Unwell or disabled? Don’t just leave!

handsSometimes workers who have become  seriously ill or disabled are tempted to resign or retire, however you should not do this before talking to your Unison rep: as recent two cases in CSF show where members nearly missed out on tens of thousands of pounds of benefits, as John Shepherd explains.

In 2015 two members contacted me for advice about leaving. One had a query about retirement which had been agreed and the other a query about resignation and notice periods.

Exploring the reasons for why they were leaving, I discovered that both felt they had to go due to their poor health.

I therefore advised one member to withdraw their retirement request, and the other not to resign. Instead I advised both to seek referrals to occupational health (OH).

In some cases we can help members get reasonable adjustments agreed to change their duties or move into different job roles so disabled or ill staff can remain at work. In these cases this was unfortunately not possible, however with support from Unison both of these members were recommended by OH for ill-health early retirement on the highest tier.

Depending on age, ill-health early retirement pays out a pension on an enhanced basis compared with normal retirement. So in both of these cases the members ended up tens of thousands of pounds better off.

So if you feel you cannot continue in your current job because of your health, don’t despair, discuss it with your union rep first as you may have other options.

These cases also demonstrate the importance of being part of the pension scheme. Only members of the LGPS can qualify for ill-health early retirement, so if you have opted out it is worth considering opting back in, because you never know what the future will hold.

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