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In thinking that a phone call with a staff member telling you they may have had a mini stroke is not the time to mention a sickness record.

(52 Posts)
GratefulHead Tue 11-Nov-14 14:34:44

Bid am feeling so stressed here and anxious.

To cut a long story short I recently went back to work (April) to work mornings only. The reason I chose those hours is because my son is autistic with ADHD, he sleeps poorly and it was all I could manage. The job involves caring for sa child who is very physically disabled in a mainstream school and so needs a reliable number of staff, I made the third person. Anyhow, job lovely and child fabulous.
Fast forward to September and I return after the summer holidays to find both other LSA staff have left.....one out of the blue.
Since then I have been filling in the extra hours so working all day which I am really struggling to do. The only reason I am doing this is because the child I work with has to have someone and is lovely.the school have advertised for someone new and are interviewing next week. The new person will start in January.

Four weeks prior to half term I let the school know I could not continue with the extra hours as I was literally on the backs of my knees trying to hold work and home together. DS had just started secondary school and was struggling and not sleeping. I was exhausted. The school waited until the week before half term and then asked me to please continue until the new person was in post. As by that point my DS was sleeping a little better I agreed....silly me, I need to learn to say NO.

Now to sickness...I have had two periods of sickness since I started in April. One for three days in September when I injured my back at work. The second since Friday....another back injury due to pulled muscles with coughing (had a cold). The child I work with requires a great deal of manual handling so I am reluctant to risk further injury.

In addition this morning I experienced some horrible symptoms...basically went numb all down my left side, lost vision in my left eye and felt weak. I thought I was having a stroke. It went rapidly and I felt back to normal within five to ten mins. I made an emergency appointment with my GP who has referred me to the mini stroke clinic. I am sat here worrying but also trying to be sensible and think that the fact they don't want to see me until Monday is a positive/reassuring thing. I am not allowed to drive either....which is another stress.

Anyhow I rang the school and spoke with the HT who while lovely and wished me better etc could not stop herself mentioning my sick record because "obviously you have only been here since April".

AIBU in thinking there are better occasions to mention this?
I didn't bloody well plan this to happen.

Or am I being unreasonable? Is this acceptable of her?

I am so anxious at the moment and now I am worrying about going back to work too.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Tue 11-Nov-14 14:43:17

YANBU at all, she sounds quite callous

PurpleCrazyHorse Tue 11-Nov-14 14:46:34

It seems a bit insensitive to mention it at the time you ring in. I stick to wishing my staff member well and asking them to call in the next day (or other pre-determined day).

I tend to mention total episodes at their return to work interview on returning to work. TBH our sickness policy outlines it all anyway, so I don't need to say much at the time of calling in. Your sickness is what it is and getting funny about it doesn't really help at that time.

effinandjeffin Tue 11-Nov-14 14:48:50

What exactly did she say? In some jobs three separate instances of sickness sets of an occupational health assessment. Perhaps she had to mention it.

MsAspreyDiamonds Tue 11-Nov-14 15:05:14

m.acas.org.uk/

Give acas a call and find out what your rights are and what avenues are open to you. I think you need some independent & professional advice here.

I had a panic attack at work & my line manager decided to use my back to work interview as a performance management excercise. There are a shocking number of managers with poor practice out there.

CrohnicallyAnxious Tue 11-Nov-14 15:12:00

If you originally hurt your back at work, surely they shouldn't 'count' that absence? What treatment did you have, because that injury could be affecting your back still leading to last Friday's absence.

The headteacher was very insensitive to mention it when you phoned in, even if you have automatically triggered an occupational health assessment, she should have called a meeting with you on your return.

Finally, they really should be getting agency staff to fill in until January. They obviously can cope without you, as they have been doing since Friday. You can say 'no' to doing any hours over as above your contracted ones, especially in light of you becoming ill, probably as a result of the stress! It might be possible to get you signed off by the GP as only fit for a reduced timetable at work, rather than keep taking sickness absence.

Hope you get better soon

googoodolly Tue 11-Nov-14 15:28:25

YANBU, these things should be saved for return-to-work interviews.

But, three absences in a twelve month period is a trigger point in many workplaces so you need to be prepared for either a warning, a disciplinary or a meeting with occupational health when you get back.

Document what's happened and your phonecall to the GP, and when you've been to the clinic, PLEASE go back to your GP and get everything documented about your stress levels. Work can only support you if you're supporting yourself - they need to see that you're doing everything you can to stay healthy and attend work.

Your GP may well issue you with a fit note which can say that you can go back to work, but only to work your contracted hours - it's worth asking for. They can't make you work above your contract so if you don't want to do the hours, you need to learn to say no.

Good luck! flowers

GratefulHead Tue 11-Nov-14 16:20:37

Thanks all, calming down now. Was so anxious and stressed earlier.

