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Can I ask my doctor for a sick note for work related stress?

(36 Posts)
Chels182 Sun 14-Jul-19 23:37:37

Hello, this is my first time posting but I could really use some advice as I have never had a sick note for anything other than being physically ill.

I have been seriously run down and stressed with work recently. I work at a private nursery. However, I have had a few days off here and there for various reasons which is where my stress has started, 1 day when i started in March for a viral illness which happens so easily when you start at a new nursery you get ill straight away.
I then moved to another location and got sick again, i had a cough for weeks and was not getting any better I was getting worse, so i got a sick note for over a week from my GP.
Then the week I came back, my grandmother passed away. I took a week and 2 days off to go back home and be with my family. This was in may and I had not been sick since or had any other time off, I was stressing enough being off for my nan aswell as being off ill, thinking I would have been in "trouble".
Then around 2 weeks ago I came down with the Flu on the Wednesday, still went to work on Thursday when i really shouldn't have but phoned in sick on the Friday and the following Monday.

Our protocol for phoning in sick is to phone the manager, then the nursery owner. I understand she wants to cut down on phoning in sick for the sake of it, but it makes you feel like you aren't trusted as a staff member. When i phoned, her reply was "Haven't you been off loads lately" with the last time being off was a month and a half before for my nan's funeral. I was absolutely fuming that someone could be so cold, and it's not the first instance that she has give this attitude to someone it's happened multiple times.
When i came back there was a letter going around saying "people should not phone in sick when they are not sick, if they do from now on this will be dealt with accordingly and straight for disciplinary" so she obviously did not believe I was even ill. I have been stressing looking for another job, even got an interview for something else but couldn't attend as i got declined the time away from work.
The work load asked is unreal and I am constantly anxious about going in to work that i just cannot go in tomorrow, I had a weeks holiday last week that i had to take I haven't slept or eating the past few days even thinking about going back and my anxiety has gotten 10x worse than what it already was.

Can I ask my GP for a sick note for work related stress? can he say no to giving me one? What would I even say to work tomorrow over the phone?

daisychain01 Mon 15-Jul-19 05:22:46

You can ask your GP for a Fitnote for work related stress but be mindful that you're taking off lots of days here and there which won't make your sickness record look good if you're trying to find new employment. You need to decide if you are really suffering from stress or if you just don't like your job. There's a difference.

Then around 2 weeks ago I came down with the Flu on the Wednesday, still went to work on Thursday when i really shouldn't have but phoned in sick on the Friday and the following Monday.

Sorry to question this but if you had flu, you wouldn't have been able to get up from bed. Flu is not a common cold.

timeandtimeagain42 Mon 15-Jul-19 07:05:59

Well yes you probably could BUT you've taken an awful lot of time off for bits and bobs, in a short period of time. This will look bad on your work record and affect your ability to progress and to get other jobs. I think in working life you do, to a certain extent, have to try to power through and not give in to every little thing.
I'm sorry you feel down, work related stress is awful and most people have been there. But before you take the fitnote route I'd advise you to try to sort things out in work and to prove that you're a good worker by not taking any more time off.

Chels182 Mon 15-Jul-19 07:35:22

@daisychain01 I am stressed to the point I am not sleeping at all, getting around 2-3 hours max at night, 0 motivation throughout the day. I have had panic attacks and barely been eating. People have been telling me I look it without even having to ask. No i don’t like my place of work, but this stress is also not worth it, i cannot handle it at all.

Yes it was the flu.. I came down with it wednesday/thursday with a fever and chills aches etc, by the time i got home thursday I was stuck in bed right til Tuesday

@timeandtimeagain42 That’s the thing I have tried to sort things out, I’ve spoke to my manager about how i feel and nothing came of it at all. I know it’s going to look bad but the panic attacks etc just are not worth it atm but thank you.

