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Anybody else finding it hard to cope with work stress?

(12 Posts)
magictorch Mon 29-Oct-12 21:23:29

Hello All. Well, after another crappy day at work that had me in tears by 9.30 blush I was wondering if anyone had any tips or advice that may help?

To set the scene, I'm 17 weeks, have worked for my employer for 7 years and due to changes over the years, am now the only person doing my job. I used to be in a team of six. This has been the case for nearly four years. The workload has increased considerably and because I have no cover, I haven't taken more than a few days off at a time in years.

My company is a very well known brand and I work closely with the Exec team, although I am no where near head of or director level.

I told them I was pregnant weeks ago. I still haven't had a risk assessment, despite chasing.
I've told them that the workload I have is unsustainable an requested a temp, e even for a week or two just to take some of the pressure off, but they refused as they don't recognise the need for more than one person to do my job.
I don't see or speak to my line manager from one week to the next as they are at a different site and anyway, have no experience or understanding of my job or what it entails. And is not interested.

Today was a straw that broke the camel's back day. I didn't get home until nearly 8pm and have to travel 100 miles to another site first thing.

When I've spoken to them, told them about the pressure, that I never have a lunch break etc, they (including HR director) just shrug and tell me just to get on with it. The thinly veiled threat of redundancy is always there.

Pre-bump this wasn't a problem. Now it is. I'm anxious, not sleeping, totally wound up and worried this is harming my much longed for baby.

I'm seeing the midwife on Wednesday so I may mention then, but what can she do?

Any advice? Sorry this is so long and for typos. I'll look at any replies in the morning, my duvet is calling!

stowsettler Mon 29-Oct-12 21:38:47

You sounds like you're in a bit of a David v Goliath situation, you poor thing. I'm all for going for what we're entitled to - and if possible in a conciliatory and co-operational kind of way = but it doesn't sound like that will get you anywhere. Frankly that sounds unsustainable and I'd be straight in to see my GP regarding the stress. Like you, I would normally just get on with it, but it's not just about you any more. I'm very lucky in that my employers have been very understanding but I do understand how trapped you must be feeling.
As you know they are not currently doing what they have to do legally (i.e. a risk assessment) and any move to get rid of you would be a pretty much nailed-on certainty to win a case for sex discrimination. Obviously this is not what you want to happen - but as I said, it's not just about you any more.
Get to the GP, explain your situation completely frankly. They may sign you off sick or they may not - but at least your work situation is documented then. I would think that they do sign you off.
Good luck.

Wheels79 Mon 29-Oct-12 22:38:29

I'm struggling too. I work for a director and have been without admin assistance for over 3 months now. I'm supposed to be working on projects including recruiting my maternity cover but someone's got to open the post, do the diary and answer the phone so feel like I'm doing my job in my spare time!

It's definitely spilling over into my personal life/ pregnancy. I feel I have no time to plan arrival (I'm 25 weeks) and have moments of serious doubt about my ability to cope with a baby. In a fit of crying on Sunday I told DH that maybe I should give birth, give him the baby and leave. Luckily he knows I just get myself into a spiral of negative thinking about my abilities and just reassures me.

I thought about going to doctor to get signed off but the work would still be waiting for me when I get back (no one else to do it) so I doubt being at home would help me break the cycle.

Like you OP my efforts to speak up are ignored, sadly this is probably because I manage to pull off a half decent job in the end although I can't say I'm proud of my work.

No words of advice but I can say I know how you feel.

Clarella Tue 30-Oct-12 08:27:39

I would speak to your doctor - at least to log it - if it was decided that being signed off for a week or so a good idea, remember doc could then do a 'fit note' stipulating the range of duties you are fit for if to continue working. Also, if you have any sort of union perhaps check with them too. The risk assessment is a legal right but following my experiences it exists as a platform to officially discuss how you are feeling at stages to the pregnancy and adjust conditions if needed - no one pregnancy is the same. I came across nhs guidance on an ra that said the effects of the idea that a woman is endangering the pregnancy in their work place due to any range of challenges is enough to be an issue due to the anxiety it can potentially have.

I find it incredulous companies/ work places don't value their pregnant female staff - just being listened to and small accommodations made can be enough to make you feel so much more supported and capable of doing a good job rather than effectively being forced to take sick leave to protect both baby and mum. I've had antenatal depression due to stress, partially linked to work, but its the wrong term really as its actually more about the extreme anxiety that can be triggered, which then leads to depression. I tried extremely hard to battle on and only accepted I couldn't following two trips to hospital with panic attacks and palpitations plus my doctor getting rather stern with me - here were other medical things going on but the stress was mostly work linked. Am now under the perinatal counselling team trying to recover in time for Lo in a few weeks and doing ok.

I appreciate how hard it is to know what to do op but you need to put yourself and Lo first x

Clarella Tue 30-Oct-12 08:32:22

I would be also logging records of meetings, requests, replies etc and doc apps in case there ended up being any legal ramifications - definately a docs appt soon would be wise.

magictorch Tue 30-Oct-12 20:03:43

Clarella some really good advice, thank you and I hope you feel better soon. Believe me, I am keeping every email at the moment.

