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Employment Advice Needed - Please help

(10 Posts)
catgirl1976 Mon 25-Mar-13 13:35:56

I have been off work since the 18th of Feb with anxiety and depression which is largely work related. I have been with the company for over 8 years in a senior role. I am currently signed off until the start of May.

Work pay 15 days sick leave per year, after that you are on SSP only.

For March I would have 2 weeks covered by company sick pay and 2 weeks on SSP only. I cannot afford this and let the HR assistant know that I wished to opt to use annual leave for the two weeks on SSP only.

On Friday I recieved a recorded delivery letter from my work saying I would only be paid SSP for the period from 14th of March. No mention of my annual leave but "other options might be open to me so that I did not have to suffer such a big drop in pay". The letter said to enact these I had to contact a Partner by telephone BEFORE Monday.

The letter was only recieved Friday and I did not open it until after the office had closed. Given that it was not possible to contact them BEFORE Monday.

Also, my illness means I find the thought of speaking to them on the phone really difficult (it makes me throw up tbh), plus I am really spaced out due to my medication.

I sent the partner an e-mail explaining that I wished to opt to use annual leave to cover these 2 weeks. I sent a link to the government website explaining employees can do this.

I explained I did not get the letter in time to phone before Friday and that due to my illness I found it difficult to phone and would prefer to communicate via email.

I asked him to let me know he had recieved it, to let me know e-mail was ok instead of a phone call and to let me know the content was ok regarding annual leave etc.

I have had no reply.

I e-mailed the HR assistant asking her to check it had been recieved and confirm reciept of my fit notes. No reply.

I sent the HR assistant (Who is actually also my assistant) a text to the same end. No reply

This is making me more ill as I am really worried. I feel they are refusing to reply so I have to phone them even though I have explained why this is really difficult and that I would prefer to communicate via e-mail.

I haven't said but I would also rather have a written trail of communucation in case things go badly.

Can they force me to phone instead of e-mailing and can they refuse to pay me annual leave as I have requested?

I am really not well and this is making me worse so any advice would be great. Thank you

bizzybee1234 Mon 25-Mar-13 14:10:46

I would get in touch with CAB - they will be able to help you free of charge. Also ACAS may be able to help.

yummumto3girls Mon 25-Mar-13 22:18:13

Given the circumstances you have described it is not unreasonable of you to communicate via e-mail, this is deemed to be a 'reasonable adjustment' given your illness. The company are being totally unreasonable in writing to you on Friday about something to happen on the Monday. You are right to request annual leave whilst off sick, leave entitlement continues to accrue during sick leave. Have you anyway of knowing if your e-mails have been read? Can you ask someone to call them on your behalf? What 'other options' are they suggesting?? A totally unhelpful situation for you when you are feeling so low. What have they done to contribute to your illness? We could be looking at a situation of constructive unfair dismissal?

catgirl1976 Tue 26-Mar-13 09:34:50

Thank you yum

In terms of contributing to my illness, it is a stressful job. Post baby I was working 70+ hours a week although only contracted for 35.

We do all our appraisals in the first two months of the year and as I do them I was told if I didn't come in on my mat leave to conduct them then no one (including me) would get one that year (and therefore no pay rises)

So when my baby was 4 weeks old I was back in the office 2 days a week conducting appraisals and writing them from home the other 3 even though I was on mat leave. I also still did payroll throughout my mat leave.

I was back at work ft when he has less than 5 months old. On my first day back I had 2 inductions booked in for 9am that morning (and so I had to prepare all documents, traning plans etc whilst on mat leave) and "hit the ground running" the first minute I was back.

At my appraisal this year it was acknowledged I had worked an extra 4 months in the year by working on my mat leave and evenings and weekends and had done similar in the previous year

Also at my appraisal I got a lot of criticism for a pay modelling project I had done being full of errors. It wasn't. I raised this but was told the Partner I had worked with had said it was dreadful and had had to re-do loads of my work. This really upset me as it wasn't true.

I asked the Partner I had worked with after my appraisal and he said the project was fine, he hadn't complained and had not had to re-do any of my work.

My work load just keeps growing and growing. In the last year I have only had 2 reviews with my manager (meant to be monthly). In the 8 years I have been there I have only ever had 1 training session.