MoreSlidingDoors Mon 15-Jul-19 07:43:16

You started in March? I’d say do what you need to for your health, but be aware that you have no employment rights against dismissal for any (non-discriminatory) reason.

timeandtimeagain42 Mon 15-Jul-19 07:46:24

I’ve spoke to my manager about how i feel

Have you listened to how she/he feels though and agreed some changes to make? Sorry to seem a bit harsh but the cause of this situation is taking a lot of little bits of time of and therefore causing disruption and work stress for others. It may not feel like it right now but honestly, accepting that your absence has impacted the team then making positive changes may well boost your confidence and make you feel better far more than taking more time off.
Like I say, I have been there. New boss, I loathed her, worried myself sick every tight, wanted to call in sick every morning. Until I realised that the only person who could truly resolve things was me. We have a positive working relationship now. Things are much better and I'm glad that I don't have a bout of long term stress-related sickness on my record.

Ilikewinter Mon 15-Jul-19 07:50:49

How long have you been in your new job, are you still in a probationary period? , if you are you may find they let you go due to your level of absences anyway.

If you are permanent and do get a sicknote I would spend that time trying to find a new job, just bear in mind that new employers often ask about absence levels when they request a reference.

NaturalBornWoman Mon 15-Jul-19 07:53:42

You've been off loads and I think that the fact you took over a week for the death of a grandparent is telling, especially when you'd already had time off sick. I think of workplace stress as something which is being caused by an issue in the workplace which the employer could address, but you are stressed because your employer is quite naturally not happy about your excessive sick time. I think that's more about a problem with you rather than the workplace culture. It may not be the right environment for you, but any employer would be unhappy with that level of absence and would be expecting an improvement.

LoubyLou1234 Mon 15-Jul-19 08:03:37

I have history of working in nurseries 15 years ago. They don't like people being off obviously because of ratios and cover. Do you get paid ( I didn't get sick pay)
However you have had a lot of time off since you started in a short amount of time in my eyes. Yes you do get Ill from working with children but it gets better as you become immune to their lovely germs! I'm in health care now with children still and I'm sometimes only off once every couple of years.

If you are off sick again please be aware that if you ask for a reference for a new job this all could be included. The stress you state isn't workplace stress as such it's more you are under stress because of you taking so much time off causing issues with management which is your own doing.

LIZS Mon 15-Jul-19 08:04:29

I think with that absence record it is likely they will be looking to let you go, as you only have a few months's service. Unless you were very close to your gm or she lived some distance away taking over a week would be unusual ( there will be a bereavement policy to cover this). In an organisation which has strict ratios to maintain it would be difficult to manage such absences, maybe they need you to notify 2 people to arrange cover. if you do get signed off will you be paid?

niceupthedanceagain Mon 15-Jul-19 08:09:42

In my place of work, ten days or above sick annually triggers disciplinary procedures. Could you look for a less stressful job?

FixItUpChappie Mon 15-Jul-19 08:24:35

You are a brand new employee who has been away a huge amount in only a handful of months - extended sick time, bereavement, holidays - you even tried to get time off for an interview....and now already seeking a stress leave.

I would be very concerned if I was your manager - can you really not see why?

tomatoesandstew Mon 15-Jul-19 08:27:17

I think if you get signed off it is likely to be for the impact of your stress on you - e.g. is it causing you physical symptoms, anxiety, insomnia.

Your work don't sound terrible supportive full stop. There is some information from Mind here about mental health and DDA. It may be helpful to speak to them in general for advice on how to take care of yourself especially if you are working for an unsupportive company. You may want to consider joining a union too. Your work has to show its been reasonable and supportive. They can't necessarily just start disciplining people asap. They would have to show they had followed a due process.

I'm sorry you're having such a rubbish time.

MoreSlidingDoors Mon 15-Jul-19 08:29:25

How long have you been in your new job, are you still in a probationary period? , if you are you may find they let you go due to your level of absences anyway.

Probation is a red herring. Legal rights against unfair dismissal don’t kick in for 2 years for anyone.

MoreSlidingDoors Mon 15-Jul-19 08:30:34

Your work has to show its been reasonable and supportive. They can't necessarily just start disciplining people asap. They would have to show they had followed a due process.

No they don’t. You clearly don’t have a clue about employment law (and the DDA hasn’t existed for years).