Stow you're right about it feeling like David vs Goliath - what do you do when your managers and the directors just couldn't give a monkeys about your situation, yet still expect you to perform over and above?

I'm only just in from work, having driven at 7am this morning to a site 100 miles away and driven back again tonight. Only, I drove back in floods of tears, because despite the fact I've gone out of my way for people, stayed late, etc etc on top of all the other stuff I have to do, I then get a crappy email from a director, copying in the world and it's cat, slagging off a piece of work I'd done - even though one of his team had signed it off!!!! Aaaarrrghhh! angry It's not the sort of thing that would make me weepy normally, but this on top of all the other rubbish and the general attitude towards me and what I do at the moment was just enough for me to blub.

Although I have only had 1 day off sick in 7 years, I'm definitely speaking to the midwife tomorrow with a view to getting signed off, although, like Wheels, I'm worried about all the work piled up for my return too and the fact that I think I could be doing better. No one else can do my job in the whole organisation and I'd feel guilty for letting others down. Bah.

But I can't go on like this either. And it's not good for bump, so I will do whatever the midwife suggests.

Thanks for all the advice - I really appreciate it.

plonko Tue 30-Oct-12 21:25:49

Magictorch, I feel like I could have written your post myself. I work in a shop/warehouse on a graduate management scheme. Ten hours a day on my feet constantly with little opportunity to take more than 20 mins for a lunch break, lots of work to do in a very small team, lots of responsibility and no autonomy - essentially, it's a very tiring, often stressful job.

At 14 weeks I was knackered. At 18 weeks I was exhausted. My managers hands were tied so I went over her head to try to get altered hours, but HR would not budge. At 22 weeks I was having nightmares, struggling to eat, feeling nausea beyond any ms I'd had and was suffering frequent headaches. I went to my gp suspecting something like high blood pressure, and he immediately signed me off for a week. I'm now back at work, 23 weeks, and have been informed that my hours are getting reduced to just 8 per day. I definitely feel like I forced their hand, but I don't care. My dr said he'd normally tell me to take a day or two off, but felt that wasn't enough in the circumstances.

I work in a very macho environment - I've already been labelled a part timer and been asked how long I'll be taking for my 'baby holiday'. Sad, isn't it? I buck myself up by thinking that in a year ill have a lovely 8 month old squishy son, and they'll still be doing the same thing. I guess I've taken a huge step back from my job. I still want to work to the best of my ability, I like to be proud of my achievements at work but this wriggly kicky thing in my tummy is so much more important. I owe it to him to not be a workaholic anymore.

I didn't want my gp to sign me off, and was quite shocked by the decision. I now see why he made it though! Sorry for the long post, I just felt that I had to tell you not to let the bastards grind you down. I hope you get a good nights rest and get see your gp or midwife ASAP! Best wishes

Clarella Tue 30-Oct-12 21:42:48

I think it gets to a point where you have to equate mental health (anxiety) with physical health - for eg pre eclampsia and severe spd necessitate either being signed off and spd possibly v strict management and change in duties. People kept saying 'hormones' but it means a bit more than that - hormones have the capacity to plunge people into a deep depression or extreme anxiety. I hope things improve for all of you xx

plonko Tue 30-Oct-12 21:57:08

Completely agree with clarella - having nightmares was the final straw for me. Crying all the way home on top of a thirteen hour day is exhausting, and that's no good anymore.

When I really think about all these negative experiences I get so sad. I was hoping that my employers utter inertia was unique to them, it'd be far easier to excuse.

FergusSingsTheBlues Tue 30-Oct-12 23:02:52

Its amazing how little support you can get sometimes...in my case from an hr consultant with two kids who informed me that "we've all had babies" when i told her about my spd. Two minutes later she handed me a formal warning for something minor which equated to my failing o show committmrnt to the job.

I feel like walking out. Sisterhood aint up to much from where im standing.

ivanapoo Tue 30-Oct-12 23:19:53

My advice is:

Do what's right and healthy for you. Take lunch breaks. Stop working such long hours. Say no to more work. Record how you are spending your time accurately so you can't be accused of slacking. Try to care a bit less.

I am lucky that with pregnancy came a sense of calm so I've generally found myself not getting too stressed until this week but I am my own worst enemy as I don't like saying no or letting people down.

bumpitybumpbump Wed 31-Oct-12 14:03:54

A bit of legal advice for the record: make sure you make notes of the discussions you have had with the HR department and ideally follow up your discussion with an email setting out your concerns so it's on record.

It is very difficult for companies to try and dismiss or claim redundancy re a pregnant woman because it leaves them very vulnerable to claims of sexual discrimination which has uncapped liability (unlike unfair dismissal) and employment tribunals do not look kindly on this kind of behaviour. I agree with some of the other comments - get a note from your GP, pass this on to your HR Department with all your concerns about your workload and print copies of all emails so you have them on file. You don't have to be aggressive about this, but they should know that you are documenting the correspondence and that you expect to be treated in line with the legal requirements.

You shouldn't have to worry about getting the sack as well as everything else you have to deal with! Good luck!

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