Help - off work with stress and greviance.

(12 Posts)
Blueberry001 Tue 11-Sep-18 15:29:09

Hi all,

New here but looking for some advice, I won’t go into too much detail that will give me away but in a nut shell,

I was employed by X company in 2010 in role A, in 2014 my role change to a new role B in a new team but same department. I did not receive an updated job contract, objectives etc. Role B then in early 2015 changed to new role C with management responsibility of a team again no new contract/objectives.

Role C was like doing two jobs, my old role B and new role C and was increasingly stressful and unmanageable. I raised these issues with my line manage repeatedly and was ignored entirely (there is email evidence in support).

I then had a very very challenging week where I was left to deal with a very sensitive issue on my own with a team member that I am not qualified to do. I then took a day annual leave (already pre planned and booked) only to be contacted on my personal mobile about a work related issues, upon my return to the office I then had a very tricky day, which resulted in me having to catch up the next day and resulted in a breakdown and I was signed off sick by GP the following day due to the state I was in.

On the first day off sick I made attempts to divert urgent work, and inform the other managers I was off and not contactable. I then received communication which called me unprofessional.

I was signed off under work related stress and anxiety and have been now for a long period of time, prescribed anti depressants and have been attending CBT and anxiety therapy.

I logged a grievance with our HR under their lack of management towards me and ignorance over my rising Work levels and stress, whilst that was investigated, I saw OH about 8 weeks in, (after informing my HR I had not been referred) - their advice was I could not consider a return until the grievance was resolved and even then it should be in a new role with a new manager.

The first grievance resulted in an appeal, and it is still on going as I believe it was unsuitably handled in that irrelevant information was used in what appeared to be a smear campaign against me (I must add that have a perfect employment record, with no disciplinary concerns or discussions around my performance or behaviour in any respects) the smear campaign was not supported with any evidence either.

I feel like I am constantly chasing them for an update, I have had no welfare meetings or discussions in months and I am just sat at home waiting with bated breathe.

Recently a role came up in another office which I emailed to advise this a job I could do and could I be considered, I interveiwed for it but have now been told they have changed that role spec and it is not suitable for me?

Where do I stand? I haven’t had the grievance outcome, I haven’t received any updates in months, and the OH report is now completely out of date. If the next OH report says a new role must be considered under a new manager still (which I suspect it will) is it my responsibility to find a new role out of the available vacancies or is it for them to consider me suitable out of what is available?

I stress I cannot go back to my old role after what has happened, if I give too much information I’ll be outed so I’m sorry I cannot divulge further.

If you got this far, thank you.

OP’s posts: |
Lucy001 Wed 12-Sep-18 18:02:37

Doing the best I can on this information, but....

OH can recommend anything they like, but they only provide the employer with advice. The employer can ignore that advice for any reason they want. That may, at times, be a stupid decision on their part, but being stupid isn't de facto against the law! In your case, based just on what you've said here, I think that if they wish to ignore it they might just be safe to do so. Not guaranteed of course, because it's hard to advise on complex situations without knowing the full story.

But on a very basic level, the employer isn't required to find you any other job in law. You have a job, that's your job, and if you don't like it find another one is the bottom line of most employment law. You are quite wrong that you don't have a contract- it may not all be formally in writing, but you have one. And your job description in that situation is "what the job requires". I know that's not very helpful, but I can't really explain it easily in a short piece of text - basically, these days everyone is having to do more with less, and your job is the job Yog are doing and expected to do. That isn't to say that you aren't right about the workload being unrealistic. But you can't prove that easily because there's no objective, scientific way of proving what "too much work" looks like.

To be blunt, and I was trying to avoid saying this, but the argument can be that you are just too weak / inexperienced/ incapable of doing your job and they made a mistake trusting you with it so really it's time for you to get your act together or go. There. Blunt. And I'm definitely not saying that about you. But the employer can. That's the point. They can say this is you that is the problem, not the job. And there is no tribunal case to be had, no law to quote, that says that being overworked is against the law

There is some basis of argument around duty of care and health and safety. But this is just that horrible grey area because it still comes down to you proving that the problem lies with them and not with you being unable to do the job. Going down that route is a personal injury claim - and even harder to prove.

