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Pregnant clerical office NHS worker, requested for less stressful work refused

(24 Posts)
lisa111 Wed 09-Sep-09 14:22:39


Do I stick it out or go off sick? I want to stay in work but its getting more stressful every day.

My day is sitting at my computer, answering the telephone and dealing with whatever the call is about, or inputting orders and ringing the public to arrange the delivery or return of equipment.

It can be very stressful and upsetting, the office is noisy, short staffed due to stress and the manaager expects us to deal with the problems that come up.

I am 26 weeks pg having a nightmare of a time (it took 2 months to get risk asses review) during the review I told them I had pelvis pain and was finding my workload stressful. My request for less stressful work was refused. Instead I was told to take more rest breaks, not get stressed out, take my time, and any problems let the boss know.

There is less stressful work I could do, but the boss said "if I give you the easy work then its not fair to put it on the rest of the staff" I did make it clear I understood that, but I am the only member of staff who is pg, and it would be better than my being off sick pg related, and they couldn't disipline me for it either.

Both my MW and GP have said if I feel its getting too much they would agree to sign me off. I want to stay in work but its just getting me down.

I have occy health next week as during a sickness review meeting I made it clear in fornt of H.R and my Manager I was feeling stressed.

My GP offered to write a sick note stating I am fit to work but due to pg related issues advises a change of duties.

My manager is not nice and to have me put on easy inputting would be seen to be allowing me do the easy stuff, and that I was getting my own way.

Meglet Wed 09-Sep-09 14:25:36

Having to wait 2 months for a risk assessment is not on. Even your boss sounds over stretched.

Have you felt able to take more rest breaks? Or did they say it knowing that you would feel uncomfortable actually doing it?

mosschops30 Wed 09-Sep-09 14:29:12

On one hand I have oodles of sympathy for you, I had to finish at 29 weeks due to not physically being able to carry on with my job. I have had lots of pg related sick time and although my manager has been excellent, he was unable to do any more to accomodate me.

However I am a 'front line' NHS worker as it were, transferring patients, dealing with drugs, bending, lifting, stretching, shift work (although this was changed to 8-6pm only).
I could only dream of sitting in a noisy office answering the phone.

I do think that if there are easier things you can be doing then your manager should allow that up to a point. I also think you might be being slightly wimpy (sorry) but maybe there are other issues you havent mentioned in your post.

If you feel its too much, then take the offer of sick leave, like you say it doesnt count towards your annual sickness allowance, and the health of you and your baby is far more important, no one ever got a medal for sraying in work as long as humanly possible.

mazzystartled Wed 09-Sep-09 14:38:06

It sounds like a stressful busy environment, and that this is more about that than the work per se.

I don't wish to be unsympathetic, but I think that at first you should take your boss at their word - take the rest breaks, try to change your approach to the work. And be clear and realistic about what is manageable. Have you been taking up your right to go to antenatal classes? Try so yoga and meditation stuff perhaps. Maybe these things would help keep you in work longer, if that is what you really want.

EldonAve Wed 09-Sep-09 14:40:06

what is stressful exactly? is it the phone calls?

louii Wed 09-Sep-09 14:44:38

A lot more stressful jobs than sitting at the computer answering phones.

How is it harder or more stressful now that you are pregnant?

flowerybeanbag Wed 09-Sep-09 14:54:30

Your employer must make adjustments, including possibly to your duties, if, following a risk assessment, it is identified that aspects of your job are risking your health due to your pregnancy. Mosschops' situation would be a classic example, bending, lifting and so on.

If your job is stationery, seated and you are being offered plenty of rest breaks, and your job is answering the phone, it's difficult to see much of a justification
for changing your duties because of your pregnancy.

