Join us at Workfest for expert advice on kickstarting your career x

To have a grumble about my employee

(36 Posts)
InventedThePostItNote Thu 14-Nov-13 20:56:27

I'll keep this as vague as possible, but I am a small business owner and employ a personal assistant 4 days a week She is generally good, but she seems to get sick quite a lot (as in, 2-3 times a month at least- migraine, back pain, exhaustion due to insomnia, heartburn - always something different and usually not a 'visible' condition). She doesn't call in sick, but rather drags herself in with a grimace and does the whole martyred, sick voice thing all day long. I've suggested, many times, that she goes home, take a walk, go for a lie down etc but she always steadfastly refuses, but at the same time manages to make me feel like a horrible slavedriver! I think she gets some sort of perverse pleasure from it...does that make sense? Like I owe her or something.

It's not affecting her performance and she's rarely actually off sick, but I'm fed up of somehow feeling like I'm forcing her to be at work against her will. Don't really know how to approach it either.

She's good at what she does and I do think I'd struggle to find someone quite as efficient and knowledgeable as she is, but my stomach just sinks when I ask how she is, and she says 'well...I'm ok...but...'

InventedThePostItNote Thu 14-Nov-13 23:28:13

I worry if I tell her to just take time off in future, then she will be off A LOT. I think she's exaggerating the extent of her illnesses (perhaps not a coincidence that it's never a cold or a sprained ankle or, I don't know, conjunctivitis, but always things you can't actually see and assess). Although my gut feeling is she would have done this already if she really wanted to.

HeeHiles Thu 14-Nov-13 23:31:56

Drop in to the conversation how you 'met a friend's PA yesterday she was so healthy and enthusiastic - like a breath of fresh air!' Oh and smile

MoldieOldNaiceHam Thu 14-Nov-13 23:38:02

Adopt the same annoying sick voice when she does. Then see how long she keeps it up <<juvenile or genius idea>>

MrTumblesKnickers Thu 14-Nov-13 23:46:18

I agree with Westmorland, tell her that you're concerned she's not up to the stress of the job as she is sick so often and can you work together to come up with a solution - fewer hours etc??

I have a friend like this, it's almost funny but I don't see her as much as you see your employee. Her husband confided in me once and said that she has had every illness under the sun - including one mysterious time when she contracted blindness for a few hours.

Mimishimi Fri 15-Nov-13 01:47:09

Don't ask how she is, problem solved.

paxtecum Fri 15-Nov-13 06:42:24

YABU. You don't like her saying she feels unwell, but she does a good job even when she feels unwell.

If she took time off sick every week you would have something to moan about.
If this woman was registered disabled the replies would be different.

Some people do have niggly health conditions and continue working through it all.
It's your problem that you feel like a slave driver.

paxtecum Fri 15-Nov-13 06:43:17

Mr Tumble: maybe the blindness was a migraine.

Trifle Fri 15-Nov-13 07:58:22

I would be inclined to get rid of her. She's probably far more draining than you realise.

Bumblebee333 Fri 15-Nov-13 09:12:52

I would suggest going to the drs and having some general blood tests because there may be an underlying issue. Say it because you care and you want her to feel better.

I used to feel unwell a lot and if there was an illness going round I would get it. So I did as suggested above and it turned out I was slightly anaemic. I started taking vitamins c and iron tablets and adjusted my diet to include more iron and I feel great. In the past 6 months I have had a slight cold.

HauntedFlyingNaanBread Fri 15-Nov-13 09:46:49

Ultimately you either need to have a conversation with her, or ignore it and suck it up.

If you choose to have the conversation, then I would suggest bringing it up at her next 1-2-1 - assuming you do these periodically. Something along the lines of "I am concerned that you have had a few periods of illness recently <name dates and illnesses at this point>. Your work attendance is great but obviously I want to ensure that you are fit to work; is there anything we need to review or do to try and support you?" That way it puts the ball in her court.

Unfortunately some people are more prone to being ill than others and as long as you are satisfied that she is genuinely unwell, then you'll need to live with it - she is still coming in to work after all. You need to weigh up how effective she is in her job - if she is good and gets it done, then living with the attitude might be a worthwhile trade off. However if her performance isn't great and the attitude is on display to clients, or causing a problem for other colleagues, then you might need to look at a formal performance management programme.

Above all, you need to make sure that you comply with the law - managing ill health issues can be a minefield. If you have legal expenses insurance (as an employer) then check your policy to see if there is a legal advice helpline - these are usually free to call and can offer advice on employment related matters and what your legal position is.

InventedThePostItNote Fri 15-Nov-13 11:07:02

Thank you haunted above advice is great.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now