Honestly? If you want another job, with them or with another employer then it is down to you to find one. Because I wouldn't want to recommend trying a legal route with all this. It's too much of grey areas.

I may be entirely wrong about this, but in my experience, if you have been off for months, I doubt they want you back. And I doubt they'll take you back. They can sit around leaving you on the sick forever. They don't have to do anything. Sooner or later you won't be able to sit there any longer - you'll quit. You'll have to.

And after all this time, even if you moved to another job, how would you trust them? The amount of time this has been going on - whether it's your or them who are right - how could you not be looking over your shoulder for a knife? If they really wanted got back and working, you'd be back by now. No welfare meetings? No contact? Months to deal with a grievance? They're telling you the future. You just aren't listening.

I suggest you start thinking what you'd take to leave and make them an offer.


DianaT1969 Wed 12-Sep-18 18:09:07

Are you still receiving full pay OP? If you are, I would look around for another job with a different company and take your time getting it right. Not a management, or stressful role.

Bluntness100 Wed 12-Sep-18 18:16:29

Ok seems you were not capable of doing the new role. Whether this was your fault or theirs, or both is to be seen. Have they now someone else doing it?

I would agree with the poster that if you are unable to do your job, then no they don't have to give you another role. They could move to capability termination. As in you are not capable of doing your job.

Have you spoken to Acas or an employment solicitor? I think you need someone you can talk to openly for advice.

How long have you been off sick for?

Blueberry001 Wed 12-Sep-18 19:58:51

Hi all

Thanks for your replies, please don’t apologise at all I completely appreciate how it sounds on text! Especially with hardly information to go from.

To give a bit more to help, with the job I was asked to do at first was perfectly reasonable and well within my remit and I was doing a good job (based on reviews anyway!) and always had good feedback.

Then more work got added to my pile, and more responsibilities without any thought for what I was currently doing. I tried to solider on but of course couldn’t keep afloat so raised this with my line manager, offering suggestions such as an assistant to help me and recruiting more resource etc all to no avail, we did our best but couldn’t cope with the amount of work coming in. I raised it in meetings and via email but was effectively ignored, I.e nothing was done to deal with my workload or look into what could be done. To put it in perspective when I went off sick, 7 people were required to cover my job - I know this from early welfare meetings where it was discussed. I think the job I am/was capable of but just not the amount of that makes more sense?

I think the lack of welfare meetings may now be because the greivance takes priority so they aren’t considering my return to work until that has been dealt with?

That’s really good to know re OH, that they can only take the report as guidance rather than deal with it as a ‘do what it says guide’.

Absolutely right with the advice of would I even want to go back there? My heart says no but sadly my head says yes, OH and I want to move house, start a family all that jazz, all these things that require a stable job for a mortgage company etc So it really is catch 22 for me right now. sad

I’ve never ever dealt with stress/anxiety before and this has just really knocked my confidence all over:

OP’s posts: |
Bluntness100 Wed 12-Sep-18 20:03:01

Op, how long have you been off? In your op it reads like since 2015...

Blueberry001 Wed 12-Sep-18 21:27:24

sorry it does doesn’t it? Since April, it took me a long time to deal with my symptoms and how I was feeling. I do now feel like I am ready to consider my options of going back or another employment option.

OP’s posts: |
Bluntness100 Wed 12-Sep-18 21:37:39

Ok that's not too long. I take back what I said about capability termination, we wouldn't move to it after five months, but I think the grievance needs to be dealt with here first.

I do think though there is a risk you will be seen as a difficult employee who is hard to place. Shitty but there it is. I'm not sure why oh report is out of date if it was only a few weeks ago though?

Why don't you request a meeting?

Blueberry001 Wed 12-Sep-18 21:51:31

I don’t think they could consider capability in this capacity as I fulfilled all requirements prior to going off in a sense, and had no performance management issues raised prior (nothing not even a sniff!).

Given the role was extended past what I was employed to do, with no consideration to resource etc - even with my attempts to rectify it despite not being in control of budget or that decision making side of it.

