Sick Lines and Pay

Nine weeks have now passed since I had open heart surgery and the company I work for have dropped me to half pay. In a further two weeks I lose all my pay.

I’m not the only one. Talking to others who have gone through or are going through cardiac operations it’s a common story with other companies, work interrupts rehabilitation and some people have to make a difficult choice.

For me I’ve been signed off work until the nineteenth of January, that’s fourteen weeks after having had open heart surgery, having been on heart and lung bypass, having part of my heart removed and a new piece sewn in.

Currently I’m on nine weeks post-surgery and I’m managing walks of up to two and a half kilometres. That’s not far when I used to cycle twelve kilometres Monday to Thursday, run the same on a Friday and then throw in a ten kilometre trail run over the weekend. Now I’ve just made a three and a half kilometre walk, I’ve been doing one and a half on average, and I’m absolutely shattered.

I’m trying to keep active and do some of my own work during the day, but my concentration is poor. I struggle to complete three hours and that’s not solid back to back either, my mind and attention wander constantly.

Week eight I was put on half pay and four weeks after that I’ll be on no pay. There’s a company policy to follow and with me only having been working there just over a year that’s all the paid sick leave I receive.

That basically leaves me with no pay in January, while I’m still signed off. It also means I’m now under pressure to go back to work when the current sick line runs out, even if the rehabilitation team and/or my doctor say I should stay off longer and add more time to my recovery.

It’s a difficult situation because I understand that there are rules for companies and they can’t just keep paying out salaries to those on long term sick leave, especially when the employees are relatively new to join their company, but what if the employee just can’t come back to work?

Well I’ve heard a number of different stories of how other people are dealing with work and their illness and they are varied. A self-employed person who has no choice, someone who had to choose between going back to work and earning money or attending their rehabilitation sessions, and someone who has multiple problems which can’t be remedied and can’t get back into work no matter how hard they try.

It’s a terrible situation and while you might understand the difficulty of a company to decide how long to pay their employees on sick leave, you can’t understand why someone isn’t given the chance to work, someone who wants to work and needs to work.

My mind is pretty made up already, I have to go back to work when this current sick line has run out no matter what the doctors or rehabilitation nurses say. Twenty days without pay after so long on half pay is rather scary, and scarier if there’s a recommendation to be off for another month or two.

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