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Has anyone got any experience of being off work sick and going back

(12 Posts)
Notsurewhatsgoingon Mon 17-Aug-20 14:17:28

Hi all,

Feel like all I post is doom and gloom but on here is the only place I can get advice.

I was off work sick for 2 weeks due to severe stress. I work in a notoriously stressful job. I had other things going on at home due to my own family issues and I hit a wall and became quite ill.

After the 2 weeks I then went on annual leave for 3 weeks which I had booked last year.

I let my manager know that I was going to be off sick for 2 weeks at the end of one of my working days (I am part time) and she just said OK in response and didn't ask why??

I have returned from my annual leave last week to a shit show. I only came back because I was scared to lose my job and I can't afford to go on sick pay right now. No one from work has been in touch during my time off or since. I just basically picked up where I left off 5 weeks ago and my work has been left to pile up and is all out of deadlines. I now have more work on top of that as more keeps coming. My supervisors only contacted me to pile more work on and give tasks upon tasks. I am supposed to have monthly meetings with my supervisor as part of my job but these have been non existant for months. I email to request and have even phoned her but to no avail.

I sit at my desk overwhelmed and close to tears. I am supposed to work 8.30-5 but have worked till 8 or 9 most nights and that's not just at home, that's in the community. I don't get paid overtime so have accrued a ridiculous amount of toil I will never be able to take back. Its not just me as my colleagues who I have reached out to are hitting breaking point too and are all working well over their hours (even full time staff).

No one from work has asked about the sickness or why I was off or what they can do to ease me back in.

Its actually worse since I came back as my workload is crazy, I'd need to work 23 hours a day to make a dent.
I manage my own diary but have to get the work done it's as simple as that, it often means I am out in the community late into the evening and no one (except my husband who knows I'm out but not where) knows where I am, if anything happens to me no one would know and it feels unsafe.

I don't know how to carry on like this or if work should have supported me with being off sick? Is that usually the case?

I can't leave this job because I am not qualified in anything else and would have to take a huge pay cut which we can't afford with childcare etc..

Please can someone advise how I make all this more managable when my supervisor and manger barely acknowledge me and just keep piling on more work?
How do I avoid a second round of burnout and what can I ask work to do to help?

Thanks

OP’s posts: |
GisAFag Mon 17-Aug-20 20:06:23

I'd find another job. I wouldn't work anywhere that stressed me out to a point where i dreaded the job. Normally I'd have left and done agency work but no idea what's around. Schools always looking for teaching assistants. Thats what I do now 3 months of a year, set hours.. Bloody brilliant. After years as a manager in the civil service. Best thing i ever did

Bunnybigears Mon 17-Aug-20 20:10:01

You should have had a return to work interview, especially as your reason for absence was stress. Speak to HR.

vanillandhoney Mon 17-Aug-20 20:15:02

I've had a similar experience.

I was off for about six weeks with work-related stress and anxiety. I went to the GP and was put on medication and sleeping tablets because of how bad it was.

I'm afraid I only lasted about three weeks before I handed in my notice - I got a sick note to cover my notice period of a month and never went back. My manager never got in touch after that. I've heard nothing from anyone I worked with since. Just shows how dispensable you are, really. I worked so much overtime and put so much effort and work into that job - never again! It's not worth it. No job is.

I now run my own totally unrelated business and I absolutely LOVE it. I work about 16 hours a week and make the same money I did when I was working full-time. My work/life balance is incredible and I'm so much happier.

I would get yourself signed off sick again and take some time out to get better. My GP was really understanding and more than happy to sign me off for a while. No job is worth your mental health.

1990s Mon 17-Aug-20 21:53:42

Vanilla can I ask what area your business you do part time and will gives you enough to live on is?

vanillandhoney Mon 17-Aug-20 22:18:52

1990s

Vanilla can I ask what area your business you do part time and will gives you enough to live on is?


Of course!

I do dog walking and pet care - I earn about £17 an hour on average.

1990s Mon 24-Aug-20 20:35:49

Thanks Vanilla - that sounds interesting!

lilyboleyn Mon 24-Aug-20 20:53:10

@Notsurewhatsgoingon are you in a union? Do you have home legal cover?