OP’s posts: |
Lucy001 Thu 13-Sep-18 11:58:51

Sorry, but taking back the comment on capability is not correct. Many employers would start thinking about a dismissal on capability grounds at six months, and your are almost there. Not a few would have started already. Five months off work on sick leave is a very long time.

I fear you don't understand what capability means. In this case you are incapable of doing your job because you are off sick. That's the construction. It is not the same thing as competence, although it could be argued that you are handing them the cause to question your competence too, since you are off sick because you are saying you can't do your job!

I understand that you say that there is too much work and you can't handle it. I'm sure you are right. What you are failing to get is that the law doesn't cover "too much work". That's your opinion. Even if everyone else in the office was off sick for the same reason, that proves nothing, but more importantly it doesn't make a case of anything. In law you are expected to do the job, and if you can't or don't like the job, then you get another one. The law won't tell the emptier that there's too much work to handle, so they need to redesign the job. That's a business matter and the law doesn't dictate business decisions.

So your circumstances come down to what the employer is willing to do about this. And all indications from what you have said is that they aren't willing to do much. If they were, you wouldn't have been off for five months. In my experience, if an employer accepts that things need to change, that happens very quickly. If there is a need for more staff, five months is enough time to recruit more staff. If there is a decision to redeploy someone, then five months is enough time to arrange that if they are going to do it. Five months is more than enough time to deal with a grievance - if they agreed with you then it takes ten minutes to do that and start doing something about it. Having a grievance in had nothing to do with scheduling welfare meetings - someone off work for five months should have regular contract for their own welfare.

There is no evidence in anything that you are saying that your employer cares a fig about you. There is certainly no evidence that they want you back. And they couldn't care less about your desire for a house and a family. I'd love to be wrong about this, but I'm pretty sure I'm not - they are waiting for you to give up. You either go back to work and shut up, get another job, or quit. They need do nothing but wait for one of these things to happen.

So my question to you is, what are you prepared to do? Because legally your position is weak, but equally, you can sit at home until sick pay runs out and then starve as far as they are concerned! Sorry about being harsh about that, but you really do have to face up to some facts. Hanging on to a job for personal reasons I understand. But that has consequences, and one of those may very well be that you go back to work and suck it up and learn how to deal. I'm not by any means criticising you in saying that. Just stating a fact. People do get overworked and they sometimes have to find coping strategies.

If that isn't something you can do, then you need to get some spunk, stop waiting for an employer who clearly doesn't care about you to do something and take the fight to them. Unfortunately, it isn't much of a fight legally, but that doesn't mean you can't fight. But you have to decide what you are fighting for. Leave with a settlement and a reference? Another role and if not a settlement and reference? Just cut your losses and get another job? Or something else?

Bluntness100 Thu 13-Sep-18 12:36:26

I think Lucy is making a fair point competency and capability are two different things

And although we would not move to capability termination with five months of sick, we also would not basically ignore the employee as your employer is doing.

Capability is about are you capable of doing the job. Right now the answer to that is no. Are you ever going to be capable of doing the job, the answer to that is also no. You will not consider doing it again. So they could move to capability termination.

They do not have to offer you another role. And arguably you accepted the roles you moved into, as opposed to staying in previous role or requesting redundancy.

In addition if someone else is doing the role, then it's arguably not the role that's the issue, I'm sorry. It seems they are not willing to accept wrong doing here. And the "smear campaign" would indicate they think the issue is you and not them.

I would also request a meeting with them to discuss your options for return to work.

The other option is you can consider constructive dismissal. That they made the role so unreasonable they were effectively forcing you out. But this won't force them to give you a new different job, and you don't want your old job back, so then that would at the most result in compensation, but it would be a very difficult fight to take.

I'd strongly suggest you request a meeting to get in there and understand the options they are willing to provide you with.

In the meantime if you need to work, I'd be applying for new jobs.

DianaT1969 Fri 14-Sep-18 06:08:57

Are you on full pay or statutory sick pay? Surely that affects how quickly you need to act?

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