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Off with work related stress and DVT - broke down in HR meeting- advice please

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by alissl, Feb 9, 2019.

  1. alissl

    alissl New commenter

    Hi, I would be grateful for any advice as I feel like I am at a crossroads.

    I've been teaching a while - since 2002 - and have always liked and worked hard at my local Academy (part of local college) since 2014.
    I originally applied because it was part time and I wanted more of a work/life balance but I agreed to do full time. At first everything felt new and exciting and I did really well. As it's FE I was given the option to change my hours a couple of years ago so I dropped to four days.

    I carried on teaching with a full TT which was crammed into four days. Although a little resentful at this, I decided to carry on but the amount of marking - I teach English - and the pressures of full days eventually led to me not going in in January. I went straight to the GP and broke down, she signed me off with stress.

    I arranged a meeting to reduce my hours, despite being off. I asked to drop another day. However, I then was diagnosed with DVT and had a big scare with a blood clot. I am now on blood thinning and iron tablets.

    The hospital gave me another sick note until the end of January which was then extended by my GP (which runs until the 25th Feb, first day back after half term.) I contacted HR as I thought it would make me feel better if I could resolve the teaching hours issue. This Tuesday I had a meeting with the Head, someone from HR and my regional union rep. It did not go as planned. I had filled in a stress questionnaire and had been honest about what had led to my symptoms - not sleeping, chest pains, etc. These were mainly the marking load and my hours. I also pointed out that I had a heavier TT than some FT staff. Without sounding unprofessional, the Head is young and has employed his friends in a certain department. There is a lot of grumbling about the differences in treatment for the staff.

    I found the HR employee to systematically argue against each of my points in my questionnaire. The Head was also very defensive.
    I then told them that I thought that this meeting was arranged (by myself!) to address a drop in my working hours. I was given a flexible working form to fill in, but the HR woman said that it would be difficult to recruit for one day.

    I ended up breaking down into tears and had to leave the room. When I returned, I was told to fill in the form but the rep told me I was not in a fit state to fill it in now.

    I was so upset by the experience, and have been since, that I have written to the Director of HR - I was controlled in my email and shared what had happened. I also went to my GP who printed off my medical records since Jan.

    I am now feeling anxious about the outcome of the application. Part of me thinks that they have to accommodate as a duty of care to staff, but the other part thinks that because of what I had put in the questionnaire, and brought up in the meeting, the Head will not help me, citing recruitment or something else as the problem.

    As this is ongoing, it is not helping me with the stress that I am signed off with. I will have been off for a full half term, but this situation has made me feel terrible. Can anyone offer me any advice on what I can do to help my cause?
  2. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    I'm not the right person to advise re. the part time hours and work load, but you have my sympathies with regard to the DVT. I was off work for 15 weeks with mine (7 were the summer holiday) and it still gives me pain now.
    Blood thinners (assume it's warfarin) make you very tired, which doesn't help with the emotions. Enjoy the sexy compression stockings when you get them!

    I hope you get more answers soon.
  3. alissl

    alissl New commenter

    Thank you for your reply. I am taking Apixaban - and I do feel really tired. I didn't think that it was a side effect of the medication - I just thought it was after the meeting I have mentioned above! Were you okay going back after your time off? Did you ask for any work - related adjustments?
  4. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    What do your union say? You ARE in a union, aren't you?
    So sorry to hear that they have not been as supportive as you had hoped. But the GP is clearly on your side and so are the union.
    Take care of yourself. Try to relax, enjoy the forthcoming Spring and rest.
    agathamorse, alissl and pepper5 like this.
  5. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    I had a phased return and I found being on my feet for so long exhausting, even at that stage. Pain is exhausting!

    Feel free to PM me if I can be of any help.
    agathamorse, alissl and pepper5 like this.
  6. alissl

    alissl New commenter

    Thanks - it's good to know that there are teachers out there who have DVT and can offer support! It sounds like your school were supportive.
  7. alissl

    alissl New commenter

    Yes, I'm in the NEU. He said that I just have to wait for their reply now.
    Thanks - it's just always at the back of my mind.
  8. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    It will lurk at the edge of your mind - or the front at 3am... But at the moment, they are right. You can do nothing until their next move.
    Keep as positive as you can. Best of luck!
    agathamorse and alissl like this.
  9. Bedlam3

    Bedlam3 Star commenter

    You have your Union rep involved who will help you negotiate with your employers. It will be stressful so you will need to look after yourself during this time. Follow your doctors advice and also go out for a walk every day especially when the sun is out. Try to eat healthily. Be kind to yourself.
    From my experience HR people can be quite vicious and always take the side of the employer. You will need to stay strong and continue to challenge them as you are doing. Standing up for yourself is never easy but you are doing the right thing. You cannot continue to be treated unfairly.
    Has your union rep suggested following the colleges grievance process? It may be worth asking him or about this.
    alissl likes this.
  10. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    Read the above as, Go out for a walk if your DVT allows.
    I didn't go out for three weeks apart from for blood tests and to buy codiene!
    agathamorse and alissl like this.
  11. alissl

    alissl New commenter

    Thanks - I will try not to worry in the mean time. Thanks for your advice!
    mothorchid likes this.
  12. baitranger

    baitranger Senior commenter

    I understand this to mean that your employment status was full time and that you continued to get full time pay. The difference was that you did all of your hours over four days instead of five. In FE, that could mean that you had to work two or three evenings and that any time between teaching lessons was taken up with the one million and one things that had to be done urgently. You may not have had time to do marking in the evenings because you were working until 9 or 9.30 pm and by the time you got home, you were in no state to do marking.So, doing full time over four days was a job for Superman, not an ordinary mortal.
    I'm not sure what this means. Did you ask to be a fractional employee, doing 0.6 ? Surely you didn't ask to do full time hours over three days?
    You say you were "a little resentful" at having to do your full time timetable over four days-but what did you expect? You were-presumably-being paid as a full time employee, getting full time pension benefits, full time sick pay etc.
    Again, I'm not entirely clear what this means. If you were employed as a full time member of staff , doing your hours over four instead of five days, a heavy TT was only to be expected. If however, you had changed your contract to 0.8, of course it would be wrong for you to be given full time teaching hours. You say you initially agreed to do your hours over four days as you thought it would give you a better work/life balance. That did not work out because it made you ill.
    I think you need to clarify in your own mind what you want. Do you want to continue drawing a full time salary or are you prepared to drop down to 0.6 and do your reduced hours over three days? Can manage your outgoings with less income and if not, what changes can you make in order to manage? I don't think your employer is likely to reduce your hours but pay you a full time salary.
  13. alissl

    alissl New commenter

    Yes, I was completely unprepared - mentally, I mean - for the meeting. I thought that it would be supportive. I understand that I can take it to appeal if my application is rejected. The union hasn't suggested about the grievance process, but I will definitely look into it. Thanks for your advice.
  14. bajan

    bajan Occasional commenter

    I thought the OP originally worked full time then reduced their days to 4 but was still expected to do the same amount of work as they did in 5 days. They have now requested to drop another day i.e to 3 days.

    OP Have you been referred to occupational health?
    agathamorse likes this.

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