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Bullying and stress. Grievance worth it?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Generalorgana, Nov 18, 2018.

  1. Generalorgana

    Generalorgana New commenter

    Hello everyone,

    Can anyone offer me some advice on submitting a grievance? I've read through the forums & the advice seems to be 'don't do it' but I can't see another option for me. (other than resign).

    I've been subject to bullying behaviour from the HT for several years and it has escalated into being threatened with disciplinary action on a false accusation (the allegation has come from the HT) I am absent with WRS & have an Occupational Health meeting in a week. I'm worried about this as I will have to say that I'm unable to work because of the bullying & I know the HT will see the report.

    My union, my colleagues, my doctor etc all say I need to use the grievance policy. I don't have enormous faith in this, particularly as the HT is close friends with many of the governors. I don't want to resign as I love my job, my school and my colleagues. However, I can't see being able to go back to work to be subjected to the bullying again, which I think will only become worse if I raise a grievance.

    I would appreciate a little help & support as to what I could do. Thanks in advance.
  2. Sanz1981

    Sanz1981 Occasional commenter

    Pm me
  3. peapicker

    peapicker Star commenter

    If I were you, I wouldn't PM anyone. You might gauge a range of opinions on this forum, but the ONLY advice you should be taking should be that of your union or an alternative source of specialist employment law from someone suitably qualified.
  4. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    They are correct, especially as the union is one of those voices, it definitely needs the union backing as it can get very toxic and the union can help take some of the strain. Leaving aside the principle that bullying needs addressing, if you need the grievance to access OH properly then this is the clincher, your health over calling a bully out? No contest.

    Easier to say than to do so all the best with whatever you decide.
    agathamorse and Generalorgana like this.
  5. MissMultitask

    MissMultitask New commenter

    Union advice first. There are lots and lots of posts if you search 'grievance policy' on here.
    My opinion, for what that is worth, is this- you have to balance your health against the stress of standing up to the bully.
    If this has gone on for a number of years it does not sound like a healthy work environment and realistically the trauma you may suffer by calling them out and subsequent action- whatever that will be- will have yet another toll on your health.
    Ask yourself this- what will I gain?
    Tread softly here, much to consider- sometimes you have to play the long game....
  6. Generalorgana

    Generalorgana New commenter

    Thank you everyone. I'm trying to take some time to consider my options but I'm hearing a lot of people telling me to file a grievance. I'm just not sure this will have a positive impact. And some of those people have been in a similar position & haven't done anything either...

    What do you mean by 'sometimes you have to play the long game'? Am I being a bit daft and missing something? :)
  7. pickles124

    pickles124 Established commenter

    Sending my thoughts and prayers to you. Whilst I'm not overly religious I ask for His help in difficult times. This life is a test, that I can be sure of. I would echo other people's advice. Have you considered any other type of work that would suit you.

    This isn't making you happy. I can see it in your post. We only have one life.
  8. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Excellent. This is exactly the scenario you need to make it better.
    No, I'm not being sarcastic, I mean it.

    It is the essence of a bully that they can thrive on precisely this concern.
    "If I speak the truth they will find out that I have spoken the truth and that is too scary"
    Thus preventing speaking out about the truth.
    Can you change them?
    Can you talk to them?
    Can you speak out to OH?
    Will telling OH your concerns stop them?
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2018
  9. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    ooops, double posted, sorry
  10. Bedlam3

    Bedlam3 Star commenter

    Do you have the evidence to proove that you are being bullied? Don't rely on people who say they will speak up for you because they will likely back down in reality and leave you on your own.
    If you have good evidence then you might consider submitting a grievance but even if it's upheld what happens then? What will you want to achieve from it? Even if it's upheld will the head be dismissed or just given a warning? So then you have to carry on working with them. Are you prepared for that?
    What stage of your career are you at? How badly do you need your job? Do you have a mortgage and dependants? Lots to consider. It's a very individual decision.
    Generalorgana and JohnJCazorla like this.
  11. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    These three statements can't completely add up. You can't be loving all your work if it's making you ill and you're being victimised.

    What outcome would you be hoping for from a grievance, and how likely is it?
    Supposing you win, but if the head remains in post (which will be the likely outcome of a simple grievance), what sort of a working environment will you have? A grudging apology followed by deep resentment?

    maybe - I'd love to think that it would work.

    If you proceed with a grievance, you will need good legal advice, from your union legal team. It's all very well a school rep suggesting a grievance. There's only point in bringing one if you're sure you can win.
    There are other schools without bullies leading them. Better to polish the CV.
    Good luck
    agathamorse and JohnJCazorla like this.
  12. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Filing an OH report which is searingly honest makes the possibility of an effective grievance even stronger.
    However, the outcome of filling this report could equally be that the HT simply backs off. And if they don't, then not only are they a bully, but they are an evidenced bully.

    Stopping the bullying ought to be the first goal, not seeking to raise a grievance-you only do this if you have tried everything else, whicbh is why it's a bad idea to do this now. The HT needs to hear about the effect of their actions from an official source, which would be OH. They are procedurally compelled to deal with the issues raised in such a report.
  13. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

    IMHO that is a tad optimistic.

    I would think it more likely that they will become more difficult to pin something directly on them (getting someone ambitious to do the dirty work) so make sure you have all your ducks in a row before starting.

