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To still be extremely bitter about this?

(39 Posts)
WanderingNotLost Fri 13-Nov-15 00:51:44

This is very long, apologies in advance.

My Dad was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer in March 2014. After struggling for several months, at the beginning of August 2014 I was signed off work with depression by my GP (prior to this I had 3 weeks’ absence for gastroenteritis, also signed off by GP, and 5 days for flu). I was prescribed antidepressants at the same time, the dosage of which was increased several times.

Whilse I was on sick leave there was constant pressure to get back to work- my boss made me send her weekly 'updates' by email- anybody with even the slightest knowledge of the experience of depression will know that this is ridiculous- I was having to essentially make shit up when all I wanted to write was 'Dear Boss, it's Friday again, my Father is still dying, I'm still having to take industrial strength antidepressants just to make it through the day. Alright thanks, same time next week, Wandering'.

I returned to work at the beginning of November. At the same time my Dad was moved into a hospice in a fairly remote village in Essex. I travel by public transport, and there is only 1 bus there from nearest town every hour and a half, with the last one leaving town at 18:50, and the last bus back to town leaving at 19:39. I realised that when I went back to working full days I would only be able to get the last bus, so I’d only be able to spend about 20 minutes with my Dad before I’d have to leave again. With this in mind, I asked my manager if, just for as long as my Dad was in the hospice (which at the time was only predicted to be a few weeks), I could possibly leave work about 40 minutes early a few days a week, to allow me to get the 17:20 bus from town and have closer to 2 hours with my father. The next day she and I spoke on the phone about it (she works from home and only comes into the office one day a month) and her suggestion was to alter my contracted working hours to two mornings and two full days a week. My workload would remain the same, but I would be spending less time essentially doing nothing in between tasks, and I’d have two afternoons and one full day free, so I would obviously be able to see my Dad a lot more. This was the element of the change that I was focussing on; it didn’t occur to me to ask about the effect on my salary, and no mention of it was made during the conversation. I verbally agreed to the changes and was sent my new contract to sign and return. This was when I discovered that my salary (at the time £25k) had been reduced by £10,000, or 40%. However since I had already verbally agreed, I didn’t feel that I could go back to her and say that I couldn’t do it. I felt like I'd be saying that spending time with my dying father wasn't worth the pay cut.


My new contract came into effect on the 24th November. On the 28th my Dad, who had been allowed to go home the day before, rapidly deteriorated and had to go back to the hospice. My uncle advised me of the seriousness of the situation and said I needed to get to the hospice as soon as possible. I left work immediately and went straight there.
The following Monday my DP contacted the office to let them know I was still at the hospice (I hadn't left at all since I'd got there on the Friday) with my father and would be there indefinitely. That night my Dad passed away.

I called my manager the next morning to let her know what had happened. She was sympathetic, but did say that she wasn’t sure how much compassionate leave she could allow me as I’d had so much ‘time off’ that year, so I would have to take the days I had off that week either out of my holiday allowance (it being December I only had a few days left), or as unpaid leave. As I knew I would be paid considerably less in December than I had been previously due to the change in my salary (I was technically overpaid in November too as the new contract started a week before payday, so that was also deducted from my December pay), I decided to take it from my holiday. The only compassionate leave I was given was the day I had off for the funeral. I went in mid-afternoon that Thursday (a day I usually had free) as my manager was in the office for the company Christmas party, but I was expected to be back at work the next Monday as, with the days I had off that week being taken out of my annual leave, I didn’t have enough holiday left to be off any more.

During this time I felt mentally and physically exhausted, those four days I had spent in the hospice being very emotionally and physically draining and having had very few hours sleep. My sleeping pattern became very fragmented; I have a great deal of trouble getting to sleep at night and would be awake until 4:30 – 5 a.m. and had frequent nightmares. I sent my manager an email on the Monday morning (at about 4:30 a.m.) and explained this, and said I didn’t feel able to go into work that day. This continued on the Tuesday, and that afternoon I spoke to her on the phone and she said that the current situation couldn’t continue, and that she wanted to offer me a settlement agreement, a draft of which she sent me by email the next day. She asked me to verbally agree as soon as possible. The sum I was offered in the settlement is £1000 – my manager said she was only supposed to offer £900 but had increased it. She also said that there were likely to be several redundancies in the first quarter of this year and that in that case, as I’d been with the company less than two years, I won’t be entitled to any payment at all. Essentially it was, take the settlement now or be made redundant later; either way you're out.

