support.

Where employees are permanently or for the foreseeable future incapable of undertaking any work or where alternative suitable work is not available, to maximise the benefits available on retirement.

SCOPE

It will apply to all Post Office (or associated employer) employees with the exception of casual or temporary contract staff, with less than 12 months service, from 1st April 2000 where consideration is being given for:

· Alternative or adjusted duties in the Post Office for an employee due to ill health

· Termination of an employees trial for ill health grounds

· Ill Health Retirement

DEFINITIONS OF ILL HEALTH RETIREMENT

“Retirement on ill health grounds with immediate pension” means the cessation of employment as a result of serious physical or mental ill health (not simply a decline in energy or ability) such that, in the opinion of the Post Office or associated employer (whichever is the employer), the member is permanently incapable of:

i) carrying out his current duties;

ii) carrying out such other duties for the employer as the employer might reasonably expect the member to perform, and

iii) engaging in employment with any other employer of a type which, in the opinion of his present employer, would be reasonable and appropriate for the member.

“Retirement on ill health grounds with lump sum payment” means the cessation of employment as a result of serious physical or mental ill health (not simply a decline in energy or ability) such that, in the opinion of the Post Office or associated employer (whichever is the employer), the employee is, for the foreseeable future, incapable of:

a) carrying out his current duties;

b) carrying out such other duties for the employer as the employer might reasonably expect the employee to perform

MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING

The following is an agreed understanding between the Post Office and the Unions on the interpretation of the Ill Health Retirement Definitions contained in Paragraph 4.

Where, through ill health, an individual is unable to perform their normal duties then the Post Office and Trade Unions agree that suitability and reasonableness will be the prime factors in identifying appropriate alternative duties that the employer might expect the individual to undertake. This will enable the Post Office to effectively discharge its obligations under legislation including the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Employment Rights Act 1996.

When assessing suitability and reasonableness, the factors that could be taken into consideration includes: job content, skill & aptitude, the person’s current status, current pay and future earnings opportunity, hours of work, location and travel arrangements, personal commitments & circumstances, age etc.

Permanent incapacity shall mean until retirement age or for at least 10 years from the date of medical opinion, whichever is the sooner.

Foreseeable future shall mean a period of at least 9 months from the date of medical opinion.

Due consideration would also be given to the degree of training required to enable the individual to undertake alternative work, with full support made available to those individuals able to demonstrate the necessary aptitude for acquiring those new skills.

The legal services Department will only become involved once a final decision has been made in line with the Ill Health Retirement Procedure. In the event a member wishes to appeal against any such decision, request for assistance must be made using form LS14.

RIGHT OF APPEAL

i) There will be a right of appeal against the decision and where the employee wishes to appeal he/she should inform the manager and confirm this in writing within five days of the written notification of the decision. At the same time the individual should state whether they will be seeking the support of their Union and confirmation from the Union of their support must be provided within a further seven working days.

ii) The appeal, which must be supported by appropriate medical evidence, must be made before the day on which any notice to terminate the employee’s contract of employment is due to expire, or within 12 weeks from the date on which notice of termination of contract was given, whichever is later.

APPEAL PROCESS

An appeal AGAINST retirement of an employee on Ill Health Grounds must be supported by a full report on the employee’s medical condition from a registered medical practitioner to the effect that the appellant is fit to perform their normal, adjusted or alternative work and can be expected within the foreseeable future to give regular and efficient service.

Appeals FOR retirement on Ill Health Grounds must be similarly supported by medical evidence to the effect that the employee is, for the foreseeable future or permanently unfit to discharge their normal, adjusted or suitable alternative work.

The outcome of the appeal based on this additional medical evidence would be further EHS advice to Line management, that the appellant is:

a) Able to return to normal or adjusted duties

b) Able to undertake suitable alternative work in the Post Office

c) Unable to work on alternative duties within the Post Office for the foreseeable future and is therefore recommended for Ill Health Retirement with a Lump Sum payment.

d) Permanently incapable of undertaking work in accordance with the definition and therefore eligible for Ill Health Retirement with immediate pension.

e) In the event that the appeal is dismissed, the appropriate Line Manager will inform the individual of the reasons for the conclusion. Where requested the EHS will inform the appellant’s medical adviser or, if appropriate, the medical adviser to the Union that acted on the appellant’s behalf.

APPEAL TO A MEDICAL BOARD

An appellant whose appeal for or against retirement on Ill Health grounds has been disallowed on the basis of the medical evidence provided can request that the case be referred to an independent medical board. The appellant must notify their intention in writing, either personally or through their Union, within 7 days of the date on which they were formally notified that their original appeal was unsuccessful.

The medical board will be organised by the EHS and will comprise two Medical Specialists from outside of the Post Office. One will be a Specialist in Occupational Health, and the other a Specialist in the particular ill health condition of the appellant.

The employee will normally attend this board in person and will be given a minimum of 48 hours notice of the date and venue. There may be a need for the individual to have a medical examination during the course of the appeal. Travel and subsistence expenses for attending the Medical Board will be met by the Post Office.

The outcome from the Medical Board will be advised to line management in accordance with the possible outcomes contained in Para 9.1 of the Agreement.

At the conclusion of the appeal the appellant will be formally notified of the decision within 5 days.

No further appeal in respect of ill health retirement will be allowed unless from a new referral.

SUCCESSFUL APPEALS AGAINST ILL HEALTH RETIREMENT

Where an appeal against ill health retirement on medical grounds is upheld, the notice of retirement will be withdrawn and the appellant will continue to be employed under the terms of their existing contract.

Where the contract of employment has already expired, the appellant will be offered reinstatement in his former grade and treated in all respects as if they had never been retired. If however the appellant does not return to duty on the date stipulated in the offer of reinstatement and can give no acceptable reason for their absence, the offer will be withdrawn and the Post Office will regard that it has discharged all of its obligations.

SUCCESSFUL APPEALS FOR ILL HEALTH RETIREMENT

Where an employee’s appeal succeeds and the individual is under notice of retirement or has already been retired without immediate pension, arrangements will be made to vary the terms of his notice accordingly.

In June 1999 negotiations commenced against the background of a review by the Post Office of procedures relating to ill health retirement. The Post Office advised the Union that they were intending to revise the procedures and a series of lengthy and complex discussions took place.

The Union’s principles aim in the negotiations was to ensure that those individuals able to continue in employment with the Post Office had the opportunity to do so while those who are either unable to work permanently or who could not work for the foreseeable future receive suitable payments to assist them. The last category dealt with the long running issue of around 250 of our members who have been dismissed each year under the unagreed “Phillips Procedures or Medical Severance” i.e. with nothing more than pay in lieu of notice.

To conclude an agreement that incorporated all of these objectives it was necessary to revise the earliest definitions for ill health retirement and this has led to it being an extremely complex series of negotiations with the definitions being revised continually over a period of six months until we were at last sure they met our aims.

trupa@cwu.org

Tony Rupa
Head of Legal Services

To contact the department: legal@cwu.org