It sounds more as though this might be an ongoing problem for you, finding your work stressful, than anything that is particularly different now you are pregnant, is that fair to say?

doggiesayswoof Wed 09-Sep-09 14:55:59

Are you getting verbal abuse on the phone?

dontrunwithscissors Wed 09-Sep-09 20:26:41

I'm sympathetic to what's happening. I have found that, when I'm pregnant, I'm far less able to deal with stressful situations at work. I'm 22 weeks, and today at work was absolutely awful. I was so stressed I thought I was going to be sick. Under normal conditions, I know I would have managed OK. I think people respond to pregnancy differently - for some the worst effects are physical, for others it's mental. Having said all that, I'm really not sure what you can do, except going off sick. I'm goin on ML from 29 weeks as I know I can't cope with any more. Anyway, sorry for the rambling, I'm shattered!

PavlovtheForgetfulCat Wed 09-Sep-09 20:34:02

I would get your GP to write the letter recommending a change of duties at the very least and take this to your OH appt, and for your gp to make it clear if this does not occur then absence due to pregnancy and work stress is inevitable. It is their responsibility for you and for them as an employer to do what they can to keep you at work.

I had a similar ish problem earlier in this pg, (also work for a public sector organisation similar to yours) as my boss just did not take my hyperemesis seriously and I had to wait until I wasn 18 wks pg til I had my risk assessment, after informing them at 6 weeks or so (had hyperemesis the first pg so knew it was going to be a problem).

Luckily, the OH were very supportive and recommended that my hours be reduced and that my work had to change. And this was done. They made it clear that if this did not happen, the likelihood of me returning to work for the forseeable future was unlikely as tiredness and stress made the sickness worse. OH also told them to expect me to take time off even with the reduced hours.

They have 2 choices - keep you at work in some capacity, with your colleagues taking some of the flack, which is not your fault, or have you go off sick completely and your colleagues taking all the flack.

RoseBlossoms Wed 09-Sep-09 20:35:09


I think you should get a grip. There are jobs that can be a lot more stressful than what you are stating here.

Or are there other things going on that you are not saying?

Do what occy health are saying and thank the lord that if you do go off sick (which is what is sound like you want to do) the NHS will give you full pay. Lots of people don’t have this luxury.

ilovemydogandmrobama Wed 09-Sep-09 20:38:58

That's a bit harsh Rose. hmm

Squishabelle Wed 09-Sep-09 20:42:26

I think there must be more to this. The job as you have described it doesnt sound particularly stressful.

sobloodystupid Wed 09-Sep-09 20:46:11

congrats lisa! I think that you do sound stressed out and things are always a bit out of proportion when you don't have time to reflect. I think you should do what you can, when you can, grin Everyone realises that people aren't being replaced. Go to yoga or antenatal classes, use your breaks to relax not to catch up on work, and do some activity after work that you can look forward to all day.

ilovemydogandmrobama Wed 09-Sep-09 20:51:28

Fact is, the OP is getting stressed. Her boss has acknowledged that it isn't easy work as he said it would be unfair to put it on other staff, so there's your evidence.

And you know, it doesn't really matter if she works in an office or is a fighter pilot for the RAF. This OP is stressed. The law doesn't say, 'well, there are others more stressed than you...' She is pregnant and by law this needs to be taken into account with adjustments made.

RoseBlossoms Wed 09-Sep-09 21:55:16

I feel the op is putting this stress on herself. She has been told to take more breaks and take her time. Also she is only going to be there max 13/14 weeks is it that long to suck it up and get on with it?! Nothing she has said has made me think that this is an unsuitable working environment for a pregnant woman.

I am not up to speed with current legislation (read dim) but what law about being stressed in pregnancy? All I could find was "Health and safety for pregnant employees" of which the list of criteria don’t fit this situation as unsafe.

Maybe I am harsh but its just my opinion, and who the feck am I?

OP asked do I stick it out or go off sick I think suck it up and stick it out!

colditz Wed 09-Sep-09 22:03:02

I think your manager is right, to be honest.Take some responsibility for your own stress levels. Go to antenatal yoga, relaxation classes, it's your right and your midwife will ensure that you get paid fopr the time you spend there if you tell her you feel you need them. Your job isn't very hard, and it isn't affecting your health - you are allowing it to affect your stress levels.

