Off sick with depression and boss wants to meet me

(25 Posts)
Chrysalismiss Wed 20-Feb-19 18:15:18

I’ve agreed to meet but I’m getting very anxious thinking about it.
I’ve been off for about 6 weeks and I’m really not doing well. Bursting into tears quite regularly and just generally feeling extremely low and anxious, not sleeping great and so on.
My boss has been calling me at home every other week just to tell me it’s really important to stay in touch. If I don’t answer he leaves a message but also calls back several times that day leaving a message each time and it makes me even more anxious. He keeps telling me I need to get my fit note in to HR as soon as the last one expires or my sick pay could be at risk but I told him I don’t get a new one until the date the last one expires, so that’s impossible. He knows I’m receiving treatment.
So, he has asked to meet for coffee to “touch base and see how I’m doing” and I’ve agrred to do this but I’m wondering what it will achieve? Is it standard procedure? We’ve not arranged this meeting yet but he’s suggested next week. I don’t want to talk about it with him sad

OP’s posts: |
TheoriginalLEM Wed 20-Feb-19 18:16:51

He's breaking the law. You are signed off sick he shouldn't be contacting you.

Whisky2014 Wed 20-Feb-19 18:17:51

Speak to HR. You do not have to do this. They can ask you to keep in touch but that does not mean your manager shpuld hound you every day. Let HR know! He will be adding to your stress.

Chrysalismiss Wed 20-Feb-19 18:21:32

Sorry, it’s weekly he’s calling me but he calls repeatedly if I don’t answer. Eventually I do but I am so stressed by it.
Is that the law about him contacting me? I’m afraid if I don’t accept his calls or meet him I’ll lose my job sad

OP’s posts: |
UtterlyDesperate Wed 20-Feb-19 18:23:30

At my work, the rules are that you have to have contact with your line manager every week - so it probably depends on your work place's policies.

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 20-Feb-19 18:26:02

It is good HR practice to keep in contact with staff off long term sick, it has been shown that contact regularly in a light manner reduces the duration of this type of sick leave. It is not against the law.

Bunnybigears Wed 20-Feb-19 18:27:04

My work did this when I was off with depression it actually really helped despite me dreading it. I went in and we had a chat and I cried a lot and he told me about his personal experience of depression and he gave me a number to call for free counselling paid for by the company which was a lot quicker than waiting for anything from the NHS.

UtterlyDesperate Wed 20-Feb-19 18:28:42

There's also a mandatory meeting after a fortnight to do a workplace stress assessment, and you're supposed to have informal meetings - like for a coffee - every month. I think the rationale is that it will be easier for you to go back to work when you are better if you are not stressed about going back after so long etc. You are sent to Occup Health after one month.

We get 6 months full pay and six months half pay but they are getting quicker about going for capability assessments according to union reps.

Worth keeping in with your boss, even though you aren't up to it - he may well recognise that when you meet, and report that back to HR.

Worth also contacting your union rep too, I think.

Nacreous Wed 20-Feb-19 18:29:04

Our work would be in touch if you weren't in work. But they would usually do something like email you to arrange a time to call, rather than call repeatedly.

If you were off long term sick they would aim to meet up with you for a coffee to catch up and come up with a long term plan for how to manage the back to work process. But I think you'd be free to do that and do all discussions by telephone.

KnopeforAmerica Wed 20-Feb-19 18:29:07

It's not against the law for him to contact you whilst off sick, but particularly with mental illness it should be done at your pace. Can you take a sympathetic friend with you who can answer questions /back you up if you get upset? If you feel he is pressuring you then contact HR. I work in HR and don't expect Dr's notes to arrive immediately the current one expires. I try to keep in regular (once a week or fortnight if I am busy that day) contact with people on long term sick unless they request otherwise because managers usually don't. It is important for the employer to be kept informed about likely return dates, reasonable adjustments etc. Also some people say they feel 'abandoned' if nobody from work bothers to keep in touch. As I said, it is down to what you are comfortable with.

ScorpiaForCatra Wed 20-Feb-19 18:29:19

You should still contact HR, he shouldn't be bombarding you with calls if you don't answer, it's almost harassment.

Tomtontom Wed 20-Feb-19 18:30:03

@TheoriginalLEM Which law do you suggest he is breaking?

Chrysalismiss Is your depression work related, and/ or is there anything your employer can do to help you return to work? It is good practice for them to keep in touch, perhaps you could agree an appropriate time for them to call?

Perty01234 Wed 20-Feb-19 18:30:58

He’s NOT breaking the law 🙈 it really depends on what your sickness policy is. Our stipulates weekly contact and that after a period of a week a home visit must be conducted by a line manager.
These are in our interest, our line manager make make occupational health referrals and also look and ways to get us back to work.
If it’s in your policy then he is just simply doing his iob, it could be reckless to have no contact as imagine if someone was struggling at home. No support system and work just left them too it? Imagine if something then happened?

Chrysalismiss Wed 20-Feb-19 18:31:38

Thanks everyone. I suppose I can see the logic there. My stomach is in knots thinking about it but I’ll just have to get on with it I suppose.

OP’s posts: |
Perty01234 Wed 20-Feb-19 18:31:50

Every other week isn’t bombarding either he just needs to know you are okay? They have a duty of care as your employer

ScreamingValenta Wed 20-Feb-19 18:32:06

It's normal where I work for people on long-term sickness absence to have a weekly call with their line manager. This would be at an agreed time so the colleague was prepared for it. I think it's generally regarded as good practice - your manager can't manage your absence effectively with no contact. Ultimately, your manager's role is to support you in returning to work.

