Unlike the things that normally make me angry, this particular episode was because of something that happened to me.
I had my formal interview for my sickness record. Five periods of sickness in the last twelve months has led to this, for I am only 'allowed'
- Three periods of absence in a rolling twelve month period.
- or, two periods of absence resulting in eight or more days being lost, in a rolling twelve month period.
I noticed that I was getting on to breaching this rule so I asked for counselling a to how to improve my sickness (as obviously I must be doing something wrong to be breaching such reasonable guidelines) – I'm still waiting to get such counselling.
I'm also waiting for an occupational health appointment for my foot injury which was aggravated by slipping on some oil at work.
I found myself sitting across the table from two members of my local management team (neither of whom know me) and some Human Resources person in a suit. I'm just in time having done our Control a favour by taking a transfer from one hospital to another.
I asked why the sickness policy is the same for those of us out on the road as for those who sit in an office from 9-5 Monday to Friday. There was a mumbled 'we are looking into it'.
I do rotating shift work – there is plenty of research that points to this having an effect on your immune system as well as making you much more likely to get various cancers (mostly breast, prostate and colon) and increasing your chance of heart disease. I also have the pleasure of sitting in the back of the ambulance with infectious patients who insist on coughing, sneezing, spluttering and sneezing all over me.
“Eat well and do some exercise” was the advice I was given.
I accept what they said, that my absences are more than those of my peers, although if I were a little quicker witted I may have asked by how much. If I were really thinking I would have asked if I fell outside the standard deviation of my peer set, and if so, by how much. Or I could start wittering on about p-values, and is my sickness really that unusual?
If only I weren't the embodiment of esprit d’escalier. Instead I left the room waving goodbye when they have led me up to the hangman's platform.
If I have one period of sickness in the next eight months then I'm up before people several pay-scales above me for a Capability Hearing – am I capable to continue working in the service.
This came as a bit of a shock considering that the local management team have repeatedly missed meeting with me to discuss my absence despite their own policy.
I asked what would happen if I had a case of rampant diarrhoea, should I shove a cork up my backside? I was told that they would 'look into it'.
They did at least have the humanity to tell me that if I were sick because someone assaulted me then it wouldn't count.
The next time I'm at the hospital I'm going to get some of their adult nappies – so that should I have diarrhoea I can still work. I look forward to coming to work with 'flu, being sicker than my patients and giving it to them for a change. I just hope I don't come across any patient with a compromised immune system.
I look forward to coming into work and showing my manager a sample of my stool in order to prove that I do have diarrhoea – it may even still be in the uniform I was wearing at the time.
It does make e angry – that I work hard when I'm on duty, I offer up to help out Control, I put myself in front of violent, infectious patients. I wreck my health and social life with shift work for very little reward. I don't get complaints made against me and I don't consider myself a person who 'rocks the boat'. And yet, because my sickness is higher than those who work in an office I'm threatened with the sack.
If I were paranoid I'd say that they are trying to get rid of me.
It makes me…
…ah…but that's a post for another day.