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Being punished at work during a really difficult time

(314 Posts)
Habbs Wed 24-Apr-19 20:40:16

28 weeks pregnant and having a difficult couple of weeks. Some issues were flagged up at a growth scan, I opted for an amniocentesis, no results yet but been told to prepare myself. I'm obviously devastated and have been a mess since it all happened.

I left work to go to the scan, with it being taken as an ante-natal appointment and to go back afterwards, obviously after getting bad news and spending a long time talking to the consultant I over ran until my office had shut.

I didn't sleep at all that night, I suffer from anxiety anyway and this just made me a complete wreck. I text my manager in the morning saying I wouldn't be in, just explaining I had some concerns with my pregnancy and that I was very upset. He replied saying "You know policy Habbs, sorry but I need a phone call" I didn't feel up to it but I know it's procedure so I rang, within 30 seconds I was hysterical which I know is embarrassing as a grown woman/supposed professional but I'm just a wreck with it all. I ended up having to end the call because I couldn't speak I was so upset. I text and said I'm so sorry, I'm really struggling to hold myself together enough to speak about it. No reply.

I had the amnio the next day, I didn't want to text again so I emailed his work address just to explain I was having an amnio, that I'm sorry for not being more professional and that once I knew more I'd be in touch properly. Thanked him for understanding and apologised for leaving the team short for the remainder of the week. No reply.

It's been a few days since, I've been home with DH just in bits. Every now and then it just hits me and I panic and cry. I'm barely sleeping and having a lot of panic attacks. Manager hadn't been in touch since and I thought it was understood that I was just having a few days to deal with everything.

I've had an email now with a letter attached about a disciplinary hearing for a week unauthorised absence due to 'lack of adequate contact' and it's really hurt me. I've never done anything like this before but I'm really struggling, I tried to speak to him and couldn't pull myself together enough. It just seems such insensitive timing to do this when I've got a lot on my plate waiting for results. I'm not sure what to do? I know companies have policies but surely for something like this you would give people a little bit of slack? I'm already so worried about my baby and now I'm worried about my job too.

Quartz2208 Wed 24-Apr-19 21:04:06

I am sorry your pregnancy is going this way but with respect you have failed to go into work for a week and not signed off properly - what did you think would ahppen?

You cant slate him - he apologised and asked you to call and after that you did not call him again merely sent 2 emails - he has a boss he has to go to

WhoWants2Know Wed 24-Apr-19 21:04:40

Pregnancy related illness doesn't count towards sick leave, but it's still necessary to follow policy.

Given what has happened, OP would probably have been best to go right to the GP and being signed off sick until things were more settled.

But since that didn't happen, is it worth going to the GP to discuss your stress levels? Then, if possible, speak to your union and HR.

(Is a policy like that absolute? What if someone is in an accident or hospital and unable to phone?)

Newyearbollocks Wed 24-Apr-19 21:05:05

Actually if you have text, emailed and phoned. That is adequate contact. It's also just as much works responsibility to contact you if they know the situation. I doubt he will get very far with the disciplinary. Get a few weeks sick note, and hand that it.
That's poor management.
But yes don't slate him at the meeting, simply state facts.
If someone is off work with awful anxiety and stress and can prove it. Which you can! His intentions will backfire.

Littlebelina Wed 24-Apr-19 21:05:09

To famalas point you can't be forced to go on maternity leave until 4 weeks before your estimated week of childbirth so don't worry about that.

As for the time off you can't turn back time now. If you need to take more time off make sure you do it by the book. Maybe ring acas (or union if you have one ) for advice. Be prepared for the meeting and explain the situation. They might be more sympathetic if they fully realise what has happened. Your time off sick can't be used against you if it's pregnancy related but suspect the not following the calling in procedure might. I've been in your shoes op and it is shit

greenlloon Wed 24-Apr-19 21:05:13

Omg that's so so bad!! Go to the disciplinary and absolutely slate him. Show whoever you need to proof of the texts and call you did try to make. Be careful getting signed off as it could start your mat leave. Good luck to you.

some of the worse advice on mumsnet ive seen she says the policy is to phone and she made 1 phone call and has been of a few days some of them she made no contact at all.

