Depression and work

(5 Posts)
Hobbss Sat 16-Mar-13 22:26:35

Have name changed as worried this may be quite identifying. Sorry for the length, but I don't want to drip feed...

I've worked for my employer (large multi-national company) for over 6 years in a sales role. I'm successful and well respected, have always performed well, exceeded targets and have prob had about 3 instances of sickness in the whole 6 years.

Late last year, after a long time suffering silently, I finally went to my docs and was diagnosed with depression and put on antidepressants. At the time, I thought it best to let my manager know as we work in a small team and it was clear I was unhappy, I was struggling to do my work to my previous high standard and I was worried I wasn't coping too well. I emailed her to advise and said that although my doctor had offered to sign me off, I didn't think that sitting at home would make me feel any better. I said I didn't want any special treatment but wanted to let her know about my depression and to explain it wasn't the job but personal issues that I was working through.

So for a few weeks, things ticked along and the drugs seemed to be working and I was starting to feel like there might be light at the end of the tunnel.
Then the shit hit the fan...

Out of the blue, at the end of the working day on a Friday, about half an hour before I was due to go home, I was informed that I was to be suspended in full pay pending a disciplinary investigation hearing on the Monday at our head office which is 2 hrs away by train.
They took my entry pass and told me not to contact another staff or enter company premises. They wouldn't tell me what I as supposed to have done just that I had to report to head office after the weekend.
So, I spent the weekend crying and drinking and sobbing and panicking. I feel like I had a nervous breakdown, I really do.

I don't know how, but I got up there on the train, crying the whole way and went to the meeting, I won't go into details, but in my opinion the offence was something that an informal word from my immediate manager would have sufficed. I have never been in trouble before and the offence was ambiguous, I had received no warning for it before.
Ultimately, they gave me a warning and told me they wanted 'to draw a line under it all' and get back to normal. They told me they considered it gross misconduct because I earn commission, so therefore anything I do that's wrong can be classed as this because I profit from it. I can't go into more details but it is ridiculous and they were incredibly heavy handed for something relatively minor.

I just wasn't in the right place to deal with this level of stress, so the next day I went to my docs and she signed me off for a month. I went to stay with my parents who live an hour or so away and they looked after me as I live alone and I was scared what might happen if I didn't have anyone around.

I took the month off, and decided I was ready to return to work, and I've been back a few weeks but I've lost all confidence in my job, I can't concentrate and I keep bursting into tears in front of colleagues, clients and senior managers. It's so embarrassing. I feel broken and lost.

The only thing I feel clear abut is that I feel my employer acted wrongly in coming down on someone so hard who had already disclosed to them that they were suffering from depression.
I've gone from a top seller to a shell of a person, I'm making no bonus and I don't trust them to not do something to me again. How can I trust they won't find something else to charge me with?

I feel so alone and hurt, I want to make sure nothing like this happens to me again.

I'm not sure what I want but I wondered if any HR people may know if this was handled fairly, bearing in mind I had told them I was already struggling at work? Did they handle this correctly?

Sorry again it's so long

WannaBeANinja Sun 17-Mar-13 00:55:39

ring acas- I think that's what they're called.

sorry thungs have been shit for you.
id you have lost confidence in your employers could you leave? I don't think that I would continue working there. But Definatley speak to someone who knows about things like this.

Good luck

twinklytoes Sun 17-Mar-13 08:04:04

second phoning ACAS.

It's not reasonable to suspend you on a friday and ask you to attend a disciplinary investigation meeting on a monday. You need to be given reasonable notice to employ a union rep or colleague to support you.

Also, I wonder where occupational health were? I would expect your manager to refer you given you disclosed your situation and stated you are struggling at work.

good luck.

LifeHope11 Sun 17-Mar-13 11:31:25

So sorry you are going through this. You need someone advising you & fighting your corner. I agree that contacting ACAS is a good idea, there is lots of useful info on their website including codes of practice for disciplinary procedures & how they should be followed. In case you are a member of a union then contact them.

Does your company have its own disciplinary procs and were they followed correctly? They should broadly conform to the ACAS code of practice.

When they advised you on Friday that you were to attend the meeting on the Monday, did they really refer to it as a 'disciplinary investigation' hearing? If so it seems inappropriate. An investigation meeting is purely to investigate the circumstances of an incident, to decide what if any action is appropriate. Disciplinary proceedings may arise out of the investigation. So they areentirely separate things.

As twinklytoes pointed out you have certain rights and should have been given reasonable time to arrange and prepare for the hearing. You should also have been given the opportunity to appeal the decision.

Hobbss Sun 17-Mar-13 18:25:26

Thank you. I will call ACAS on my next day off

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