Branch Secretary :

Catalyst housing staff submit grievance on harsh sickness policy

Harsh and possibly discriminatory


Over 200 staff at Catalyst Housing have submitted a grievance to the board of the association objecting to a harsh and possibly discriminatory new sickness absence policy which was introduced without consultation last year.   


The Chief Executive and HR departments have ignored an earlier letter from Unite as well as queries from Unite Reps.



We reported on anger at the new policy last year here when staff compared managements approach to the disgraced Sports Direct.


Written warnings when sickness signed off by doctor


Staff have been increasingly concerned at the implementation of the policy:

  • The thresholds for acceptable sickness are far too low
  • Some staff have been taking annual leave or feel forced to come in to work sick instead of a sick day so they don’t have to face disciplinary action
  • Managers are being forced to issue formal written warnings even when staff have an absence that has been signed off by a doctor
  • The disciplinaries Unite has been involved with have been disproportionately against women from a black & minority ethnic backgrounds, so the policy may be inherently discriminatory
  • Catalyst is not appropriately looking after employee’s health & safety by not consulting with staff and ignoring requests for information
  • The tone of the policy and letters is too harsh and seems to assume people have a choice about being ill


Unite engages positively with employers in the housing sector around absence management in a positive manner but this policy marks a new departure in taking an arbitrary and punitive approach to sickness to a new level. 


Housing associations wont solve their problems by bullying

Unite executive member and LE1111 branch secretary Suzanne Muna commented, "Housing associations won’t solve their problems by bullying their staff.  Catalyst should think again about its management style and withdraw its unreasonably harsh sickness policy.  Management should meet with Unite to negotiate a fair sick policy"


Unite has a growing membership and vibrant organisation in Catalyst although management refuse to formally recognise the union.



By A Catalyst worker  19 June 2018


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