I can only wonder at what goes through the minds of some people when they decide to take legal action against their employers. A couple of recent cases in particular got under my skin.
First, a woman decides to have a baby, and is then off sick for almost all of her pregnancy. Being a public sector employee, she receives full pay for around six months, then half pay for another six months. During her actual maternity leave, she is back on full pay. When she is still unfit for work at the end of the maternity leave, her sick pay is reduced to half pay. She claimed this was unfair treatment due to pregnancy, and wanted to have her full pay reinstated.
Thankfully, her claim, which went all the way to the European Court, failed.
Another recent case involved an employee who suffered from clinical depression. Over a four-year period, she had 365 days of sickness absence. She too was paid sick pay for 12 months under a generous public sector scheme. Yet she brought a claim, under the disability discrimination laws, to make her employer put her back on full pay, as she claimed that to reduce her pay in this way amounted to discrimination.
Thank goodness the courts saw sense here as well, as the claim failed. Had she won, her employer would never have been able to reduce her sick pay if this was down to disability-related absence, which would have amounted to full pay for life – at the taxpayers’ expense.
On the subject of stress claims, why is it that so many people allegedly suffering from stress, depression, anxiety and the like seem intent on embarking on highly stressful litigation? Have they not had enough stress for a while? Don’t start me on that one.