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Advice needed PLEASE re: issue at work, signed off sick and asking for meeting

(37 Posts)
mykiddies Thu 28-May-09 22:19:03

At the moment I have been signed off sick by my dr. re stress related illness. This is due to an unbearable situation in work where I am being ignored/blanked by 2 work colleagues. I have been to see OM twice in the past saying this situation was unbearable and no-one should have to come and work in this atmosphere. The last occasion I went to see her she said we're going to have to get everyone together. I said I didn't see how this was going to solve anything and I just wanted moved away from them. She said she would speak to partner at the beginning of the following week, this did not happen. I went to see my dr. 2 days later and was signed off for 3 weeks. Today I received a letter asking me to meet OM/Partner 3 days before my sick line was up presumably at work to try and see if the matter can be discussed further and to see what can be done to assist me returning to work. As I was intending (if I feel well enough) to do so to go back when my line was up next week I rang OM to tell her this but that I didn't feel comfortable meeting at the office beforehand. She suggested meeting at a coffee place but I said if I am well enough to come back next week then can it not be discussed then. She said she would be off but that she would see if Partner could have a meeting with `Staff Partner' to discuss things and said what one of my options could be. My questions are:

1. I do not particularly like the staff partner. She is vicious. Why if it was ok before to just speak with OM do I all of a sudden have to meet with staff partner also. Is this a formal meeting? And if so why - I have not made a complaint and no-one has made one against me. Can I refuse?

Advice would be greatly appreciated.

I am so sorry now that I rang. I am sitting right now with knots in my stomach feeling sick and getting this letter has made everything come all back. Why couldn't they have just left it until I came back to work.

mykiddies Thu 28-May-09 22:49:57


llareggub Thu 28-May-09 23:22:07

Thing is, you've told them that you are off sick because of work-related issues. They have a duty of care towards you and therefore need to take all reasonable steps to deal with the situation.

There are 2 things here, and perhaps you need to get clarification about the reason for the meeting.

It is perfectly legitimate and reasonable for a company to instigate absence management procedures where someone has been off sick. Is this meeting to deal with your sickness absence in accordance with their procedures? If so, ask for a copy of the policy.

It is also possible that the meeting is being held because they are dealing with the issue as a potential grievance and they are taking steps to resolve your issues to allow a return to work.

I'm assuming that the staff partner is someone from HR? You say you haven't made it formal but you have spoken to a manager and requested that they do something.

In your shoes I'd make notes of everything that has happened and if you feel up to it, attend the meting with the staff partner as requested and go with an open mind. But first I'd ask for clarification on the purpose of the meeting. Could you do that and come back here and we can see if we can give some specific advice?

Tortington Thu 28-May-09 23:24:21

phone acas

angevee Fri 29-May-09 00:04:18

make sure that you have an agenda along with the clarification of the purpose of the meeting and take LOTS of notes. You can also get them to sign them as a true representation of what was said. (I had a meeting like this last week) Make sure that once you've received the agenda that you have time to prepare for the meeting and only attend if you feel up for it.
There is something called a mutual duty of respect as well as the employers duty of care which should be adheared to. Check out your dignity at work policy. Does your organisation subscribe to an employee assistance programme? If so use it.
If you are being blanked then this is bullying and should be treated as such.
good luck

tubeofcanesten Fri 29-May-09 00:17:41

Sorry you have going thru this, it is a form of bullying what they have done and they are prob very scared about you taking this further. It is v bad when a job makes you feel this way. Ring ACAS. best wishes.

tubeofcanesten Fri 29-May-09 00:18:26

P.S. please know you will get better too even if you dont feel like it at mo YOU WILL

mykiddies Fri 29-May-09 09:09:48

Thanks for your replies. A few points I would like to add are - I never said it was work related stress they assumed this due to my going to OM again before I was signed off. For all they know this could be part of the problem but it doesn't mean that it is the only stress I am going through.

It is very hard to get your point across as to what these girls are actually doing. I am not the only person who has gone and mentioned about this atmosphere. Numerous staff have left over the years and cited this as the reason though I am unaware that names were mentioned just bad atmosphere. They are very friendly with bosses/management and socialise with them on nights out organised within the firm and in their eyes they have done nothing wrong. My problem with meeting with partner (not staff partner) is that one of them actually works for this partner so I think her views on the matter are one sided.

An option has been to move me which I wanted but I am not sure if this is to be working by myself and I feel this might make me feel even more isolated. If this was suggested then what?

