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To feel upset over a nasty email from a colleague

(81 Posts)
charliexcy Fri 06-Jun-14 06:54:18

I have been off work since Wednesday with severe tonsillitis. Swollen tonsils, ulcers in my throat, can't speak, eat or drink very well and have a fever. I am on antibiotics now but still feel awful, particularly in the mornings as I wake up at 5am most days with the pain.

But I am the sort of person who hates being off work sick and will always try to come in. I tried to struggle in yesterday but ended up nearly in tears as swallowing pain relief was so agonising. I wanted to go back today because I hate letting my co workers down and I even phoned my boss saying that. But my boss told me to take Friday to fully recover and not to rush back.

The nature of the job is that I still have to work from home so I emailed some work in to the woman who is my line manager and got a response that made me feel quite upset. It was harsh in tone and was basically implying that things were not going well because of my absence and that I had caused a lot of problems by being ill.

Feeling quite down anyway due to the pain, I worried about this all evening. I sent an email back of a similar tone explaining that I didn't mean to cause inconvenience but I was ill. She has made me feel even worse and now the feelings of upset have turned to anger. I've felt guilty and anxious for not being there and have tried to make this easy for her by getting up at 6 every day to email her work from home. It's not like I've had loads of time off - perhaps 5 days spread throughout the year due to a cancer scare and treatment.

AIBU to feel upset about this? Not once has she even asked how I'm feeling and had ignored my emails prior to this one. In general, she is not a nice person and most of her emails are rude and condescending anyway, but she had no need to make me feel worse for being ill. Dreading checking my email now in case she's replied with something even worse.

KaFayOLay Fri 06-Jun-14 06:57:26

I'd be saving those for HR on my return.
She can't harrass you because you are off ill ans as a line manager, should know better.

Take it further!

itisntme Fri 06-Jun-14 06:59:46

You poor thing. Tonsillitus is horrendous. Try not to worry about it, do as little work as possible and get plenty of rest.
I think people who haven't had tonsillitus think of it as a "sore throat" and haven't a clue how ill it can make you.

ThinkIveBeenHacked Fri 06-Jun-14 07:00:59

Honestly if you are off ill (and you sound really poorly) then you need to turn off your laptop and grt into bed.

Ignore work, ignore the emails. No one got a medal for trying to soldier on.

look after yourself and think about work on monday morning.

TestingTestingWonTooFree Fri 06-Jun-14 07:04:34

I think 5 days off sick in 5.5 months is quite a lot (albeit that it's justified in your case). No reason for her to be rude though and I can see why you're upset. Sounds like you're bending over backwards to be accommodating.

Humansatnav Fri 06-Jun-14 07:05:32

I know a boss like this. Its unacceptable and against most companies Sickness policies. Get hard copies of the email and go over her head. Your an employee, not a piece of machinery. People get ill on occasion & if she cant cope with that concept she is a shit manager.( &I manage a team!)
Get well soon flowers

Theoldhag Fri 06-Jun-14 07:07:12

I second turning off lines of communication and getting into bed, rest is what you need not work.

As for the snarky emails, I would defiantly take them to hr, militant robots of bosses can go take a jump if they think it is acceptable to harras and bully employes.

OwlCapone Fri 06-Jun-14 07:07:38

TBH, it spends on what the email said and whether you read it in the same tone in which it was written. You say "implying" which suggests that it didn't directly say anything.

charliexcy Fri 06-Jun-14 07:12:16

Sorry I meant that the total sick leave was spread over the months since September as I work in education. I know that emails can be interpreted differently but I know her well and the whole tone of it was unpleasant and meant to make me feel bad iyswim.

EleanorHandbasket Fri 06-Jun-14 07:16:31


Getting up at 6 with tonsilitis and emailing in work would say to me that either you are a bloody martyr or not as ill as you are claiming.

Just go to bloody bed, switch off the laptop and ignore. Don't be a martyr. There is no job that can make you work when you are off sick, its illegal and you need to say no, I'm ill, see you on Monday.

FunkyBoldRibena Fri 06-Jun-14 07:22:25

Tonsillitis can last a good couple of weeks and can reoccur if you don't get over it properly. Keep the antibiotics box, and make sure you see the doctor for a sick note once you go over the self certified sickness days but stop doing work from home.

WhereTheWildlingsAre Fri 06-Jun-14 07:25:59

Do be very careful about how you Interpret the tone of an email, especially when you are ill. Seriously, leave it alone and go to bed. Watch Jeremy Kyle. That kind of thing!!

Hope you feel better soon x

WhereTheWildlingsAre Fri 06-Jun-14 07:27:07

Eleanor, that's exactly what you would have to do as a teacher to get the cover work sorted sad

Weathergames Fri 06-Jun-14 07:29:37

If you are ill you are ill don't do any work at all.

yellowdinosauragain Fri 06-Jun-14 07:36:03

I agree that although you're trying to help, doing work from home is undermining you a bit in that if you're up early and sending loads of emails in it could look as though you're not as ill as you say. That said she's very unreasonable. Turn the laptop off and go to bed.

No one needs to be doing lots of work from home when they're ill. One email to handover, fair enough. But if you're too ill to be in work then you're too ill. No one is indispensable.

SelectAUserName Fri 06-Jun-14 07:39:59

Do you know what is the only acceptable message from a manager to a sick colleague at the time?