One of my tasks at work was to process the childcare vouchers issued to employees. To do this I had to look at the payroll breakdown. It was whilst doing this that I noticed that (with the exception of the company directors) everybody in the company was getting a 10% bonus, except for me. I wasn't prying; it was only through flicking through the pages in the payroll breakdown to find the childcare voucher sheet that I spotted it. So whilst everybody else in the company was having a lovely Christmas with an extra 10% of their salary to play with, I was paid less than £950. I know that the reason I didn't get a bonus was because of the amount of sick leave I had, which I would understand were it not that one of my colleagues had over two weeks more sick leave than I did, and he still got a bonus. However he had been with the company longer and was very seriously ill, whereas my sickness was 'in my head'. However his problems started when he injured himself playing rugby while he was pissed; mine started when I had to watch my Father dying a slow painful death.

Even though this was all almost a year ago, I still feel so hurt and upset by it. I just feel that I was kicked when I was down, and that I was punished for having too much ‘time off’ (as my manager kept referring to it). Before my Father got sick I'd never had any problems at work, I was good at my job and got on very well with everyone in the (very small) company.

Would you still be bitter about this? Or should I just get the hell over it?

WanderingNotLost Fri 13-Nov-15 00:52:20

ps - NC'd but long-time regular poster

TendonQueen Fri 13-Nov-15 00:58:14

I would still be bitter about that. Having said that, you also have to get over it, because it's happened now and there's no undoing it. But that was shitty treatment and I think most people would find it difficult to get over for quite some time. Have you seen a counsellor to talk over the terrible time you've had with all this? How is your depression now? flowers

WanderingNotLost Fri 13-Nov-15 01:12:57

Thank you. My depression is starting to ease up a bit- it took a while, I left two jobs fairly quickly as I wasn't ready to work but needed the money (wasn't eligible for JSA as taking the settlement meant I was technically voluntarily unemployed.) but I've been at my current job for a few months now and I'm starting to feel settled. However with it being this time of year again it's all been on my mind a lot more.

I haven't seen a counsellor; I have thought about but I'm just not sure how effective that sort of thing would be for me.

Justaboy Fri 13-Nov-15 01:22:00

WanderingNotLost Having seen some cases of depression any help that you can get is good and someone to talk to would I reckon be good.

As to that bitch of a manager I'd never wish depression on anyone but sometimes a dose of that might make her understand the real world a bit better and the meaning of empathy. But then again is it her or some
barsteward higher up the chain. Trouble is people like them never seem to suffer.

And well done to you for being with your poor old dad, bless you:-)

WanderingNotLost Fri 13-Nov-15 01:34:32

The thing is, even if it was the big boss and not my manager calling the shots, she knew me just as well because the company was so small (fewer than 10 people in the office most days)- if not better, because she was there all the time, unlike my manager who was only there 1 day a month.

Sadly I wasn't with my Dad when he passed. My bro persuaded me to come home and get a decent nights sleep as the Drs thought he might go on the way he was for another day or two. He died about 4 hours after I left.

ThirdThoughts Fri 13-Nov-15 01:38:14

It might be useful for you to try counselling or other talking therapy and find out if it is helpful to you. You won't really know until you try it.

You were treated so badly. I'm so sorry that you had all that hanging over you whilst you were caring for and saying goodbye to your Dad, it must have been so hard.

You are justified in feeling angry and upset about what happened to you. It would be good for your future well being if you could come to accept it and move forward. I really think talking things through with a professional would help. It's not a magic cure, but it really does help a lot of people.

Pteranodon Fri 13-Nov-15 01:54:46

Wandering, people often 'wait' to die while their loved ones are out of the room. As if they find it hard to say goodbye/want to spare you that moment. Your dad knew you were with him and would be coming back, knew you loved him. Don't beat yourself up about leaving that night.

Shakshuka Fri 13-Nov-15 02:18:48

You clearly haven't been treated well but you do need to move on (unless you want to seek compensation).

They could certainly have been more compassionate but, at the end of the day, it's a business. You probably correct that you were punished for having too much time off. It's not nice and it's not fair but you were at the company for less than two years and had already had had four weeks off sick followed by three months for depression and then time off because of your father's death. Again, not your fault of course but from the company's perspective that's a lot of time that you're not working.