If they are treating it as a grievance should I not be taking someone in with me?

I feel atm that I am being forced back to work. I am thinking if I have reacted this way due to letter/meeting then I am not ready for it next week.

I actually feel worse now than when I was in work.

I hope you are there to reply back.

warthog Fri 29-May-09 09:21:20

can you phone her back and ask to meet with her for the coffee? say 'having given this some thought, would you mind if we met at starbucks on x date? i think it would be a good idea to sort this out before i come back.' x date being the date suggested in the letter. then you don't have to see partner.

ime, things are a lot worse when you're not there than when you're actually in the middle of it. so you being away, things are building up in your mind. i'm not surprised you're feeling worse. i used to feel worse when i was in an awful job.

i also think you need to start looking for another job. is that an option?

mykiddies Fri 29-May-09 09:29:28

Thanks for the reply. I would love another job but there aint any out there. I work part time and it looks like I would need to take a drop of around £3,000+ which would pay my mortgage. We wouldn't manage. I have actually come across a job with the same hours that was paying £5,000 less.

So you think what was suggested before was better?

You know what I actually could cry my eyes out that it has come to this. My husband is so concerned atm and says he just wants me to be happy. If I had have put up with this and stayed in work I probably wouldn't have felt so bad.

mykiddies Fri 29-May-09 09:36:21

I am also terribly annoyed that I have been made to feel this way when these girls are going about their business without a clue as to what they are actually doing. They have no idea.. They are so selfish and do not care one bit about anyone but themselves. Why is no-one saying to them you really can't treat people this way. At the same time I do not want anyone to be forced to have to speak to me. They are obviously not wanting to and tbh they are so hateful that I just want away from them.

warthog Fri 29-May-09 09:59:09

they sound truly awful.

people prefer not to deal with this sort of thing in case they get caught up in it. awful, but i'm sure people are very sympathetic towards you, but secretly feeling relieved that they don't have to deal with it. they'd rather keep their heads down. management should be doing something esp if they've lost lots of people because of these two.

just a thought, but if you have a mobile phone camera, or know someone who does, could you put it somewhere in the office and try to record them in the act?

what sort of things are they doing? completely ignoring you?

mykiddies Fri 29-May-09 10:42:34

Yes completely ignoring as if I'm not even there. That I don't exist. They are only friendly with partners and people who they want to mingle with. Totally awful people. Another girl works with us but is sick. She and I are friends. One of them doesn't particularly like her. I have come to the conclusion that now that they got me on my own they chose to take advantage of that situation. Kind of like your friend's not here any more so you're all on your own. They get up make coffee together, eat sweets making a big deal of it like `oh sweeties lovely` so you can hear. I don't know if it's deliberate or they're just stupid. Also not acknowledging you are there in front of other members of staff. Not acknowledging you walking past them when you come into work and leaving. TBH I tried but a few times I was ignored when I spoke and looked at one time as if to say `sorry are you speaking to me` and I thought sod this that's it I can do this too. I felt like why should I be the one having to make an effort. They just don't care. They're only concerned about socialising, on the internet, phoning up about clothes, what to wear, what not to wear, diets. Sorry but I am married with a family and those things interest me too but if you're not hip you're not in if you see what I mean.

warthog Fri 29-May-09 10:53:56

don't they do any work???

you could bring a loudspeaker in and yell at them through it from the other side of the room. then do a running commentary of their actions.

but that probably wouldn't help things...

can you give your om a call and ask for the coffee? try and get it sorted before you go back. i think just doing something about this will make you feel a tiny bit better.

morningpaper Fri 29-May-09 11:02:43

What solution do you want?

I think you need to go in there knowing your own mind, and at the mo, it sounds like you don't. Can you write down all potential solutions and a list of pros and cons?

mykiddies Fri 29-May-09 11:08:26

Thanks warthog. This has totally zapped my confidence which was low to begin with. I said to my hubby the other day - i'm boring and dull and I look awful (due to lack of sleep). Thinking things like - i'm the same kinda age - i love make-up, clothes, going out etc. too so what is it. Someone mentioned `you can't be best friends with everyone` - management by the way! I don't want to be best friends I just want a bit of respect and for people to be civil - I am human after all. I have feelings.

