Colleague accused me of misusing sick leave

(157 Posts)
LondonLupie Fri 17-Jan-20 02:05:05

I'm in my 7th week of a high risk pregnancy (lupus and kidney disease), and have had awful morning sickness, insomnia and anxiety for the last 2-3 weeks. I have passed out twice (once on the tube) and have barely kept a meal down. My GP has signed me off for 2 weeks and told me to rest, which I am doing. However, I received a very accusatory text from a more senior colleague today which reads:
"We don't know if you are on sick leave or 'holiday for time out' this week. If holiday, please ignore the below. If sick leave, then we're v uncomfortable that social media shows you out with friends for 2 reasons:
These are seen by colleagues (potentially professional damage for you and very awkward when they ask us). Also if you're well enough to go out, then why aren't you working?
We won't share this further and hope you receive this as friendly concern / a friendly alert."

Firstly, I don't have a Facebook account and secondly, I don't have any posts on my Instagram. The only pics I have shared via WhatsApp status and Instagram stories are pics of my newborn god daughter and her older brother - which have been sent to me by their mum! I have no idea how this indicates that I've been "out socialising" - when the furthest I've been all week is up the road to see my GP, and to the pharmacy to get my prescriptions. I was very upset to receive this and called her immediately to discuss. She refused to inform me who made these accusations and said she doesn't have social media so isn't aware of what I've shared. I then replied to her text later on and explained my concerns with these accusations, and advised her about my lack of social media presence. She replies with:

"I'm very sorry if my very careful message to you was not level in some way. Please don't send me any more angry messages.
I hope that you will come to see this not as accusation, but concern for you by people who care about you."

WTF??? Is she actually for real?!! So I replied with:

"I'm not angry, that's not the intention of my message. I'm very concerned and upset that you would send me such a text in the first place and not identify who "we" is. It didn't convey concern to me (or my close friends/partner who I have shared it with). I think it's best we put this matter to bed and limit our interactions to work related matters from now on. I don't need any additional negativity or stress in my life - especially now I'm pregnant.
Kindly refrain from sending any further unfounded, accusatory messages veiled as concern."

I don't even know how to move forward from this! We've always gotten along really well for the last 6 years, never any issues before this. Do I involve HR? Talk to her 1-2-1 when I return to work? Escalate it to our line manager? Now I'm dreading going back to work and having to sit next to her with all this unresolved (and unnecessary) drama hanging over us. Anyone else found themselves in a similar situation? Any advice please? 😕

OP’s posts: |
endofthelinefinally Fri 17-Jan-20 02:08:57

She is your colleague, not your manager/ boss? Your sick leave is none of her business.
I would keep any and all messages and speak to HR.
You really don't need any extra stress atm.

cabbageking Fri 17-Jan-20 02:17:16

Is it her job to know you are off sick and did you notify them?
She should go back to the person making the accusation and check her facts and deal with this appropriately.

I would therefore hang back whilst she checks her facts and wait for an apology whilst deciding what I want to do
Wait to see what materialises first would be my advice.

Mediumred Fri 17-Jan-20 02:17:22

I think your replies were v professional and dignified, don’t worry about going back to work, if anyone is worried it should be her, spreading ill-informed gossip and accusations without even seeing the posts herself.

Just concentrate on resting and try to put it out of your mind, maybe it will seem obvious when you get back to to work what to do but you hold all the cards, she should be crapping herself. And that bleating ‘please don’t send me any more angry messages’ when she has been stirring, it’s really pathetic.

woooooo Fri 17-Jan-20 02:27:22

Your reply was perfect and absolutely take this matter further with your line manager or HR. In no way did that message show concern - it was a thinly-veiled passive aggressive way of saying 'how dare you go out when on sick leave!'

If your sick note had stated 'flu' for example and then your boss had actually seen you cutting some shapes on the dance floor at the local discotheque, then fair doos, your boss could discuss that with you.

Tell your senior colleague to do one! Focus on you and your pregnancy. Hope you feel better soon.

MrMeSeeks Fri 17-Jan-20 02:30:53

She refused to inform me who made these accusations and said she doesn't have social media so isn't aware of what I've shared
I don’t understand, where exactly are the pics this person has supposedly seen?

gromberry Fri 17-Jan-20 02:37:10

This is bonkers. I'd definitely show it all to HR

BoomBoomsCousin Fri 17-Jan-20 02:59:14

You say she’s more senior but it doesn’t sound like she’s your manager or anywhere in your line of command (which is, presumably, why she didn’t know whether you were on sick leave or on holiday). If this is the case you should make a complaint about her to HR or through your manager, depending on your company’s policies. Her behaviour is outrageous.

