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To take sick leave to find a new job?

(30 Posts)
user1466714206 Sun 05-Mar-17 23:26:33

I'm currently being bullied by my manager. They have put me on a performance review without notice (we are meant to get training or to be told we are doing something wrong so we can rectify it before being put on a performance review) and they are making up things to purposefully make me look bad (but covering their tracks well so it is difficult to prove) so that they have evidence of me "not doing my job". I have a feeling that they are trying to push me out of the job. I am hard working, I'm good at my job and have never had any problems with my work or previous managers before, so think it's something personal. This manager has form for this, after bullying many people out purely cos they didn't like them.

I am at the end of my emotional tether. I am teary at work all the time, anxious, stressed and I just want to get out of there. I have been applying for as many jobs as I can in the evenings and at weekends but haven't heard anything back yet. Obviously I can't leave a job without having a new one to go to (I have a house and bills to pay for) but I am losing sleep over it, and just the thought of going in to work makes me cry. I have another month to go on the performance review and I don't know if I can cope that long. And I need to get a job soon in case the manager fires me at the end of the performance review - even though I'm doing everything that is asked of me.

Would it be unreasonable for me to be signed off with stress (which, I feel I am) but in that time use it to look for jobs and go for interviews?

And does anyone have any advice for anyone who has gone off sick with stress? Has it affected your chances of finding a new job?

Please help! Thank you

Crispbutty Sun 05-Mar-17 23:29:16

I was working at a terrible place where I was the scapegoat for my managers mistakes and it made me so ill with stress. The doctor signed me off, I got another job and explained to my new employers the truth of why I was leaving my old job. Best thing I could have done.

Desperatedaisy Sun 05-Mar-17 23:31:09

I would however, only if I could afford to be on the sick.
Your mental health is so important.

user1466714206 Sun 05-Mar-17 23:32:46

Crispbutty - Well done for getting a new job and escaping your horrible manager. Can I ask how long you were off for?

user1466714206 Sun 05-Mar-17 23:34:21

Desperatedaisy - that's another thing I worry about. But right now I'm becoming so poorly through stress. Plus I worry about having to take time off work for interviews as my boss makes it difficult to take annual leave when a huge notice period hasn't been given - and obviously interviews don't give you months notice. I think I could cope for a month maybe? And I would take the first job I could get

PuddleJumper01 Sun 05-Mar-17 23:39:32

My instinct was to say "do it" (and my gut is still saying that) but the pragmatist in me is also saying "but potential new employer will know your sick record".

Ok. Are you/could you be in a union?

Is there an HR?

Even without both, you have the right to be accompanied by a friend to advocate for you. Insist on having a friend to all meetings. Get them to write everything down (I've been a union rep, and - trust me - it scares the shit out of people when someone sits there scribbling. Esp if you occasionally say things like "sorry... what was your exact wording there?.... I wrote down "objects to washing up the office cups" but did you mean to say "objects to washing the office CATS?" People get everso edgy when you write down their words verbatim.

Can you send an email which says "please could you explain why I've been put on a performance review without notice?" if you can add "the procedure says xxx and yyy will happen before the performance review, please could you detail why this has not happened in this case"

Obviously, I don't know your situation. Maybe you're atrocious and deserve to be fired and out on your arse. Maybe, as you say, your manager is bullying you. But if your workplace has policies and procedures and they aren't following them, at the very least you should be quoting them and asking WHY they aren't following them, because that looks like constructive dismissal.

Good luck!

Please keep applying for other jobs!

Patriciathestripper1 Sun 05-Mar-17 23:41:01

Omg flowers that is a horrible way to have to live.
Can you go above your manager and ask for a fair review?
What about keeping a diary and lodging a complaint about your treatment?
Also never go into a one to one meeting alone take a co worker with you as you can no longer trust him to be fair. And do tbe afraid to tell him this.
I would personally go and see my gp explain what's going on and tell them how it is affecting you and ask them to sign you off sick (whilst you look for other work. )
What an utter bastard your boss is.

DJBaggySmalls Sun 05-Mar-17 23:44:42

Its constructive dismissal and you don't actually need proof to talk to ACAS. They're really helpful, they have seen it all before and they have some tricks up their sleeves.
Give them a ring before you do anything drastic. I dont think taking sick leave is a good idea if you are job hunting.