Your employer has a duty of care to you, and in not holding a return to work meeting, or a risk assessment, they are being negligent. This could be a case of constructive dismissal or discrimination in the workplace. Call ACAS or your union or legal cover people and get some hardcore advice rather than relying on some random on a message board, though.

This isn’t right and it’s not fair.

missanony Mon 24-Aug-20 20:58:28

They’re being awful.

Work your hours, record your time so you can prove that you completed tasks for your working hours then pass back any work to your manager that you cannot get done.

If your workload is too much, the backlog that gets created isn’t really your concern. Just make sure to email on a daily basis with the details of what you have done that day and what you’ve ran out of time for.

ChilliesAndSpice Tue 25-Aug-20 13:16:59

You need to speak to your manager and stop doing any extra work. Just do what you can do in your normal hours. They need to employ more staff if necessary, but this isn’t your concern.

If you can’t speak to your manager then go to your union for advice. Even if you’re not in the union you should be able to join and can help you.

You will end up very very ill with burnout if you carry on like this.

Moondust001 Tue 25-Aug-20 13:40:59

lilyboleyn

*@Notsurewhatsgoingon* are you in a union? Do you have home legal cover?

Your employer has a duty of care to you, and in not holding a return to work meeting, or a risk assessment, they are being negligent. This could be a case of constructive dismissal or discrimination in the workplace. Call ACAS or your union or legal cover people and get some hardcore advice rather than relying on some random on a message board, though.

This isn’t right and it’s not fair.

You are right - it isn't right and it isn't fair. Unfortunately many things that aren't right or fair are also legal, and there is not currently enough evidence to conclude that the employer is acting outside the law. There is no legal requirement to hold back to work meetings or risk assessments. There is definitely no evidence being presented at all that suggests constructive dismissal or discrimination.

Whilst I agree that this is awful management, awful management isn't unlawful. If it were, half the employers in the country would be in court. It would be good practice to ask why someone was going off sick for two weeks - in fact, to be honest, I'd be doing a hell of a lot more than asking why, I'd also want to know how they know they will be sick for two weeks in advance of being sick, and how come they know they will recover in time for their three weeks holiday. And that would just be for starters. There would be return to work interviews, OH assessments and more. To say nothing of a dmaned hard look at lone worker polices that are being breached. But employers don't have to do any of those things. Good practice and the law are not the same thing.

To be honest (and it's hard to call without knowing the type of employer and the type of work, although I am making a guess at it anyway), what the OP describes here is appalling and I can see absolutely no way back for this. The OP is expecting (and rightly too) a level of care and support that isn't there and is not likely to be there. If an employer needs telling this many things, then they aren't accidentally dropping a ball, they simply don't care. And that probably isn't even the managers to blame - the standard being described here suggests that the employer either doesn't care or actively encourages poor management culture. In which case there is only one option - find another job.

Despite the fact that it shouldn't be the case, there have been very few successful cases mounted on the grounds of workplace stress. It's a personal injury claim, not an employment law claim, and hard to prove injury or simple causation to legal standards. Unfortunately the "duty of care" things is largely a paper tiger - it has little meaning in situations such as these; and the waters often quickly become muddied by counter-arguments that workers are working excessive hours voluntarily (they don't have to) and that they can't cope with the workload due to their own failings. Even where you can construct a case, the effort required to do so may actually be as bad or worse than the cause.

I don't disagree with any of the advice about simply not working extra hours, handing back the work that can't be done in working hours etc. Now about putting it (preferably in writing) to your manager about the areas of concern. However, I have little faith that it will produce any real results, so I'd be looking for another job. Sorry.

Notsurewhatsgoingon Tue 25-Aug-20 15:55:56

@ChilliesAndSpice everything you said is right and this is why I keep my head down and get on with it and a dare not complain. This is a whole organisational culture issue and trickles down from the top. I'd be fighting a huge system which has been this way since time began and I'd lose. In an organisation like mine you put your head down do as your told or you are pushed out simple as that. And you better believe that they know the law inside and out.
My only real option is to leave and I can't do that right now as we can't afford it. Very very tough to deal with and get up everyday faced with that reality.

OP’s posts: |

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