I rang acas earlier. The guy advised it was up to me whether or not I didn't meet beforehand but that if I didn't that I could ring and say I would not be comfortable coming back to work and sitting with them, that if something could be done to put something in place before I come back (even temporary) until OM comes back again otherwise I would have to stay off work until things were resolved. So you think Monday is better option if I don't want to see staff partner. I would be embarrassed.

mrsjammi Fri 29-May-09 11:17:31

Message withdrawn

ruddynorah Fri 29-May-09 11:19:10

your boss has suggested talking to you all together, as you presumably didn't feel you could instigate this yourself with your colleagues informally. you have refused this offer.

your boss has asked to meet you before you return to work to discuss your options. you have refused this.

she has then suggested as she won't be there on your first day back that you could talk to the other boss. you want to refuse that too.

what exactly would you like to happen? what do you think your bosses should be doing? you have asked to be moved. are you able to compromise on that at all or are you not prepared to?

mrsjammi Fri 29-May-09 11:19:20

Message withdrawn

mykiddies Fri 29-May-09 11:27:39

So can I not suggest they move me somewhere before I come back without having to meet. If I rang at the beginning of next week and said I will be back x if you are moving me somewhere else. If this is all they're going to suggest when meeting then what is the point. I have told about the way things are I don't see how going over it all again will change anything. I just need moved.

Portofino Fri 29-May-09 11:36:21

Good post mp. On the surface it all sounds a bit childish, but I appreciate that we spend a lot of time at work, and feeling pushed out and unhappy is not conducive to a successful work life.

If they are just simply ignoring you, they sound very childish and petty. I would try to rise above it. They don't want to be your friend, sod them. They can only bother you if you let them. Can you get yourself some nice choccies, offer them around, phone a friend at lunchtime and make (or even pretend to make) some exicting plans.

Transactional Analysis is good for these kind of situations. I'm not an expert and I'm trying to find a decent link. Years ago, I was new in a job, and had to deal with someone (been there years) who was very short and upleasant to me. It was very, very hard to cope with.

We did a course at work involving TA and dealing with difficult people. Probably too long winded to explain the process here, but basically I realised I had to get out of the behaviour cycle.

= He criticised me over something - I felt stupid and apologised, "I didn't know, I won't do it again" etc (The relationship was Critical parent vs Adaptive child) My response to him enabled his behaviour IFYSWIM

So the course taught the simple lesson that we were both Adults, worthy of respect, and that communication should be based solely on that level.

The next time the guy criticised me, I didn't apologise/grovel etc. I just took a deep breath and said something like, Of course, I know you need that paperwork today, you'll have it by this afternoon. Smiled politely, and moved off.

The change was remarkable. I stopped worrying about him all the time, stopped apologising, and just responded to him with clear statements. In return, he stopped the criticism. I was totally surprised that it could be that simple. By the time he retired we got on really well.

Sorry - been waffling and you probably have no clue what I'm going on about....

ruddynorah Fri 29-May-09 11:43:15

but you don't know what will be discussed if you don't discuss it with her! your boss probably thinks it all sounds a bit petty, like have you told her about them not sharing their sweets?

it would be pretty crap if you've been signed off sick for your boss to not want to chat with you before you settle back into work.

mykiddies Fri 29-May-09 11:47:22

Well you see I have been trying to not let it bother me. I do get on with other people. Other people come to my desk and have a chat now and again but the last straw came when the joke was made with a senior person and I felt belittled like it is I am the one with the problem. I thought that was v unprofessional. It had started to wear me down and I was not sleeping, headaches etc. V unhappy and starting to doubt myself, my personality, looks etc. so I had to get out of the situation. I felt aware of people looking at me, maybe a bit paranoid, like she must be so boring they don't talk to her. I don't like them the way they get on and suck up to bosses as if aren't we brilliant. They are actually socialising this weekend and I'm supposed to be meeting with a boss to discuss things and she's having a laugh with them at the same time.

mykiddies Fri 29-May-09 11:53:09

I see the best situation seems to be to meet. I have nothing to be afraid of I know I haven't done anything wrong. ruddynorah I know it sounds petty esp. if sweets are brought up! but all these petty things put together does matter.

BonsoirAnna Fri 29-May-09 11:53:20

I agree with your post Portofino, and the TA approach.

When working with difficult people, you have to let yourself remained focused on the task at hand and not let yourself get bogged down in pettiness/personal remarks/childish behaviour.

I have recently been having some immensely tiresome interactions with a group I am working on a project with. Every time someone tries to strike below the belt I have to grit my teeth (it would be so easy for me to retaliate in kind, and worse) and refocus the conversation on the task.

If, however, the group is really savage, you won't be able to do anything with it.

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