Chrysalismiss Wed 20-Feb-19 18:32:35

True, Perty

OP’s posts: |
Boobiliboobiliboo Wed 20-Feb-19 18:33:48

He's breaking the law. You are signed off sick he shouldn't be contacting you.

WTAF? No he isn’t. It’s good practice to keep in touch with staff and most sickness absence policies require this sort of contact.

Justgivemesomepeace Wed 20-Feb-19 18:38:53

OP- you have an obligation to keep work informed of your situation and provide sick notes in a timely manner. If one expires and they don't have the next one they can stop pay and it's not fair of them to have to chase it up. That's your responsibility.
Your employer has a responsibility to support you and demonstrate this. If you went off sick for weeks on end and they didn't contact you it looks like they are unsupportive and makes it harder for you when you are ready to return.
The best way to manage it is to agree with your manager a level of contact you are comfortable with and speak with them.
It is standard procedure and good practice to keep in touch with employees who are off work and home visits, or meets for coffee are common place and standard procedure in many workplaces.
He shouldn't really keep trying over and over but he does have an obligation to keep in touch, as do you, and if you wont speak to him he's probably being a bit ham fisted. Maybe he could have written but then it all seems really formal. He may be wanting to refer you to Occupational Health for more support, discuss any support he can offer to aid your return to work, any support when you're back at work.
I know if youre anxious this can seem intimidating or overwhelming but it really is for the best to agree a level of contact, and keep in touch.
In my organisation HR wouldn't have a clue who you were and would refer you back to your manager so I'm not sure whether it would help to contact them. Just bite the bullet, speak to your manager and see what he wants He's probably just doing his best to help.
If you ignored my calls and didnt keeping touch in line with the policy, you would end up in a meeting on your return to discuss that, but we have a very clear process that everyone is made aware of as you go along.

Didyeeaye Wed 20-Feb-19 18:40:42

A weekly phone call to check in seems perfectly normal to me. As previous posts have said they have a duty of care to ensure you are ok, plus, its important to keep you in the loop so your return goes smoother.
My friend has been off work with stress for 3 months and her management don't give a toss. She is now taking out a grievance because of their negligence.

flashbac Wed 20-Feb-19 18:41:46

@TheoriginalLEM
You really shouldn't be talking crap like this especially to a poster who is unwell and needs genuine help. Armchair lawyer much.

OP you need to check your policies. Some policies say that company sick pay is curtailed if you don't keep in touch. Even if the policy doesn't say that it's good practice for an employer to keep in touch as part of their duty of care however they shouldn't be hounding you to come back too soon or anything like that. It should be more of a conversation to get an update on how you are and what's happening with your treatment.

MaverickSnoopy Wed 20-Feb-19 19:12:53

I know how you feel. Going back 11 years I was in the exact same boat. Signed off with depression and manager wanted to meet up. I really felt sick at the thought of it. Thankfully for me I was good friends with my manager. She handled it well but it was still hard. I later had a meeting with occupational health too.

They kept in regular touch 1) to help me get back to work, 2) as a duty of care to make sure I was ok and 3) so that it eased the transition of returning to work.

Personally speaking, aside from the depression itself, one of the hardest things is thinking about going back to work and wondering what they are thinking (management as well as colleagues) and if they are judging you. I wondered how on earth I would face everyone. Seeing my manager and staying in touch really helped. It helped me to believe that they weren't cross with me. Well after the meeting with my manager we arranged a phased return to work and that helped too.

It sounds like your manager doesn't have particularly gentle people skills at a time when you need a softly softly approach. From what you've said I think that (unless there's a backstory) he probably has good intentions, if not a little haphazard. I would urge you to go to the meeting and with an open mind, but that you should also make clear how unwell you are feeling and that you are finding the current method of communication difficult and try to agree a new communication method. I think you both need to be on the same page to help facilitate you get back to work, whenever that may be.

MrsPinkCock Wed 20-Feb-19 20:56:10

He's breaking the law. You are signed off sick he shouldn't be contacting you.

Utter tosh.

Your employer is entitled to maintain reasonable contact with you. Usually this is more structured, with a welfare meeting, home visit or similar. A coffee out isn’t usual but it isn’t unlawful either.

I was off work for 3 months and had a home visit after 6 weeks. It was a welfare visit and very supportive.

CherryPavlova Wed 20-Feb-19 21:03:03

Our HR advice for sickness likely to be long term is weekly ‘keep in touch’ calls and reminders to get sickness certification in place to prevent the additional hassle of pay anomalies.
I meet staff who have been long term sick. Not to hassle but to reassure and make the return easier. I do it over a coffee somewhere of their choosing. They might get anxious about idea of a meeting but usually are pleased they have. I would not do it when they were first off sick or before there were signs of being on the mend. Returning after a break is hard anyway. A step in between absence and office can be very helpful.

Sandieloo Wed 20-Feb-19 21:43:34

I suffered from depression for many years and can understand how you feel. There is nothing sinister about him wanting to see you, in fact you will probably feel better after a chat. Do some relaxation before you go and find a safe place in your head, lots of deep breaths and try to keep calm. Tell him how you feel and the effect it is having on you and you may be surprised with the help you can get from work. Just remember you are not alone and please take advantage of any help offered. I went on workshops, group sessions and one to ones and now I am so much better, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you never know your Boss may be holding the torch.
Good luck and be brave.

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