Disciplinary for work related stress.(6 Posts)
I wrote a post on here a few days about how I'd been off for 2 months and had been signed back fit and work were ignoring me. I received a letter today saying they wanted me to attend a disciplinary hearing tomorrow regarding my absence.
Here's the thing; A few weeks before I was signed off sick, I started feeling anxious every day walking in to work, knowing I had a lot to do, and not wanting to let my team down.
It was a known fact throughout the team that I was the one who always had the most on, twice as much as I should have, which of course happens in a job.
However, I initially told my manager I suffer from Anxiety and Dissociation because of it, so bear with me, the job will be done, but some days I need some help, this had never been a problem with my previous manager that the new one was taking over from... because it had never really been an issue before.
I soon realised he wasn't taking it seriously and would make jokes about how everyone gets anxiety, I told him a few times it wasn't funny and he said oh I'm only messing around.
2 weeks before I was signed off, I spoke with our department director and my manager, I said look, I can't be going home and working all around the clock anymore, my mental health is suffering and so is my personal life, and I just need a break, I haven't had a days holiday since I've been here, to which my director said "stop working from home, it isn't the end of the world don't worry about it, and hey * why don't you give her a week off now while we're not busy?" I was like wow cool the director said I can take a week off, but then my applications for said week off were ignored.
I spoke with my manager AGAIN, a few days before I was signed off, I'd been sent home from work for being sick, which later turned out to be my anxiety telling me it was here to stay for good... while at home, albeit I hadn't been signed off, my manager kept asking me to send him stuff and email him and call him and I just wasn't up to it so I rang HR and I said look he's bothering me and won't stop calling me can you ask him to stop, eventually he messaged me and said STOP ALL WORK ACTIVITY UNTIL YOURE BETTER. I was like right, okay, I will.
When I went back in on the Monday, I started feeling sick again and I realised hey this is my anxiety, that's what this is, it wasn't a stomach bug, so I called the Dr and that's when he signed me off, I had been crying on the phone begging him for medication to make my anxiety stop, and he signed me off instead and told me to take a break.
I went back inside and I was in the kitchen and I saw one of our directors, a woman, and she saw me and saw I'd been crying and asked if I wanted to have a chat, I said yes, and I told her all about my anxiety and how my manager had been acting toward me and how I felt he didn't understand the implications of not helping me with my workload and she said some people in these old towns are stuck in the dark ages and are often ignorant toward mental illness and he might just be one of them, I said for things like that it may help if we worked with Sanctus, an organisation who offers counselling and workshops at work to better understand your employees and she wrote it down and said it sounded like a good idea.
Here's where I'm at...
I am facing a disciplinary for being off, despite telling numerous people I needed help before I got too stressed and that my manager wasn't taking my concerns seriously, if I had been better managed, I probably wouldn't have ended up so bad I had to stay off for 7 weeks.
Is this something I should be mentioning in said meeting, since I've known from day 1 that this was the problem and mentioned in my welfare meeting that my stress related problems started when my new manager did.
The problem here is that I've loved working for the company; it's challenging and keeps you on your toes and it's an area I've always wanted to work in, but ever since my new manager started, not only does he have no experience with the area we're working in, but he was useless, he was brought in because he was friends with the owner, so reporting him was never going to be easy, I knew they'd try and find a way to make out I was the problem.
Are you in a union?
Have you documented the conversations with the directors?
I was in your position and chose to leave and not follow a constructive dismissal case, but what are they giving you as the exact reason for the disciplinary?
Most companies have an absence management policy. You should be given a copy of this at the meeting - if not ask for one. Absence management is very different from performance management - it (should be) more focused on getting you back to work. You should always have a return to work interview on the day you return or soon after.
Have you had a return to work before? It will go something like this..
-You were absent from X to Y.
-You have had X absences in the last X years.
-What caused your absence (list symptoms)
-Do you consider yourself fit to return to work (if you are not sure say so)
-Do you consider your illness to be work related?
-How can the company support you to reduce your absence?
Then it will be a statement 'blah, blah, blah absence is really bad' (try not to take this to heart). They will calculate your % absence and look at a little flow diagram and say you have reached Level 3 (or whatever), therefore we are giving you a informal/verbal/ written warning about your absence, provided you have no further absences for X months this will be wiped off your record.
Because of the nature of your absence I would hope that you will also be given an occupational therapy assessment. If this does occur both the company (and yourself) will be bound to respect the recommendations or else they would be in clear breach of their duty of care and open to legal action. Note: if you breach them and start working crazy hours again off your own back then the company will be let off the hook so it is a bit of a double edged sword - but probably your best chance of getting better long term if you remain at this company.
Disclaimer - I am not legal or HR trained, but I did receive basic training on HR policies and employment law as part of my last job. I also ended up stressed and over worked. As heart breaking as it felt a the time, it was meant to be because I have ended up in a much better place. I have also learnt a whole load of lessons about being more assertive and not taking on too much.
Formally request an Occupational Health appointment. Explain things fully to the doctor/nurse who sees you. They will then make recommendations to your employer about you and your work. Look on the Citizens Advice website and also familiarize yourself with the absence management policy. If you are not in a union, then join one. They may not represent you as a new member but they will advise you.
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