"Sorry to hear you're unwell. Take care, see you when you're fit again."

If she has concerns about your sickness levels/frequency or your general performance, the time to address that would be when you're back at work. It also shouldn't be your job to sort out cover on a daily basis. A quick email outlining where you're at and what your next lesson plans were should suffice - and is more than she would get if you were off because you'd fallen downstairs and were unconscious, for example! One of the reasons she (presumably) gets manager money is to compensate her for having to take on the responsibility of dealing with resource and staffing issues.

Tonsillitis is horrible and debilitating and you need to rest. Turn off the laptop and forget about Ms Arsey until you're back at work and raising her inappropriate contact with HR/your head.

FoxyHarlow123 Fri 06-Jun-14 07:40:01

Wherethewildingsare - so if you'd broken both arms and legs or were physically unable to get out of bed, you'd be expected to email work in, just because you're a teacher? Do me a favour. Teachers aren't in some special other category of people who are flogged more than anyone else you know.

Cocolepew Fri 06-Jun-14 07:45:54

Im of sick this week, and probably next week. I was off for 8 weeks in feb/march. But its tough. If I was able to work I would. You can't help being ill.
I agree though, stay in bed, If you aren't fit for work dont do any.

SocialMediaAddict Fri 06-Jun-14 07:53:12

Stop working from home and go to bed to recover.

Quokka1 Fri 06-Jun-14 08:06:31

As far as I'm aware, teachers are not required to email work in when they are off sick but we all do it because we know what an added stress it is for colleagues to magic up 5 or 6 lessons for an absent member of staff at short notice when a staff member is off ill. We don't have to do it but we do because we care about our colleagues and we want our classes to have some quality work to do while we're off. It's not about martyrdom, it's about giving a damn about the people you work with and the kids in your care.

That said OP, your colleague is completely out of order and if you're still unwell on Monday, I'd be tempted to leave her to get on with it & say you're too ill to send any work in. She should be thankful that you have dragged yourself out of bed to send cover work in. I don't get this attitude amongst some teachers that it's wrong to take time off when you're unwell. It's not the kind of job you can just blag when you're feeling under the weather, you need to be 100% on top form. It's not like a class full of kids are going to sit quietly all day just because Miss is unwell. I've seen so many of my colleagues drag themselves into work when they shouldn't be there, only to make themselves more ill, resulting in longer off work than if they'd just taken a few days in the first place. Even worse, I get really pissed off when they bring in something contagious & we all end up getting it just for the sake of a few days off!

When you go back, I'd firstly bring it up with the woman who sent the emails & tell her how it made you feel. If you don't get a suitable apology, I'd be telling her that in the event you are ill again, you're not to be contacted & you won't be sending any cover work in as you'll be too busy getting yourself fit for coming back to work. Whether you want to take this further up the chain to her line manager is up to you - perhaps she could do with some training on her people skills!!

Hope you feel better soon!!

SuffolkNWhat Fri 06-Jun-14 08:11:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Quokka1 Fri 06-Jun-14 08:17:47

Foxy - obviously if you are physically incapacitated then you are unable to send in cover work to school. Most schools I have encountered expect you to send work in when off ill if you are physically able to. A good line manager will ask you where your classes are up to and will sort the work out for you but in some cases, it's not possible. For example there are some members of my team who let me know at 8:15am that they're not coming in for whatever reason. When classes start at 8:30am, it doesn't matter how much I get paid to be head of department, I can't magic up 6 lessons worth of work for different groups in 15 mins so in that case I'd expect my colleagues to email in some instructions. Good practice would be to let people know the night before but that's not always possible.

In the OP's situation, her line manager has known since Wednesday that she would potentially be off for the rest of the week - I'm no doctor but I know it takes more than a day to recover from tonsillitis so they should have been putting some work into place for her to cover her groups for at least the rest of the week so she wouldn't have been troubled with it.

OP you sound very conscientious, you'd be welcome in my team! I hope the woman who has upset you rereads her email, realises how unreasonable she has been & apologises! It's not your fault you're ill & to suggest you've made their lives more difficult is terrible! Get well soon!

charliexcy Fri 06-Jun-14 08:20:22

Well she is my HOD and technically also my line manager. Just get the feeling she's really angry with me for being off despite me covering everything I could think of. I'm actually glad I didn't go in today. Sat here feeling rubbish again.

FoxyHarlow123 Fri 06-Jun-14 08:29:28

And you wonder why teachers have the rep they do.

Quokka1 Fri 06-Jun-14 08:29:46

Try to put it out of your mind & concentrate on getting better. She's obviously a rubbish HoD/line manager (or someone who doesn't deal well with extra pressure so you'd have to question why she'd want this role if she can't cope with one member of staff being off. I once had 3 off on long term sick.... Now that was stressful!) & if you feel confident, call her on her behaviour when you get back. You don't have to be confrontational, just let her know that the tone & content of her emails upset you when you'd already got enough on your plate & remind her that you're not actually contractually bound to send in cover work when off ill so you'd actually done her a favour. If she is anything less than apologetic, take it further to her line manager.

I'd be absolutely mortified if I thought a member of my team was unwell & I'd made them feel bad for being off! At the end of the day, it's a job & your health is more important. No one ever had 'I wish I'd worked harder' written on their headstone!! Turn off the laptop, get to bed & get yourself well! smile

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