BlossomCat Sun 05-Mar-17 23:45:11

Could you sign up for any agency work? Being in that sort of situation is hideous. I was very stressed at work, but knew that I had an escape route by signing up to an agency. Just handing in my notice made me feel so much better.
I think that getting signed off sick with stress would be a sensible idea, as it would flag up how stressed you are.
Good luck, and I hope that you find an escape route ASAP x

Crispbutty Sun 05-Mar-17 23:45:52

I was signed off for a month and got a new job by the end of week one.

user1466714206 Sun 05-Mar-17 23:46:38

Thanks puddlejumper. I did contact HR asking for their help, and they replied "talk to your manager about it" which was really helpful hmm I am going to try and talk to my manager, but from past experience I know challenging them usually makes life even more hellish so I am trying to weigh up my options. An email might be best so that I have it on record.

I didn't know I could have a representative with me to write down notes, that is very handy to know as previously notes taken by my boss have not reflected the meeting we had. Would be good to have a witness there!

Thank you! And I won't, I'm a woman possessed recently when it comes to applying for jobs

user1466714206 Sun 05-Mar-17 23:49:01

Thanks Patricia. I didn't know I could take someone else in to the meeting with me, so think I will look in to this. Have found that previously trying to challenge the boss makes everything worse, but right now not sure it can get anything worse so may as well try! I am keeping print outs of emails with me and trying to log everything I can, but i know ultimately HR will side with the boss - they always do sad

user1466714206 Sun 05-Mar-17 23:50:06

Thanks DJBaggySmalls - will look in to that tomorrow! I know it's not ideal to take sick leave when job hunting, just running out of options (and sanity). Thank you

user1466714206 Sun 05-Mar-17 23:51:03

Blossomcat - that's a good idea, I hadn't thought of that. Not sure if there are any agencies close by so will do some investigating. Thank you smile

PuddleJumper01 Mon 06-Mar-17 00:01:05

get your "advocate" (could be your mum... doesn't matter who it is, as long as they can scribble furiously) to check details throughout the meeting with the other person taking notes.

At the end of the meeting suggest both (all?) note takers type up their notes and send round to all attendees.

With another hat on, I advocate for a group of people with specialist needs. That support means I accompany them to meetings. I go along to said meetings and sit with an open pad in front of me and a pen in my hand. And client after client after client tells me how different the meetings are when I'm there. It's not because I'm brilliant (I'm really not), it's because I make it obvious I'm writing things down! Clients tell me that people who've been really mean to them previously are there all being helpful and offering tissues and suggesting ways forward, and the ONLY difference is a witness for the "accused" taking notes.

Alleycat1 Mon 06-Mar-17 00:27:45

Do your previous managers still work for the company? As you got on well with them perhaps you could ask for advice from one of them. Would one be willing to challenge the procedure on your behalf?

Pinbasket Mon 06-Mar-17 08:49:24

Can you send an email which says "please could you explain why I've been put on a performance review without notice?" if you can add "the procedure says xxx and yyy will happen before the performance review, please could you detail why this has not happened in this case"

This suggestion written by Puddlejumper seems very good advice. It would be good to get their reasons in writing. Then be vigilant if they add more at the actual meeting! Good luck

Sallycinnamum Mon 06-Mar-17 08:56:50

Can I ask, OP, is this the public sector by any chance?

I had a similar situation a couple of years ago and in the end, I was signed off for two weeks for extreme workplace stress and negotiated a months gardening leave.

I started a new job the day after I left.

Nobody who has been in your position can know how utterly soul destroying it is. I was under so much stress my hair started coming out and I was plagued by mouth ulcers and cold sores.

I love my new job and I thank God I left when I did.

Can you get signed off for a week just to give you some breathing space?

flowery Mon 06-Mar-17 09:03:40

"you have the right to be accompanied by a friend to advocate for you"

No you don't. If you are attending a formal hearing related to your performance which could lead to a disciplinary warning (it's not clear whether this is that or not) you are entitled to be accompanied by a colleague or a trade union representative. Not a friend or "your mum". hmm

MrsTwix Mon 06-Mar-17 21:03:55

I believe (not an expert) that it is a disciplinary matter to go to a job interview while off sick. In theory if you are too ill to work then your are too ill for interview. I know that your circumstances are different, but just be careful.

user1466714206 Mon 06-Mar-17 21:04:31

Hi everyone. Thanks so much for all your support and suggestions, it has really helped and made me feel better about the situation. I've sent the boss an email outlining why I feel this is unfair, and evidence from HR to prove it, so hopefully i'll hear back soon. Can imagine they're going to try and wriggle their way out of it, even though there is no way they'll be able to as my email is very black and white - no room for wiggling. I'll be sure to keep you all updated if they reply.