They could have handled it all better but it wasn't personal. Like you said, you're good at your job and you're not normally off so much. Maybe if you'd have been with the company longer and could have been more established and able to demonstrate who you are then they would have handled it differently (like with the rugby player). It was just bad luck that it all happened while you were a fairly new employee.

By the way, my company gives no compassionate leave, not even one day. It comes out of annual leave or unpaid leave. Sadly both my parents have died from cancer in the last two years, in both cases I have had to travel across continents to be with them. In both cases, I have had to take off a few weeks and had to cobble it together from annual leave and unpaid leave. It's shit but it is what it is, it's not personal.

SchnooSchnoo Fri 13-Nov-15 04:54:45

flowers for you as I also lost my father to prostate cancer earlier this year, less than six months after diagnosis. In my case I couldn't be there at the end because I had an ebf newborn and another child at home and my dad was in a hospice over a hundred miles away. I did the best that I could. I don't feel guilty for that.

The rest of it does honestly sound shit, but as pp have said, you need to find a way to let it go. Hanging on to the bitterness is probably an avoidance tactic for your grief, and the only person you're hurting is you! Get over it, grieve for your dad, rebuild yourself and your life anew! Easier said than done I know, but you'll get there!

WanderingNotLost Fri 13-Nov-15 08:10:48

Gosh Shakshuka that's dreadful! In my case though, it absolutely was personal. It wasn't like I worked for some massive corporation with an HR policy on compassionate leave- my boss decided to punish me for having too much time on sick leave (with depression, for fucks sake) by not allowing me any time off to grieve for my Dad after he died. It wasn't like she had no choice.

crabbiearses Fri 13-Nov-15 09:11:31

they treated you dreadfully at your most vulnerable time, it should have been enough for you to say i won't be in when your dad died and they were horrible not to accept that.
they sound like a crap employer so id just go forward glad that you aren't working for them anymore, most other employers would be compassionate .

DeoGratias Fri 13-Nov-15 09:15:18

It sounds awful for you.
One dya off when a parent dies though is not particularly unusual.

Why not look for a better paid job with more hours as it sounds like you aren't too happy where you are?

Justaboy Fri 13-Nov-15 09:28:55

Shakshuka Many years ago after the birth of our first daughter my wife developed severe post natal depression and manic depression I think it was called or termed puerperal psychosis also.

I'd been in the new job around a couple of days and had to ask for around a fortnight off.

My then manager said, "That's OK mate, you go home and be with your woman and child and look after them and when she's better then come back"

That was a super firm to have worked for very well run and managed around 30 years ago now that was.

Thestressofit Fri 13-Nov-15 09:42:50

I suffer from depression and my Father died from cancer just after I was diagnosed.

I think asking for updates is pretty standard and I know you were very vulnerable but am not suprised that a reduction in hours meant a reduction in pay. At that point a proper debate should have taken place but you were too upset, depression and sadness was clouding your judgement.

Compassionate leave was only given for funerals of immediate family in every workplace I have ever worked in.

I think you need tto realse it wasnt persoal. Not sure if you would have a claim as you took a payment.I did this with my ex employers and there was the stipulation that I couldn't take them to a tribunal, just mentioning this as another poster has said about claiming.

LatinForTelly Fri 13-Nov-15 09:46:48

They treated you very badly, and it's understandable you still feel bitter. I'm sorry too, for everything you've gone through, and for your poor dad.

I think, though, that unless you plan to seek compensation from your old company, you have to find a way of dealing with this so it doesn't eat you up. Maybe it is worth trying some counselling - you don't know whether it would work or not.

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Fri 13-Nov-15 09:56:07

I appreciate that it was a difficult time for you, but please realise that despite what pp are saying you have no case for compensation from the company.

MerryMarigold Fri 13-Nov-15 10:10:41

I think small companies are really bad at this sort of thing, because as a percentage of the outgoings your salary 'shows up' not just as a tiny blip in a huge company. Also the company directors have a close eye on the money, not like big companies where it all gets lost in HR.

