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Managin an employee who has been raped

(15 Posts)
RawShark Wed 12-Mar-14 20:31:38

This is probably not the right place for this but I just need some advice or just some positive thoughts.

I line manage a woman who was raped last week. I am also her friend. IN terms of the rape itself (as this is not what I am asking about but to set minds at rest) she has reported it to police, told family and is getting checked for STDs and is therefore about as well as can be expected.

She has asked me not to communicate this to others within the firm. I have told my boss that she is off (as of today 3.5 days and intending to come back tomorrow - I have said not to unless she is ready) as a result of a personal crisis. I could not tell him she was simply ill as I have had to spend some work time - 3.5 hours with her due to her emotional state in the immediate aftermath (could not leave her alone) before she told her family. HAve made this time up as am covering bits of her work that cannot be delayed . Have also left one hour early to sit with her while she gave her statement to police. Have told everyone else at work she is ill. He has responded with the statement that this unplanned absence does not look good in terms of the redundancy procedures shortly to kick off and I should be aware of this. This seems unfair to me. She has had previous issues with attendance last year (none in past 8 months) due to mental health issues which had been addressed through booking of holiday at certain recurring annual anniversaries. She is extremely good at her job.

I cannot tell him why she is off. I have looked him in the eyes and said that she has a very valid reason to be off work.

Any thoughts or advice please. I don't think I am confusing friend with employer in my head or hers. Not sure what he expects me to do with the information he has given me!

minipie Wed 12-Mar-14 21:08:10

Really difficult situation. The problem is that without any further information he may think "personal crisis" means something like a break up.

Perhaps in a few days or weeks time (ie not right now, but before the redundancy process starts) you could speak to your friend about the redundancy and ask her what, if anything, she would be happy for you to say. Maybe she would be happy for you to tell this man that she was "attacked" or was "the victim of a very serious crime" or something like that? Of course if she is not comfortable with giving him even that much information then that's her choice.

I have no legal knowledge in this area so hopefully someone who does will be along soon. My thoughts are with your friend.

RawShark Wed 12-Mar-14 21:26:25

Thanks minipie, good suggestions. Once someone says "rape" other descriptions go out the window , and i was rather on the spot

AgentProvocateur Wed 12-Mar-14 21:31:42

This is going to sound awful, but I'm not sure how you would take if into account for redundancy (presumably through the Bradford index?) You know that she has had that awful experience because she is your friend. You don't know if - God forbid - someone else has had an equally horrendous experience.

If you're public sector, and therefore have transparent processes, it may be dodgy to discount that absence, however valid the reason.

Technical Wed 12-Mar-14 21:52:31

I agree with Agent. If absence is going to be a factor in the redundancy process then it's likely that this absence would count against your friend even if everyone knew the reason. As Agent says, everyone has an excellent reason for their own absence.

Supporting your friend through a major crisis and managing the potential redundancy of an employee are completely different. The time you have spent with her so far has been as a friend IMO, it is above and beyond what would be expected or appropriate for an employer.

Your description of her history suggests she is someone who has a lot of personal crises, so don't think your explanation so far will have help and it's understandable that your boss is thinking it's one too many.

I don't think there's anything your can do. Support her personally but I would be wary of spending too much work time on that.

I'm very sorry this has happened to her but ultimately it's up to her to decide what to do. All you can do is be honest with her about how it's affecting her position at work and help her get the professional help and care she needs

RawShark Thu 13-Mar-14 06:24:12

She couldn't get hold of anyone else the first time I spent with her was as we arrived at work so not sure what else I could have done other than stay with her until she got hold of a family friend. Seriously as here employer should I have just sent her home to empty house which is opposite where the guy involved spends a lot of time? I am not going to spend anymore work time on it anyway.

When I say say friend I mean a work friend if you see what I mean, and have met three times outside work in the past two years. We are a small team, and would count the 12 of us friends, thogh as she works directly for me I am naturally going to spend more time with her than the people who report to someone else.