While my work loads grows, other key parts of my role that I enjoy and do well are removed and given to other people.

I get no clear direction on anything and continually get contradictory instructions or work on a project and then get told the Partner has changed his mind and doesn't want it.

Sorry for the rant blush

catgirl1976 Tue 26-Mar-13 20:07:24

bump blush

ceeveebee Tue 26-Mar-13 20:31:47

Catgirl, I am not able to give any helpful advice as I'm not an employment specialist, but I didn't want your post to go unanswered. It sounds like you have been treated badly by your employer.
I am also in a senior role and I have found the higher up the ladder you go, the worse you seem to get treated in terms of appraisals, objectives, support etc, its almost as if they expect you to fend for yourself once you reach a certain level. I haven't had an appraisal for over 5 years and in order to go part time on my return after mat leave I had to take a lower level job and a 33% pay cut (before prorating). I knew there was no option as I couldn't have gone back to 60 hr weeks (DH works in the City) so I took it.

Anyway this is about you not me. Can you resend your emails with a read receipt? I'm guessing you are the HR director or similar from what you say above - if not is there anyone in HR you feel you can speak to? What do you want to happen ultimately - to try to make your role less stressful or to try to negotiate a settlement? Do you have contacts in law firms you could have a confidential chat with?

catgirl1976 Tue 26-Mar-13 20:45:15

Hi ceeveebee - thanks for answering my post.

It's nice to know I'm not alone (well not nice...things should be different for us both!) and I think you are right that you are expected to just get on with it after a certain point. I will probably end up putting on a smile, going back to work and carrying on but right now I think I just need a break and a vent.

You guessed my role right so there isn't really anyone I can talk to. The Senior Partner is back in the country this week so I am going to talk to him after Easter. I just feel really sidelined after having a baby but still expected to do just as much work whilst being told "I've changed"

I think it's pretty common sadly sad

I may ask to go pt for a while, but like you I will have to take a huge pay cut and progression will be a distant memory

Thanks for the support - it means a lot

ceeveebee Tue 26-Mar-13 21:29:26

Catgirl, its all too common unfortunately. I know very few women who have managed to go back full time for the early years, most of the female directors here either do 4 day weeks or have no DC (or grown-up children). All the male directors have wives who are SAHMs.

Try to enjoy the time off over Easter with your little one and I hope your conversation goes well next week

flowery Wed 27-Mar-13 16:54:58

Just as a tip, people who are employment experts tend to hang out in the Employment topic rather than here, so for future, you may get a better response doing the same. smile

In answer to your specific questions in your OP, although you can take holiday during sickness, that doesn't equate to a legal right to do so. Same as any other holiday request, it doesn't have to be granted. You are the HR Director, yes?

It's fine for them to ask you to phone, and although you can request communication to be by email only, they are not breaking the law by not having sorted that out between Friday and Monday. If they penalised you later with a warning or a dismissal, and it was a result of you not phoning for something when you had made a reasonable request for communication to be via email, then you may have grounds for complaint.

If you are at a stage where you can't even speak to them, then you are likely to be off for quite a while I imagine, so I would get your doctor to advise on fit notes that communication should be via email.

Long term? Sounds like there are issues there which are not realistically going to improve so you should be looking for something else.

I do feel there may be an issue with expectations though. Once you get to director level, expecting regular performance reviews and training often isn't realistic. You are often expected to just get on with it, your deliverables are broader and support from above can be limited as well. That's the reality of being at director level, so I wonder if there's a clash between your expectations of what you should be doing/should expect from them, and their expectations?

catgirl1976 Wed 27-Mar-13 21:25:30

I know........ smile I'm just generally fed up with them.

I know all our policies inside out (we always allow people to change between sick leave and annual, whichever way around) but they chop and change whenever they like and have zero respect for employment law (so I spend a fair amount of time at tribunals, all of which we win) and never follow procedures

I can live without training and reviews, I've been at this level for ages and I know I will never get them and it's par for the course. It's the lack of communication and the fact that there are no clear objectives and no planning and what is required is either not communicated or changed without the change being communicated. Plus the unrealistic deadlines and amout of hours I am expected to work. The hours were fine pre child but I can't do both.

Maybe I need to go part time and just accept I can't actually do both

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