ConfCall Wed 24-Apr-19 21:06:26

I’m so sorry about your health OP, but I’d strongly suggest that you keep calm, cooperate and apologise for not communicating properly.

saraclara Wed 24-Apr-19 21:06:40

What I did when I couldn't face actually talking when I was in crisis with a tragic event, was to call work before anyone was in, and leave a message on the answering machine. In my place of work that was okay. In your case it would at least have been better than no message at all.

Wishing you well with the test results.

IsoscelesSandwich Wed 24-Apr-19 21:08:12

Honestly sometimes people are such sticklers for protocol. I’d never treat a member of staff like that, he knew what was going on, if your manager had any emotional intelligence he’d have coped.
I hope everything works out ok for you.

TheMaddHugger Wed 24-Apr-19 21:10:20

(((((((Huge soft Hugs, Madd Hugs))))))) Madd ((((((((Hugs)))))) 🔆🌻🔆💐

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Wed 24-Apr-19 21:11:04

I echo what others have said - I really hope you get good news about the results of the scan.

But I'm not quite sure I follow the timeline here as it's a Wednesday yet a "few days ago" you say you emailed to say you were having an amnio and apologised for leaving the team short-handed for the remainder of the week. So have you been off for over a week now with no further phone call after that first conversation? Your "once I knew more I'd be in touch properly" is a really vague way to leave things. You can see why they might be escalating this - if the policy is to ring in, you need to ring in. I can understand that you're upset and stressed, but you can still function - you typed a very coherent post here - so can surely manage a two minute phone call each day to say you're not coming in. And this would have saved you lots of additional stress and anxiety.

It seems dreadful because of what you are going through but their comment about "lack of adequate contact" is absolutely fair, I'm afraid.

Habbs Wed 24-Apr-19 21:11:37

The disciplinary hearing is booked for next week. If I am signed off do I still need to attend? I know how pathetic it sounds but I'm feeling very fragile at the moment and can just about hold it together but the second baby is mentioned, or it comes into my head I just burst into tears. As pathetic as it may be I won't be able to make it through a disciplinary without getting embarrassingly upset. I'm not in the right frame of mind.

Tunnocks34 Wed 24-Apr-19 21:13:08

I think they have been unkind. I have found myself in a similar situation. We found an abnormality at my 20 week scan, and I had an MRI yesterday at 23 weeks to decide if my baby would be ok and just require extra monitoring, or if he would die. Thankfully he is ok. However, I haven’t been in work for a week. I rang into work, and text my assistant head, emailed my head teacher. All supportive, caring and understanding.

I have been signed off until the 7th May. I offered to go to my GP to have my sicknote basically cancelled but they insisted I take the time to rest, and get myself back together.

There are policies in place of course, but human compassion and understanding shouldn’t be void and missing either. Employees aren’t robots and there are absolutely times when management should show some flexibility, and kindness.

I really hope you’re ok OP, and that you get the results you’re hoping for.

greenlloon Wed 24-Apr-19 21:13:12

Actually if you have text, emailed and phoned. That is adequate contact she didnt she only made contact on 2 days then presumably he next 3 she did nothing I've had an email now with a letter attached about a disciplinary hearing for a week unauthorised absence due to 'lack of adequate contact'

QforCucumber Wed 24-Apr-19 21:13:24

I'm also on the fence a bit here, we've had some bad news this week regarding my pregnancy in that we are having to tfmr and the first thing I did was contact work - yes I was a sobbing mess for a good few minutes but managed to explain the situation, that my OP is tomorrow and would it be ok to take the rest of the week off and contact them Monday morning with an update? This was fine. I also kept them informed after having a mmc 5 years ago, advised procedures, results, dates and potential return to work dates -speaking to management each working week to keep them up to date too.
Pregnancy sickness isn't counted against you, and I'm so sorry for your news. But you need to keep them in the loop or they're none the wiser. Do they know when your results are due? Do they know the potential outcome and requirements?

Bluntness100 Wed 24-Apr-19 21:13:25

Actually if you have text, emailed and phoned. That is adequate contact

Seriously you don't get to decide their absence policy and decide what's right, confused

As hard as it is, the op needed to follow policy and be signed off appropriately. She can't decide what's adequate either. That's really not how it works.

I'm sure the disciplinary will come to nothing, but all they have to go on is she was off last week, hasn't come in this week, and there has been no further contact.