Strawberryorangess Fri 17-Jan-20 03:21:30


Bumblesbumbles Fri 17-Jan-20 03:27:10

Agree- take it to HR. It’s unacceptable and you shouldn’t now feel stressed about returning. As others have said she has acted unprofessionally.

HannaYeah Fri 17-Jan-20 03:37:37

Straight to Line manager and HR. That’s awful!

2020BetterBeBetter Fri 17-Jan-20 03:39:36

I would ignore all future contact from her and raised grievance with your line manager and HR.

Casino218 Fri 17-Jan-20 03:45:29

You could get her on bullying an harassment. There's a clear process for sick leave and she's not part of that process.

OldieButaGoodie Fri 17-Jan-20 03:58:44

You're not in the wrong - and I would have spit chips for that "very careful message" (read passive-aggressive message) about online stuff which she admits she hasn't actually been privy to , which then turned into her being the victim!!

Would definitely take it further on my return to work - and I hope she's shitting herself now!

Can't deal with bitch office crap - and I've worked in an office for more years than I care to remember!

Coughy4u Fri 17-Jan-20 03:59:45

I read it as she heard gossip in the office and wanted to warn you like a good friend would.

YoTheGinPussyOfStMawesOnThigh Fri 17-Jan-20 04:27:42

This is not ‘friendly concern/a friendly alert’. You have been signed off as you are not well and have been told to rest. This type of text is achieving exactly the opposite. The old anonymous/fictitious person trick, one of the oldest ones in the book.

Save the texts, yours as well obviously and send them to your HR department asap with an accompanying message expressing your displeasure. Remind HR that as you are signed off you cannot enter the workplace as their insurance will not cover you if you have an accident. Then put the whole shit out of your mind, rest and recuperate.

Congratulations on your pregnancy. Onwards and upwards!

Creepster Fri 17-Jan-20 04:38:04

You need to contact either your union or your personnel department to discuss the unprofessional harassment you are experiencing.

FindAReasonToSmile Fri 17-Jan-20 05:09:47

These complaints are her issue not yours. Your biggest priority is to your own health and well being and that of your unborn child - who will be picking up the stress hormones you feel too. So, take deep breaths and calm down. What ever lies and stuff is being thrown at you now is insignificant compored to the importance of your health and that of your child. Focus on that first. Keep a record of everything this person does against you and later, once you are in a better position to do so, you will be able to get justice and throw it all right back at her. In the meantime, your biggest priority is you and your child's well being.

puds11 Fri 17-Jan-20 05:23:26

You aren’t supposed to contact people when they are on sick leave as it can be seen as trying to make them work. They then would have grounds for a case against the company.

I would take this to either HR or your line manager. The way she’s worded messages about you being angry suggests anterior motive.

2MapleMuffins Fri 17-Jan-20 05:35:03

HR or your senior manager.

Don't stuff around exchanging messages. Kick it up the line.

SleepWarrior Fri 17-Jan-20 05:43:32

Yeah, she's fooling nobody with that back and forth! She sounds like she think she's done a marvellous job with her concerned colleague 'carefully' worded message. Just looking out for you, wouldn't want you to make yourself look bad <wide eyed innocent expression>. The reality is it oozes passive aggressive bitchy faux-concern.

Anything that causes someone to be off work can really bring the worst out in some people - they assume that person is milking the system somehow and it makes them very cross (rightly so when someone actually is, but it's not their business to go accusing or getting involved). I think it's like road rage where apparently reasonable people lose all sense of perspective over a perceived injustice.

Whatever you do about it you can hold your head high when you do go in - she's behaved ridiculously, she should be the one feeling awkward and embarrassed and not sure what to say to you.

othervoicesotherrooms Fri 17-Jan-20 05:45:06

You need to discuss this with HR when you return.
Alert your manager so that they can be present in the meeting too.

Mummyoflittledragon Fri 17-Jan-20 05:55:58

I wouldn’t be leaving this. It’s bullying and needs to be addressed with your line manager and HR. You have a diagnosed autoimmune disease and are struggling in pregnancy. Would she have sent this message to you if you had had a heart attack or cancer?

Pollyhops Fri 17-Jan-20 06:10:51

You need to raise this with HR. That is so not acceptable.

TheCanterburyWhales Fri 17-Jan-20 06:11:27

Don't take part in any more texting with her.
Send an email marked urgent to your manager and copy in your HR dept.
Keep it factual. Don't tell them you don't have social media and haven't left the house. Just say you are on authorised, signed off by GP sick leave and have received this text. And you look forward to the correct disciplinary process being actioned.

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