Gosh I never thought that the next time someone has something happen to them I will have to tell them to go back to work immediately :-(, especially as one of senior management has just had two months off due to severe mental health issue brought on by stress. She asked to come back to work today.

Sad old world, I am not looking forward to the next two months :-(

RawShark Thu 13-Mar-14 06:26:13

I mean to say say thanks for your comments, bit of an eye opener for me

AuditAngel Thu 13-Mar-14 06:41:29

It sounds to me that you have been really supportive.

Regarding the time off, that could be disregarded for the redundancy procedures, but it would probably require more disclosure than has been made to date. My firm went through redundancies about 9 months ago and one person in one of the pools (different pools for different departments as different skill sets) had been if sick for 2 weeks during the period under review for an operation/recovery time. This 2 week period was deducted from the absences as it was deemed "unusual".

FadBook Thu 13-Mar-14 06:44:23

From a different angle:

- I would be stating to her that you need to expand more to your boss, but focus on the duty of care you and the company have ie confidentiality. It may be she'd prefer a different explanation as pp said (violent attach). Your boss knowing will be better for her in the long run. Has she had 7 days off work yet? Is so, she'd be covered by a sick note.

- having dealt with a similar situation, the police encouraged the victim to lead as normal life as possible whilst awaiting trial eg back to work, either phased return to work. The company supported counselling appointments etc. as per above point, if your boss doesn't know, supporting her will be harder.

OverAndAbove Thu 13-Mar-14 06:45:43

Oh dear. It's more complicated because of the blurred line between line manager and friend, unfortunately. Looking ahead, I assume your friend will think she has "told work" because she has told her line manager. In which case, really she needs to know that you need to pass some information upwards - perhaps expressed as minipie suggests. On what basis is she "off" - have you marked it down as sickness absence, or something different? You say you've told people she is ill, but what's gone on her file so far? I think the best thing now is to approach things as a line manager - with your own responsibility to your own manager included - however hard that may be for the poor woman ( and you)

AuditAngel Thu 13-Mar-14 06:47:53

And no, you shouldn't have sent her home alone, responsible employers support their staff (as you did) even if sometimes they don't know the whole story.

I split up with my ex of 15 years, the following day I went in to deal with a deadline, I was on autopilot and looked like crap (swollen eyes from crying all night, no sleep...). I took one day off, told my boss I hadn't been ill, explained what had happened, offered to take it as holiday. He just said, you were too sick to be here.

I have now worked for him for 18 years he is supporting me in a sideways move at work (if they will increase the new jobs package to what I'm on already) that is going to cause him extra work, recruitment and a lot of hassle, but he said "I think it's the perfect job for you and I think it is the best way for you to achieve your ambitions. Sorting out replacing you is my problem, not yours"

RawShark Thu 13-Mar-14 06:57:40

Thanks guys. I was getting my knickers in a twist about being a poor employee but a good friend and why so much conflict between two things. Overandabove you are right and now the initial crisis is over I will be a manager . Freely admit I am a shit manager generally though grin

I haven't filled the form in for this week but hopefully she will be back at work today. She seemed to be more rational so will discuss wording with her. Think it will be easier than would have been last week

RawShark Thu 13-Mar-14 07:35:48

Thanks fafbook and audit angel . Useful comments and sounds like audit angel has a good manager there.
work has been very stabilising for her so hopefully she is back today.

i used to be an audit angel once. Part of the reason i am all for putting personal first - rams lid back on tin of worms......

GarthsUncle Thu 13-Mar-14 07:40:25

I think if she is prepared to share or to let you share that she was the victim of a crime that would be good.

WowserBowser Thu 13-Mar-14 07:53:59

I think you need to make her aware that it should be passed upwards. For her benefit if anything. She may need more time off if the police are involved.

Do you think there is any chance she will be signed off by a doctor?

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