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Thursday 25 April 2019

On your case: Returning to work after a major accident

By Kay Hender
After a “potentially life-ending accident” led to difficulties at work, a Keystone member explains to Kay Hender how his union helped, with “a cool head and an excellent grasp of the situation”.

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Despite being a relatively new addition to both Keystone and the civil service itself, a member called on his union for help following his “involvement in a major not-at-fault road traffic accident whilst on detached duty”, and the “difficult and complex situation” that arose as a result.

The member felt his department dealt with his situation in an “accusatorial, combative… and ultimately confusing manner”, so sought Keystone’s assistance as a “fair, reasonable and neutral outside party”.

While he acknowledged that his manager “could and would” have represented him, the member recognised that calling on his trade union representative “forced the organisation to take the case seriously”, while also providing “a well-needed sanity-check for [his] own interpretation of the situation”.

Keystone caseworker Sue Hollywood-Powell represented the member throughout the 14-month process. As he was already having to cope with the physical and mental strains of the situation, the member felt Sue’s ongoing contact and support was “crucial to being able to deal with the various stresses involved”.

While representing the member at a formal face-to-face meeting with his organisation, Sue gave him “confidence that [he] was not going to be ambushed or railroaded into a potentially very negative situation. With a cool head and excellent grasp of the situation, Sue explained [his] case as an independent mediator. [She] secured the agreement of my organisation to resolve the situation in my favour and overhaul the policy documentation in return for a minor concession”.

While the Keystone member was initially reluctant to make this concession, Sue’s “well-reasoned argument” saw the negotiated settlement agreed by both parties. The member concedes that this “saved [him] from having to argue and potentially damage the case if [he] had let pride and emotion overrule good judgement”.

Both the member and his manager commended Sue for her “superb performance and the ease of which she grasped the fundamentals of the organisation’s operations and policies.

“I heartily thank Sue for all of her help and support, and personally recommend Keystone to any SEO and HEOs who are looking for a union that understand the pressures that we face and the ways in which we have to work during these difficult times. Just remember, you never know when you may suddenly need the support or protection of a professional and effective union representative like Sue.”


Kay Hender is the FDA Communications Manager and Editor of Public Service Magazine
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