    Make sure you have evidence and lots of it.
    Make sure you have an end game and discuss this with your Union and or Lawyer.
    See your GP is it stress or something more?
    Have you been to OH before if so were the Reasonable Adjustments recommended carried out?
  14. Generalorgana

    Generalorgana New commenter

    I said I love my job - I don't love the bullying which shouldn't be part of my job and hasn't been for the previous 10 years I have worked at the school.

    I don't feel that raising a grievance will be the solution to this but it is what I am being advised by my union & their legal department. And yes, I have evidence and written support from colleagues who have witnessed incidents. I also have a written report from a member of SLT who has personally spoken to the HT about their behaviour.

    I want the bullying to stop and I want to be able to go back to work and do the job I love. I worry that the odds of me being able to do that are pretty slim.
    agathamorse likes this.
  15. opalfeet

    opalfeet Occasional commenter

    I raised a grievance over a completely different issue as the school refused informal talks- so in essence they forced me to lodge a grievance. The school backed down (was over a discrimination and pay issue- not bullying, long story!) and I was able to continue working there.

    Until several months later when I had gone on maternity leave I received a letter detailing a number of complaints which were not clear, but which specified I would need support on my return.

    I took this as my cue to find another job. This was clearly a result of the grievance, if I had stayed I think I would have been forced out in the end.

    You need to look for another job, the school is not what it was for you, I doubt the bullying will stop and bullying is so hard to prove in teaching.

    Good Luck on the other job though, unfortunately I am finding there are few good places to work in teaching anymore. I am in a new place and currently have a knot in my stomach due to the stresses already placed on me there.
  16. opalfeet

    opalfeet Occasional commenter

    By the way, I understand completely what you mean by you love your job, but not the bullying. But, you can't stay- it won't work for you
    Generalorgana and agathamorse like this.
  17. mm71

    mm71 Occasional commenter

    Lodging a grievance is a double-edged sword. You get your written record and that is sometimes enough to make the issues stop. However, you can also end up with a target on your back and are found wanting at some later date...totally unrelated to the grievance of course...

    That was exactly what happened to me when faced with a new principal who wanted to cut the wage bill by unsettling HoDs. After I lodged a grievance, I eventually ended up leaving anyway as they were about to end my contract because we had "different opinions that were not compatible". He's still there and the staff turnover remains high; he won.

    However, I stand by lodging the grievance as that was the only way I felt that I could protect myself and eventually leave under my own terms with my reputation (and self-respect) intact.
    Generalorgana and agathamorse like this.
  18. MissMultitask

    MissMultitask New commenter

    What I meant by playing the long game is this- currently you are off with stress so tell OH this and what had made you ill.
    Use this time away from the situation to take stock, weigh everything up. Disengage completely and look after YOU.
    Yes the policy is there, but in reality what do you need? A job, decent reference etc. Okay you have the union at your back, so take some time to consider whether a move to a less toxic work environment is a more positive way of expending your energy than seeking 'justice. Moving on will be your way to greater happiness.
    Do you really think that you will be in a safe working environment at the end of the day? or could you be a target then for further retribution later on?
    Rest, sleep, eat well, talk to those who love you, walk. This is the long game- get your health back, take steps towards getting better- then, and only then make those decisions.
    Having experience of many posters in grievance situations, they dont tend to end well for them, are long and protracted, cause immense stress and further hardship while all this is going on.
    Only you can make this choice with your union.
    JohnJCazorla and Generalorgana like this.
  19. starlightexpress

    starlightexpress Occasional commenter

    My view and approach with any situation where I’m not happy, for whatever reason, is to take stock, take control and to look towards my future. I like to own my future. I like to be in a position to make choices about it. Whatever happens in the past or present, with a future mindset I can view things more positively. Each time I have resigned, I’ve described the pulls, as opposed to the pushes. This gives the best narrative for future employment and positive reasons as to leaving. Keep the pushes to yourself and your counsel.

    In your situation you could use policy for your pushes. However, what realistically will it change? If people behave in a certain way, are you going to effect change? Ultimately, this place is not for you. You’re not happy and won’t be. You’re off work because it’s impacting on you so much it’s made you unwell. Take this time now to galvanise. Take time to reflect. Be honest with OH but be careful. Keep it to you. Be considered. Think about getting the best for your future in the way that is best also for your wellbeing and keeps you you. Using policy can get an outcome but sometimes can impact wellbeing. You want to exit a process or a role with you intact. Sometimes it’s best to avoid a policy use, even if you have all the evidence to see it through successfully (in one part) to retain you and to retain a good future.
    Future thinking. Keep things as positive as you can- for you. This is you keeping control, for you. Ensure your happiness in a way that’s about your ownership of how you feel and how in a positive and pro-active way you can make for positive change for you.
  20. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    I think it sounds like your time working there is over. That might well be hard, but in the long run, it is only a job, and there are other jobs.

    I have raised a grievance in the past. I didn't expect to win it, and I didn't ( it was n't exactly lost, either, complicated situation)

    However, I went into it expecting to lose, but feeling that I would always regret leaving without saying anything.

    5 years later I am very happy with my decision, and feel like my conscience is clear because I brought everything out into the open,

    It was the right decision for me
    sabrinakat likes this.

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