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Accused of bullying, very distressed

(9 Posts)
stowsettler Fri 02-Nov-12 12:13:28

I'm a general manager of a fairly small company, and it was brought to my attention yesterday that someone has accused me of bullying. This was told in confidence to one of the business directors, and therefore I'm not technically supposed to know about this.
I'm absolutely devastated by this, and can only think of one incident which could have been the cause of the accusation. I have asked the accuser on a number of occasions to come and see me to do a return to work interview after they were sick a few weeks ago. On 2 or 3 occasions they have said they'd come and see me but did not do so. The other day I sent them a message asking them to do so as a matter of urgency as it is now 2 weeks since they were sick.
I barely see this person and so have absolutely no idea if there is any other incidence they could be referring to.
I now feel bullied myself, by having what I believe is an unfair accusation levelled at me for simply doing my job. I'm 25 weeks pregnant, feeling very vulnerable and I don't feel that I'm being supported by the business directors in this matter. I appreciate that they have to appear to be impartial but the accuser is a well-known troublemaker who has a history of throwing their toys out of the pram as soon as things do not go their way.
The stress is obviously doing me no good at all but I'm not the sort of person who would just go off on the sick, pregnant or not.
I still have the return to work interview hanging over my head and can't bring myself to ask them once again to come and see me. In the circumstances I'd really like one of the directors to do this instead of me.
I have no idea what will happen but am very worried about the whole situation. Does anyone have any advice at all? Help!

Iamnotamindreader Fri 02-Nov-12 13:19:31

Instead of trying ot avoid the interview completely could you ask someone to sit in on it as an independant witness to events.
If this is presented to the accuser as for their protection as well it may go someway to diffusing the situation for you both.

Leftwingharpie Sat 03-Nov-12 08:26:39

Presumably someone is trying to resolve this informally at the moment behind the scenes - which is a good plan - but it sounds like you are being kept almost entirely in the dark about what's going on. Has anyone actually said whether you should pursue the back to work interview in the meantime? It would be nice to know so you don't put your foot in it.

It's not clear from your OP how you were told about the accusation. Has someone tipped you off who shouldn't have, or were you informally told through the proper channels albeit in confidence? If the former, would you be able to approach the directors and let them know you know? If not, could you approach them to mention you have an employee who is refusing to obey a reasonable management instruction and comply with the company's sickness absence policy and see what they say?

If it was the directors who told you, or if they acknowledge the issue, I'd ask for some direction on whether they want you to chase the back to work meeting or just sit tight - and what timetable has been fixed to resolve this informally.

If all you have done to this person is repeatedly instruct them to attend a back to work meeting, and you treat or would treat everyone the same after sickness absence, then I don't see how there can be anything to a bullying allegation. Clearly it's come at a difficult time for you. Make sure you have your extra thick managerial skin suit on, be confident and professional and keep reminding yourself that unfortunately this shit goes with the territory.

In terms of informal resolution, I agree with iamnotamindreader that having someone else sit in with you and perhaps also allowing the person to be accompanied at the meeting might be enough to grease the rails. If not, they need to put their complaint in writing so that it can be properly investigated and dealt with, or else they need to jump into line and attend the meeting like everyone else has to.

pippop1 Sat 03-Nov-12 15:34:10

Do you have written evidence that you have asked the accurser to carry out the return to work interview with her/him or have you only asked them verbally?

Can you write a perfectly polite email asking them to attend giving a choice of days or times?

It might be useful in the future as evidence.

stowsettler Mon 05-Nov-12 09:18:18

Thank you for your replies. Quick update - yes I do have written evidence, and I also wrote a statement last week to ensure that I got everything down on paper whilst it was still fresh in my mind.
I was told informally by the directors; they are trying to establish whether the person wants to make a formal complaint, or whether he was just having a 'hissy fit'. Until this has been decided I can't officially know about the accusation.
In the meantime - he has phoned in sick yet again today. Most of us suspect that he will not be in again at all, which does leave us very short-handed but frankly I won't be sorry never to have to look at him again.
I agree - if he does show his face again I will not be carrying out the return to work interviews alone. I think it best that I don't have any 1-2-1 dealings with this person again.
I feel much better about it today. Have spoken to 2 directors this morning who were off last week and they are disgusted with him, and know full well that it is nothing but spite. I suspect now that his conduct has been so appalling in other ways (many, many long stories that I wasn't initially aware of) that this will go nowhere, thankfully.
Thanks again for your reassurances. I will get that managerial thick skin back on! Only 9 more weeks in work!

Autumnchill Mon 05-Nov-12 12:42:32

Glad to see a more positive post today but it must have been a crap weekend worrying about it.

Keep the record keeping up as you never know if it might come up again as it looks as if they are looking for a reason to throw mud to deflect from their sickness record.

stowsettler Fri 23-Nov-12 09:46:44

Just wanted to post the latest - the allegations have been officially dropped (i.e. he's just realised that he hasn't got a leg to stand on and is now running scared because other, more responsible people, have picked up on his accusations and were trying to address them, quite correctly).

I'm to expect a letter of apology apparently (!) - yeah right, I won't hold my breath. In the meantime he's been off sick all week again and is apparently not coming back at all. This could well ruin his career as he is in the middle of his training. I can't get over how stupid he is.

Autumnchill Fri 23-Nov-12 13:25:12

Excellent result. So annoying though that you get dragged into politics like this.

Wishfulmakeupping Fri 23-Nov-12 13:32:13

Good news, I was accused of bullying by 2 members of the team during a very vulnerable time for me I do wonder what goes on in these people's heads it seems it's always the same people pointing the finger at different members of staff- very sad

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