DWP Sacks Disability Benefits Worker With Terminal Cancer- For Taking Too Much Sick Leave
A woman claims she was sacked from her job at a disability benefits centre for taking too much time off – while receiving treatment for incurable cancer.
Pauline Fisher, 65, found out days before Christmas that Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) bosses had rejected an appeal against a decision to sack her.
She had been signed off sick since June from the job she’s held for the past decade.
Pauline, who has been diagnosed with an incurable cancer , was adamant she would be fit again to work following her chemotherapy treatment.
But management at the Warbreck House office in Blackpool, Lancs., said they had made efforts to make suitable arrangements for her to come back and wrote to her saying she had “failed to maintain an acceptable level of attendance”.
Pauline says she qualified for full sick pay for the six months after she was signed off by a doctor in August, having first been sent home in June.
The same month she was diagnosed with clear cell renal carcinoma – a rare cancer – in her left kidney. The disease has since spread to her lungs and liver.
She began chemotherapy in August to prolong her life, but has been largely confined to a wheelchair since then.
On November 5 she was notified that she had been sacked from her job despite her sick note running up until the end of this month.
Pauline, who took partial retirement in March 2014 dropping her hours to work just four days a week, said: “When they dismissed me on November 5, they gave me 10 weeks’ notice pay – normally you get compensation but because I’m of retirement age I’m not entitled to that.
”I would have loved to have gone back to work. It’s a nice place to work. I would have just cut my hours down a bit.
”I’m not doing this for any money. I’m doing it because I’m so angry and want them to take it on board so they don’t treat anybody else the same.
”I’m so angry. From the neck up I’m absolutely fine – it’s the rest of me that’s rotten.”
In the letter dated November 2, she was told: “You have now been absent from work due to your illness since June 19, 2015.
“You are currently being cared for by your daughter due to your fatigue and dizzy spells.
“Since taking your medication you have seen little improvement in your ability to care for yourself.”
The letter also said Pauline told management at a meeting in October that she was “still unfit for work”.
It added: “Although you aspire to return to work as soon as possible, it is clear from the information provided there is no clear indication that you will be able to return to work in the foreseeable future due to ongoing care and medical treatment.”
Bosses also said she had received “substantial support” to boost her attendance.
It concludes: “Your employment with DWP must be terminated because you have failed to maintain an acceptable level of attendance and are unable to return to work within a timetable that I consider reasonable.”
Her daughter, Jodie Fisher, 26, who cares for her mum at their home in Mereside, near Blackpool, said: “lt’s disgusting, after 10 years of service to them.
“It’s not as if she’s got a migraine – she’s dying. I am fuming, so angry it’s unbelievable.
“They can’t operate on the kidney itself. She wouldn’t make it off the operating table.
“The are just giving her chemotherapy to prolong her life.”
The family say on December 23 they were told they weren’t unable to appeal the decision as they didn’t have enough information.
A DWP spokesman said: “We do all we can to support an employee’s return to work, including offering part-time, flexible hours or a different role.
”If someone tells us they won’t be able to return to work for the foreseeable future, we do need to make plans to ensure we can continue to deliver government services.”