Have you been called to an interview with a manager?

Advice for members

1. Return to work interviews
These should be held after each occasion you are absent from work, irrespective of the reason, and are normally conducted by your line manager. This allows the ambulance service to more effectively manage absence levels but more importantly, ensure you are given any support necessary. This latter point is often forgotten and RTW interviews can sometimes be conducted in an inappropriate manner and take on the feel of a counselling session or disciplinary hearing – which they are not! Remember, these interviews are as much for your benefit as for the ambulance service, so if there is something which the service can do to help you (not just improve your attendance at work) be sure to ask your manager in the return to work interview.
Another important point to remember is that you are entitled to trade union representation for RTW interviews. They are formal meetings and as such, you are legally entitled to ask to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague. Your UNISON representative will ensure that the RTW interview is conducted in the appropriate manner and work with you and your line manager to provide any relevant support which you may need at the time. So if you are not comfortable having a RTW interview on your own – do not go into the interview without representation! You are entitled to it - so ask for it.
On a related subject, when you phone in absent from work you are not required to discuss/reveal the reason for your absence to anybody except your line manager and/or the Human Resources department. The Scheduling department, Telemedicine desk in EOC Staffs or Logistics should not be asking personal questions relating to your health or personal circumstances. So if asked, and you are not comfortable discussing it, you should politely decline to give the reason for your absence and simply notify Scheduling, Telemed or Logistics when you are expected to be back at work (or if a sick note will be submitted, covering your absence from work).
2. Counselling sessions
A lot is currently being made about the difference between ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ counselling sessions but in effect, there is no difference between them. Both are ‘formal’ meetings and as always with these, you have a legal right to be accompanied by a UNISON representative.
One important distinction to make, however, is that counselling sessions are NOT disciplinary hearings and at no time during this process should you be issued with any kind of ‘warning’. You may be advised that any re-ocurrence / continuation of something may lead to disciplinary action, but counselling sessions are exactly as they sound – an attempt by your employer to address something without having to revert to disciplinary action.
Another issue which has come to light with counselling sessions, concerns the signing of any documentation drawn up during these meetings. You have no legal obligation to sign any such documentation and until the ambulance service is clearer about the purpose of counselling sessions and the difference between formal and informal, it is advisable NOT to sign anything during a counselling session. Again, your UNISON representative should ensure you have the relevant advice and support with this.
3. Disciplinary hearings
These are a very distinct part of the employment relationship and you should always seek advice from UNISON before getting involved with any part of the process – and that includes fact-find or investigatory meetings.

Should you require further assistance, please contact us.
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