I suspect that it's been a real struggle for the school this week. My back injury in September occurred at school. I wasn't lifting at the time, it just literally "went" and I was out for three days.
This time it was due to coughing and unfortunately this suspected mini-stroke has occurred at the same time.
i am fou ting it as two periods of sickness but of course it's three isn't it if there have been two separate illnesses in the same period.

The other issue is having had to request two lots of unpaid leave due to DS and appointments but the school knew this was a possibility when I was interviewed as I told them.

I love my job but it's because of the child I work with. There have been no complaints about my work and I have had really good/positive feedback about the work I do with this child. I don't want to get a reputation for always being off sick either though sad

I am stressing about going back now though and I don't want to stress. I am quite prepared for any sickness policy to kick in on my return. The school have procedures to follow and I understand that. It's just that horrible underlying feeling of anxiety with it all.

whatever5 Tue 11-Nov-14 17:11:31

The head teacher is either an insensitive bitch or she is very ignorant (perhaps both). They can't "discipline" you when you go back to work as you have a very good reason for being off sick so I really wouldn't worry about it.

googoodolly Tue 11-Nov-14 17:19:21

whatever - that's not helpful. In a lot of workplaces, it is a disciplinary offence to be off sick more than 3 times in any twelve month period, regardless of sick notes or how genuine you might be. It might not be fair but it is what it is.

OP, you need to get everything documented because it will help if this goes forward to a disciplinary, plus it's always best to have everything on file in case you're off sick again with a similar problem. Get to your GP and get an appointment about the stress, and ask them to write you a fit note - this means you won't be signed off, but your GP will limit what you can/cannot do at work (so they can say you're not able to work more than your contracted hours due to your health).

Good luck.

TheVioletTinsel Tue 11-Nov-14 17:24:13

Are you a union member? if not join pronto. And don't push yourself to go over your agreed hours if this is all the thanks you get. Best wishes for the Tia clinic.

whatever5 Tue 11-Nov-14 17:28:35

whatever - that's not helpful. In a lot of workplaces, it is a disciplinary offence to be off sick more than 3 times in any twelve month period, regardless of sick notes or how genuine you might be. It might not be fair but it is what it is.

And I don't think it is helpful to stress OP about disciplinary proceedings. My understanding is that she is currently off work because of a suspected TIA not stress. I don't think believe that it is legal to "discipline" someone who is off work because of a suspected TIA. That is hardly an abuse of sick leave.

aermingers Tue 11-Nov-14 17:28:40

They are sometimes obliged to legally remind you of their sickness policy, particularly if they use the Bradford system. And also because you presumably have only just finished your probationary period and if I remember correctly even when you have finished probation you have very few rights legally until you've been there at least a year.

Thinking about it from their point of view. You're in a school so presumably you've been off for the summer break and also had two half terms in there so have only actually been required to be at work for six of those months and you've had 5 periods off sick. Given that the child that your supporting needs to have someone who's there reliably and can physically cope with the job I can see why they have concerns. I don't think it's out of nastiness, I think they're just concerned the child is properly supported. I have to say if I was the child's parent I would have concerns and I think that the school will have to recognize that.

hackmum Tue 11-Nov-14 17:32:19

The thing that strikes me about this is that bringing up the OP's sickness record when they are so heavily reliant for her and desperate to make her work hours she doesn't want to do is really shooting themselves in the foot. I think the OP is holding the cards in this situation. What's to stop her saying "You can take your job and shove it"?

googoodolly Tue 11-Nov-14 17:53:08

It's not stressing her out, it's getting her prepared for when she goes back. Most places have a return-to-work interview the first day you're back from sick leave and you need to have all your sick notes/evidence with you to prove your case.

What's to stop her saying "You can take your job and shove it"?

probably the same thing that would stop 99% of workers saying that - she needs the money. Most people cannot afford to just sack in their jobs and workplaces know that.

whatever5 Tue 11-Nov-14 18:01:01

It's not stressing her out, it's getting her prepared for when she goes back. Most places have a return-to-work interview the first day you're back from sick leave and you need to have all your sick notes/evidence with you to prove your case.

It would stress me out if someone started talking about disciplinary procedures when I was already very worried about my health. The OP will have all the evidence she needs if the doctor has signed her off sick due to a suspected TIA and she has an appointment at a TIA clinic on Monday because of it.

GratefulHead Tue 11-Nov-14 20:29:13

Yes I accept the issues regarding supporting the child. I really didn't anticipate this though. It's two occasions off sick and two appointments. Both appointments were on teacher training days and I took unpaid leave for that.

Tbh I could indeed jack in the job, DS has enough issues I can claim Carers Allowance but I really don't want to do that.

It was just not good this morning when I already felt anxious.