I had a similar experience when I was chronically sick in a small company, for about 2 years. I didn't even realise at the time how bad it was. They basically made me see a company doctor who said I wasn't sick (it was Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), though another doctor did diagnose it. I had no 'actual' time off though a lot of days sick and wasn't functioning well at work. For the first 7 years I worked for them, I probably took max half my holiday (it was not made up for in pay). When I got ill I took much less, maybe 5 days out of 20 (I was too ill to go on holiday as I saw it and felt too guilty to take holiday as I had had time off), so many of my sick days could be considered holiday anyway! Finally I left/ felt pushed out as I was struggling so much. So in all the time I was very ill I never actually had, or was encouraged to take, a full week or month off work. I was very young and inexperienced, first job, although I was in my 9th year of working for the company when I left. It's only now with 15 years hindsight I realise how bad it was, and how manipulated I was, how they used my lack of experience and my parents' lack of experience in the corporate world (I think other parents would have had better advice). I could have taken A LOT more from the company. But in small places, you feel very loyal too.

You were treated very unfairly, but I can easily see how it happened in a small place. Bitterness is never good though, for you. The people who should be paying emotionally are not! There needs to be a way to let go of the bitterness and I think the counselling could help with that, especially if you go in there with that very specific goal.

WanderingNotLost Fri 13-Nov-15 10:12:06

I'm not after compensation... I've no idea where that notion came from, I've never even mentioned it.

People keep saying it wasn't personal but it really was. It wasn't company policy, it was handled on a case by case basis and decided by people who sat around me and talked to me every day. It doesn't get much more personal than that!

gladisgood Fri 13-Nov-15 10:12:45

I am so glad you are feeling better after your depression, but like pp's have said, you have to let this go and move on with your life.

As a small company with less than 10 employees, the owner/ boss has paid you £25K for most of the time you were there. ( which would have had more of an impact than on a large corporation who very rarely allow compassionate leave) Not to mention massively increased the work load of everybody else during your time off.

If they are heading for redundancies - have you thought they are actually trying to help you by giving you a pay-off that you wouldn't otherwise be entitled to ?

They sound like they have been OK, under the circumstances - they could have been better, it's true - but they haven't been completely shit, either.

Take the good bits ( they didn't try to get rid of you early on, they paid you full salary, tried to help you reduce hours) and forget about the bad bits would be my advice. flowers

WanderingNotLost Fri 13-Nov-15 10:14:25

I was the lowest paid person in the whole company. There were several people there on 2 or 3 times my salary, even the CEO's driver got paid more than I did. So I don't think they did it because I was costing them too much

PeasinPod1 Fri 13-Nov-15 10:16:31

OP, I was let go by a (small) company in the most sudden, consuming, nasty way so I understand the shock, anger, upset, humiliation this can cause.
I am now in a much better role, for a huge globally recognised company and so much happier. See it as these things can happen for a reason. Be glad you no longer work for a boss who is cold, odd, unsympathetic, overly demanding and as an opportunity to find something much better. You need to focus on the now and future, and stop looking back. Its over.
The jobs gone, you've closed a door on it and that nasty boss and giving them another thought, let alone dwelling on it/them is far too much than they are worth. They are nothing. Not worthy of any more emotion. Learn from it and move on. x

PeasinPod1 Fri 13-Nov-15 10:17:12

# confusing not consuming

OhBeloved Fri 13-Nov-15 10:21:59

Many years ago I too had a very shit time with my then employers and one manager in particular. It really knocked my confidence and I did nothing at all - either tribunal or counselling.

Even after many years I regret that I didn't do one or other, because looking back I realise that experience had quite a long term affect on me.

Even if you're doubtful of counselling, I'd give it a go. You might only need one or two sessions to be able to feel more comfortable about the job events. It sounds like they have got tied up with your grief and extricating them might help you grieve for your father without thinking about the shitty job. flowers

LockTheTaskBar Fri 13-Nov-15 10:22:29

I think you were treated appallingly. I am so sorry about your father and your illness and I hope things can get much, much better for you soon. flowers

I think you really need to look after yourself and focus on your future. Think about looking after your physical and mental health, and finding work that you enjoy and is good for you.

you don't say much about anyone else in your personal life. Do you still have a dp? Is (s)he any good at supporting you? Do you have other friends, family?

What I have learned from being treated truly shittily at work is:

- you can't really stop them. There is very little you can do to stop employers who are determined to from exploiting you, treating you badly, with serious knock on effects to your whole health and life
- but they are not the only kind of employers there are. The only thing you can do - the best thing for you - is to walk away and live well.

Now is the time to get on with the rest of your life. you may need help to do this. But please get it and please be as happy and as healthy as you can

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