Some terrible advice on here, but deciding their policy is irrelevant and what you personally deem adequate is what's relevant, is got to be the worst.

Habbs Wed 24-Apr-19 21:14:21

Onlyliving Yes I can type coherently which is why I was sending emails. The second I tried to speak to him i was inconsolable. I'm not saying it's right but I've never cried as much as I have this last week and had to end the call due to how hard I was sobbing. I have never text or emailed in before, I thought given he'd heard how upset I was trying to make one call that maybe he understood why I wasn't making them

Tunnocks34 Wed 24-Apr-19 21:14:35

And Habbs I understand, I couldn’t talk about the baby without crying, I couldn’t go into what will be his nursery, I cried writing the email and text to my boss, and hysterically wailed through each consultant appointment.

BabyBadger2 Wed 24-Apr-19 21:16:48

Yes there are policies but the OP and her manager are humans not robots and it seems as though there was no empathy at all in this interaction.

We have a strict policy too but as a manager I wouldn't dream of instigating formal proceedings without trying to initiate some contact (let alone ignoring your texts). Just something along the lines of 'how are you doing today' or 'Please could you send me an update when you are up to it - I'm really sorry to ask, but it's policy to check in every day.' Everywhere I've worked, managers usually have much more discretion than they let on, and could accept a text update in the circumstances.

Is there a back story? Do you get on with your manager usually? Have you taken a lot of sick leave in the past?

Definitely don't slate him, because technically you are in the wrong and wont have a leg to stand on if it does go further. Just explain the contact you did have - just the facts will make him look like an utter dick.

Dippypippy1980 Wed 24-Apr-19 21:16:56

While yes you should have given them more information and kept in better contact, surely they realise there is something seriously wrong?

If one of my team rang in after a medical appointment too distressed to speak and then emailed, I would have replied, offered support and gently established the timeline. Line manger discretion is key in very sensitive situations.

I would advise you to go to the hearing if you possibly can - with medical evidence. It’s okay if you cry. Take a union rep if you have one.

Apologies for not following protocol - but explain you were in a highly distressed state.

Tunnocks34 Wed 24-Apr-19 21:17:54

I agree babybadger

Habbs Wed 24-Apr-19 21:19:45

BabyBadger yes I think that's what I'm struggling with, when he replied to my initial message saying he needed a phone call I immediately obliged even though admittedly it didn't go well with me crying so hard he couldn't even make sense of me. I had no reply since even acknowledging the amnio or anything that was happening. I was ok with this at first as in my upset state misread it as them not pushing me to talk about it and just giving me space, but for him to then send this letter without checking if I'm ok or if my baby is ok just seems so insensitive. I've had some issues with my manager this pregnancy but that was a separate thread and had been sorted with HR.

Judystilldreamsofhorses Wed 24-Apr-19 21:20:10

OP, I hope you get good news about your scan.

In my work we are supposed to make contact each day of illness, but email is fine - I’m a lecturer, so would email in with instructions for my students if someone was covering classes. If signed off then it’s presumably different (never have been), and I have emailed my manager late afternoon to say I wouldn’t be in the next day due to an ongoing illness, like tonsillitis. I suspect your company is just following a procedure, because from their side it looks like you have gone AWOL, but I also suspect you will be treated sympathetically.

Newyearbollocks Wed 24-Apr-19 21:21:15

I'm not deciding what is right Policy wise. What I'm saying is. She HAS contacted work through all Avenues. Her boss hasn't replied to any bar one. Your management has an obligation to acknowledge your attempts to get in touch. If he had done this, she probably would have done something sooner. A disciplinary in less than a week after three lots of contact?
Seriously get of your high horse!

LetsDialDownTheIanPaisley Wed 24-Apr-19 21:22:00

It probably would have been fine if you had booked annual leave rather than doing sick days.

bebeboeuf Wed 24-Apr-19 21:22:59

I didn’t realise some work places were so strict about these things.
In situations like this I would expect an employer to be more sympathetic

Mine were in the same situation.
Sometimes I’ve been having breakdowns and just been unable to come in, unable to call.
It’s times like these where I really do feel lucky to have such caring understanding bosses

No one should feel like forcing themselves to explain when something is so recently sensitive. And not everyone has a DP or DH to do it for them

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