Branch Secretary :

St Mungos: One workers experience of its sickness policy

Serious equalities questions


A draconian approach to sickness is one of the issues involved in the dispute at the homelessness charity St Mungo’s. The organisations HR department repeatedly unite managers, union reps and staff in horror at their malevolent approach.


Below, a St Mungo’s staff member explains an experience which raises serious questions about the organisations approach to equalities. Unite reps continue to support this St Mungos staff member.





Many other cases raise concerns about St Mungo's approach to equalities; see for example this tribunal finding on the victimisation of a women worker at St Mungos who was victimised after raising questions about equal pay.



Honest about disabilities


I have worked for St. Mungo’s for several years.  Before I applied, at interview and at my Occupational Health meeting prior to starting I was extremely honest about my disabilities and the fact that they occur regularly, and each requires me to have a couple of days off after treatment.


I was told by and my line and service manager that this should be counted a “sickness for treatment of my disability” and not counted against normal sick leave. Although in my probationary period they would work the rota’s around my treatments (I was on shift work at the time).



Previous role


At the end of the six-month probationary period my manager told me that she didn’t think it fair that I should effectively lose all the weekends in the months I had treatments. She though it should be counted as sickness due to disability (and counted separately). This had happened in my previous role with another charity.


HR decision

Nine months later I got an email from my manager telling me that HR had decided that I needed to work back all the hours I had already taken for my treatments, this represented a considerable time. The also referred to my treatments as minor despite them being essential for me to be able to walk or carry things.



When I objected, I was told the only thing I do was bring a grievance procedure (which was partially upheld by the two managers who heard it). I thought that this was the end of the matter until three months later HR came back explaining they had never made such an agreement before and therefore I still needed to work the time back.



I still work for St Mungo’s and this issue has still not been resolved to anything like my satisfaction. I am still using my TOIL to cover half the treatments. I’d like to stress my line managers have always been entirely on my side about this issue but each time I’ve challenged it I’ve been told my only choices are to take the time out of my holiday entitlement (leaving 5 days, or as unpaid leave (financially nonviable) but if I use sickness I would inevitably  be sacked as this would trigger all of the sickness benchmarks in the sickness policy.



Work extremely hard

I work extremely hard for my team and scored highly on my appraisal. I find it very difficult to understand how a company which is always very pleased about being an equal opportunity employer continues to discriminate against someone who is fully covered by the Equalities Act.


March 4th 2020


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