Chels182 Mon 15-Jul-19 08:31:07

It’s more than just issues with me being off ill that have made me stressed. The pressure that is put on all of the staff is excessive. I know this comes with the job but the owners and management are more for profit and reputation and do not treat staff well and it’s throughout the entire nursery a lot of staff feel this way it is not just me. There has been so many situations that are made to feel like our fault or we are told we arent making enough effort in the staff fb page to post ideas and activities... simple stuff like that they are nit picking at when we have assessments and yearly checks and parent evenings to sort.

I have spoke to my room leader and she knows how much it is impacting me and the change in me since i started and she understands i need time off. I have been applying and applying for jobs im just waiting to hear back.

@NaturalBornWoman the reason for over a week off is that i dont live near my family I have to fly home. It was sudden and I was close to her and used to live with her before i moved here.

@LoubyLou1234 Oh yes I understand it’s normal to get sick and our immune systems adapt! mine is awful but i have powered through with a lot. My manager sat and discussed my absences with me and explained she wouldnt be taking it further and she did understand how I was feeling but when I asked what is there I can do about how im feeling she just shrugged..

Namechangeforthiscancershit Mon 15-Jul-19 08:33:03

You will find it so much easier to get another job if you are working. If they let you go now it will be much, much harder. I guess the sicknote will trigger that?

What about where you were before? Is it somewhere you can go back?

Chels182 Mon 15-Jul-19 08:36:23

@FixItUpChappie Of course i understand it’s stressful and looks bad on my manager?
I did not ask for a family member to pass away?

I also did not want to take a holiday, but we have to take 2 summer weeks and I had 1 left which I had not used and needed to be so she give me a week that i could. I don’t like being off work but im going to put my mental health first.

@tomatoesandstew Thank you I will look at this!

Chels182 Mon 15-Jul-19 08:37:58

@Namechangeforthiscancershit I could go back if the worst happens, but I have an interview at the end of the week and I am hoping I get that one.

FixItUpChappie Mon 15-Jul-19 08:39:02

* Your work don't sound terrible supportive full stop*

I don't see how your getting that. The employer required a consistent steady employee for a position with generally understood hours and ratios to meet. They've hired someone who, as with any new employee, hasn't proved themselves yet and who's first months have been plagued by extensive absence. If I had been away that much for illness/bereavement I would have held off on taking holiday for example. If the OP wants this job, I would recommend she take it upon herself to acknowledge the issue with the manager and discuss openly that these were out of the ordinary circumstances, not a sign of how much absence there is going to be moving forward.

FixItUpChappie Mon 15-Jul-19 08:42:56

We cross posted OP - I see you say you had to take the holiday time. You still might head things off at the pass and have a frank discussion with your manager - it might settle things long enough for you to find something else.

Chels182 Mon 15-Jul-19 08:44:52

@FixItUpChappie I have talked through these absences with my manager. This isn’t something that has happened to me before.

Like I said i couldnt hold off on the holiday i was told to use it.

EyesOpenWide Mon 15-Jul-19 08:57:01

You’ve had 4 periods of sickness/absence since March.

That’s an awful lot.

This doesn’t look good to your current employer and may completely put a new employer off when they ask for a reference - honestly, I would be giving serious thought to offering you a job with that track record, you’d have to be exceptional compared to the other candidates for me to ignore that sick record.

If you’ve got lots of interviews already lined up then try and stay in work and keep your fingers crossed that you get another job soon.

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Mon 15-Jul-19 09:02:15

In your situation, I would accept that you have had a significant amount of absence - I make it a minimum of three weeks plus the holiday and you've only been working there since March. You can see that to them as employers, you do not look reliable.

Them not being good employers, in your opinion, is a different matter. They may not be, objectively, but your absence rate would trigger alarm bells for any employer, the best ones included, and in some work places I'm sure disciplinary action would already have been begun. If you don't want to work for them any more, you need to start looking for other jobs, but I would not take yet more time off if you need them to write you a reference.

Chels182 Mon 15-Jul-19 09:55:36

I understand and will deal with the consequences as and when.
I’ve been to the doctors and been prescribed medication for depression and 2 weeks off which I actually hadn’t got round to asking for yet he suggested it to me and was so helpful.
I will continue job hunting in the mean time and attend the interview that I have said.

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