I am worrying about going back to work but trying to keep a lid on it.

aermingers Tue 11-Nov-14 22:27:09

Do you think perhaps there are any more appropriate jobs that you can do at the school? It might not be an issue of leaving completely but perhaps moving sideways? Are there any positons vacant which don't involve manual handling? Because it sounds like it's an important part of the job but you're struggling to do it.

Hotbot Tue 11-Nov-14 23:13:39

Sorry for your sickness, were you sick whilst working o/t are your new hrs contracted or paid on an o/ t bas is, if so this sickness may not count

BreakOutTheKaraoke Wed 12-Nov-14 00:06:42

Not got much advice on the sickness thing, just wanted to pipe up for the TIAs.

Please, DON'T stress about things like this problem, as much as you can help it anyway, as you are more likely to have them again. Stress has contributed a very large amount to my mum having a lot of these TIAs.

Don't rush back to work. You will be tired for the next few days, or weeks, or months. Your brain needs sleep to recover. Your doctor should be more than happy to write a sick note.

The fast referral for the TIA clinic is good, but there is very little that they can do- asparin only if it's the same treament around the country. But giving up/ cutting down any smoking, drinking and stress will reduce your chances of it turning into a full stroke next time.

GratefulHead Wed 12-Nov-14 08:07:56

Thank you. It's stress which is my biggest issue I suspect. I don't smoke and rarely drink and that makes me low risk apparently.

My biggest worry is that I'll be told not to drive for a month. The DVLA website suggests that this is the case. Should go down a storm at work !

GP did suggest a migraine as a possible cause but I had no headache so it's unlikely. sad

I am going to reconsider work tbh. If it brings this much stress I may just as well be at home focusing on DS. Oh I don't know....

Calmer today but lots of underlying issues to consider.

flowery Wed 12-Nov-14 08:40:34

It really isn't helpful to tell the OP her workplace "can't" discipline her because she has a good reason for being off, as that quite simply isn't the case. There's no particular reason to believe they are going to, but correcting inaccurate legal advice someone has given isn't scaremongering, it's making sure that the OP/anyone else reading in a similar situation doesn't react in the wrong way if that does happen, and start claiming legal rights they simply don't have.

OP the HT was of course wrong to react in that way. It is entirely likely she/the school are under a lot of stress at the moment, which may have resulted in a heat of the moment reaction that is out of character. That doesn't excuse it of course, but you will know her and will therefore be in a position to judge whether that is a factor or whether this is typical of her.

Make sure you are familiar with the relevant policy so you know if they deviate from it, and look after yourself as a priority. They can and will manage.

whatever5 Wed 12-Nov-14 08:56:03

It really isn't helpful to tell the OP her workplace "can't" discipline her because she has a good reason for being off, as that quite simply isn't the case. There's no particular reason to believe they are going to, but correcting inaccurate legal advice someone has given isn't scaremongering, it's making sure that the OP/anyone else reading in a similar situation doesn't react in the wrong way if that does happen, and start claiming legal rights they simply don't have.

I'm sure that some workplaces would try to start disciplinary procedures for being off work shortly after a TIA but that doesn't mean that they can do that (ie. it doesn't mean they would win at an employment tribunal). Anyway, OP works for a local education authority and I can't imagine they would attempt disciplinary proceedings in these circumstances.
OP will have plenty of evidence that she is genuinely ill and the last thing she needs to stress about is "proving her case" for a disciplinary proceeding especially as she has said she doesn't need to do the job anyway.

flowery Wed 12-Nov-14 09:26:16

"I'm sure that some workplaces would try to start disciplinary procedures for being off work shortly after a TIA but that doesn't mean that they can do that (ie. it doesn't mean they would win at an employment tribunal)."

Well if you could enlighten us about what claim someone would bring and which piece of legislation/case law you are referring to which means workplaces "can't" discipline for genuine illness, that would be really helpful.

No one is saying the OP should be stressing about disciplinary proceedings. But it's just irresponsible to give inaccurate legal advice. The best way of encouraging someone not to stress about something if you have reason to believe she is, is to reassure her that it is unlikely and encourage her to inform herself about procedures in her workplace, as I have done.

whatever5 Wed 12-Nov-14 10:44:12

No one is saying the OP should be stressing about disciplinary proceedings. But it's just irresponsible to give inaccurate legal advice. The best way of encouraging someone not to stress about something if you have reason to believe she is, is to reassure her that it is unlikely and encourage her to inform herself about procedures in her workplace, as I have done.

I wasn't claiming to be a legal expert providing legal advice. I am speaking as a healthcare professional who works in the public sector. The LEA won't start disciplinary proceedings because she off work after a potential TIA. At the moment OP needs to stress as little as possible, not worry about something that won't happen or spending time familiarising herself with workplace procedures.

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