How on Earth do you think women having their second pregnancy cope? Dealing with a toddler's endless demandsand tantrums is a great deal more stressful than sitting on your bottom in an office!

Re pelvic pain - I KNOW it can be incredibly painful - but if it's really hurting, it's still going to hurt if you are sitting inputting. Go for a walk, or simply say "My pregnancy is causing me hip pain. I'm going home"

PavlovtheForgetfulCat Wed 09-Sep-09 22:29:58

I agree with the managing a toddler Colditz - when I have been feeling pretty rough and when it was probably more sensible to stay at home due to being so sick, I would go into work just because it was more stressful at home with DD and DH! I was between a rock and a hardplace and sitting at my desk or with a glass of water in the staff room where I was left in peace gave me some respite that I would not get at home with a 3 year old running around me grin

SlartyBartFast Wed 09-Sep-09 22:34:01

how much longer do you have to work there for?

<<i am sure it is your hormones, and to me, a fellow nhs worker, it doesnt sound particularly stressful>>

count down the days,
count to 10.

you will look back on this and laugh once you have your lo i promise.

nigglewiggle Wed 09-Sep-09 22:49:31

Message withdrawn

lisa111 Sun 13-Sep-09 17:11:01

Thanx all, I am gonna try and see if things get better, at least I got my review, and I made it clear that if I need it reviewing again its to be done asap, not 2 months later. I guess I have been feeling ignored and sorry for myself.

Lots of bad history, lack of a supportive manager, and we don't get on never had.

My manager had me in the office over my 20week scan, saying a scan is not an antenatal appointment.

Then it was you never came back to work after the appointment, you get 2 hours for hospital appointments. I dont take the piss I go to appointment and come straight back.

Ive been there nearly 6 years and not been allowed to go on any training, and ive not had my KSF, I have applied to do my ECDL and was told "you dont need it to do your job" I work on a p.c 8hrs a day.

My job is to arrange del/coll of equipment to service users, report breakdowns, deal with del of equipment for hospital discharge, and sort out any queries that ot's, physio's or dn's have.

When its a hospital d/c or terminal and we have no stock or delivery slots are full and the person wants to die at home with family around them, thats when it gets stressful.

I just find it more emotional now i'm pg and due to staff sickness its even worse, 7 staff and we have 3 off sick.

ilovemydogandmrobama Sun 13-Sep-09 17:17:56

Of course a scan is an antenatal appointment! shock

Hope you clarified this for him.

So, your job is dealing with the logistics in providing medical equipment for terminally ill people? Yup, that sounds fairly stressful.

Sorry, but don't agree with others suggesting you need to stick it out. If it's too much, then get signed off for a few weeks and see how you feel. It may not need to be until you have the baby.

Keep a record of conversations/letters and emails in case you need to show that you asked for your work to be adjusted.

dontrunwithscissors Sun 13-Sep-09 20:31:54

OP, it sounds as if it's not quite so much the work that's stressing you, as it is the conditions under which you work, and treatment from your superiors? My feeling is that working where you feel unsupported/unappreciated can be very stressful, and especially if you're dealing with pregnancy on top. Do what's right for you and your baby.

newspaperdelivery Sun 13-Sep-09 20:41:31

I know what it can be like in the kind of office you are in. A big bad pressure coker telling people who are desperate for appointments and follow up they can't have them, and certainly not at a time to suit them.

BUT this is your job, NHS will always be along these lines of 'suck it up and thank your stars it isn't worse'. It is the nature of the beast.

If this is your first, then my advice is to savour it. Do not allow work to overshadow this magic time. It never comes again. If that means staying and learning to handle the situation better [be that through insisting on more support or accepting the place] or be that through going onto some sort of leave asap - is upt to you to decide.

It is great you have the choice - you have the get out of jail option so try to remember that and take heart. One way or another, very soon you are outta there!! Woo HOo!

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