Sallycinnamum - no it's not the public sector. I'm so sorry you had to go through a similar situation, it really is horrible isn't it! I feel like I haven't slept properly in weeks.

Alleycat - unfortunately my previous managers don't work at the company anymore.

MrsNuckyThompson Mon 06-Mar-17 21:08:27

To be brutally honest, from the employer's point of view, they'd likely be quite pleased if you take some leave then resign voluntarily.

I'm not suggesting that what is going on is right or fair in your situation and with this particular boss, but you can imagine that most people who are put on performance improvement plans think they are good at their jobs and that the management have it in for them. It is not an easy thing to manage someone's performance whether that be to actually improve it or to move them out as you suspect so in some ways just moving on will suit them too.

If advising a friend I'd suggest they cut their losses and leave rather than stay and fight it.

Good luck with it all.

PuddleJumper01 Mon 06-Mar-17 23:32:34

Actually, I'm pretty sure that if it's performance management you should be allowed to have an advocate in with you, which could be a colleague or union rep, but could just be some person off the street if that's who you choose.

And even if I'm wrong, and you aren't actually entitled to it, if you said to the person running the meeting "I would find it very difficult to be an 'attendee' at this meeting AND take notes, so is it ok if my next door neighbour's cat comes along to record the salient points for me?" they'd need a VERY good reason to say 'no'. (I believe cats are excellent with spelling and grammar, and have superb recall, so they'd be VERY well suited to the task)

flowery Tue 07-Mar-17 05:28:10

"Actually, I'm pretty sure that if it's performance management you should be allowed to have an advocate in with you, which could be a colleague or union rep, but could just be some person off the street if that's who you choose."

Nope. It might be your opinion that they "should be allowed" that, but there's no basis in law for that.

"if you said to the person running the meeting "I would find it very difficult to be an 'attendee' at this meeting AND take notes, so is it ok if my next door neighbour's cat comes along to record the salient points for me?" they'd need a VERY good reason to say 'no'."

No they wouldn't. They could just say no and wouldn't have to give any reason at all.

This is why posting employment stuff in AIBU rather than the Employment board is a bad idea- people who don't know their stuff post completely incorrect "advice" about your legal entitlements as being fact.

MaverickSnoopy Tue 07-Mar-17 06:14:48

Firstly, I'm sorry to hear that you're going through such a hard time.

On a practical note what's your history in your current role been like. Have you previously had bonuses for good performance, good appraisals, good feedback from colleagues etc? If so I would use this as evidence of your good performance. I would also cite that yes things can change but that on this basis it seems quite extreme that things have changed so much (not to say they can't). Obviously you can only do this if you have this evidence and this is true. For a previously excellent employee I would be looking at training and informal meetings before jumping to performance review.

Two friends of mine went through this (but with proper process). One which was warranted, one which was not. Both felt it was unjust and the one who was being mistreated got signed off sick (and the process was halted as there was no performance to review) and then signed up to an agency. There was no way she could have stuck it out any longer. She also interviewed for a permanent job which she was offered. Her reason for leaving was that her current role had changed into something that didn't resemble the role that she was previously doing and she wanted a job that she could have more input with.

What flowery says about representatives is spot on. By chance my DH was able to take a family member to a meeting (consultation for change not disciplinary) after he was told he could take a union rep or colleague. None of the colleagues were suitable and when he previously asked hr about a union he was told that the company did not recognise them and not to involve them. It then transpired that he could have had one there regardless but the union then didn't want to take him on as it was mid case. Obviouslya unique situation but you can always ask, although they do not have to agree.

In your shoes I would be getting signed off. I say this as having been through work place stress from bullying and suffered from middle of the night panic attacks and extreme anxiety. However i would also use the time to make a plan and sign up to agencies. Do you have an occupational health dept? If you do get signed off for a long period they should get involve and it would be good to have their input. Failing that do you have an employee assistance programme?

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