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Returning to work after work-related stress

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by MrsO1512, Nov 30, 2019.

  1. MrsO1512

    MrsO1512 New commenter

    Hi everyone

    First time posting here, and I'm sure this will have been asked plenty of times before, but I'm not in the best mindset to trawl through forums at the moment.

    Im looking for some advice in the protocol of work related sickness, and returning to work.

    I've been teaching in my current primary school for several years. I absolutely love teaching, and still really enjoy being with the kids and changing lives.

    However, after a change of responsibility (YGL, and other responsibilities), along with poor management, class behaviour issues (which have always been great before) and some personal issues at home - I've begun to struggle.

    I did make this incredibly obvious to my HT, but as we're due to an Ofsted, no-one (not even SLT) has the capacity to support staff.

    I took the difficult decision to take some time off, as I realised I was becoming a different person, and I didn't want that person to be around children.

    I have been given a two week sick/fit note from my doctor, and have another appointment in a weeks time. I can't imagine going back before January - I'm really not in a good place mentally.

    I will be calling my union on Monday (many of these problems, I feel, are school wide). However, I'm still unsure what the next steps will be. Do I need to call my HT to discuss how I feel? Do I need to start thinking about returning to work and deciding what I need to continue in a healthy fashion? Would a union rep come with me to discuss this? Is this going to negatively impact on my career/the school? I've never been off before, so I have no idea what to expect.

    In general, I'm feeling really guilty being off (although I know it's the right decision for my mental health), and I genuinely do want to go back asap - but some things really do need to change, as it's currently not maintainable.

    Sorry for the rambling - please let me know if you have any experience of what happens next, or things that I should be thinking about etc. Thanks in advance.
    Charli3munch8 likes this.
  2. Veerwal

    Veerwal New commenter

    I am in a very similar situation. Also asked for help but ended up having panic attacks and losing my balance. Self certified for a week, then went to see the GP who has given me until Christmas. Feeling my old self coming back mentally and also had time to realise I do still want to keep my job (I teach a shortage subject so could look elsewhere). I emailed school that I would be off and suggested a meeting to discuss my return to work (before I return). School did actually get back to me saying to leave it nearer to my return date. I will wait for them to contact me. I have rang the union and told my story so they are aware but can’t open an official file until I get a letter/email from school saying they would like to have a meeting on such and such date and time. When I’ve got that date, I will contact them and my union rep will come with me to the meeting.
    My GP has also said that if school is not prepared to put ‘reasonable adjustments’ in place, he can write to them with recommendations stating I can not return to work until those are met (I think, not 100% sure about that one yet).
    Hope this helps, please look after yourself.
    agathamorse likes this.
  3. starlightexpress

    starlightexpress Occasional commenter

    As you’re off work and have a fit to work note, the school will be aware of the reason why you are ‘signed off’. I assume your fit note cites stress, anxiety, depression or similar mental health illness? It might cite that it is work related as you’ve said this. You’ve also referenced some personal issues.

    Typically, school will (should) refer you to OH. They may ask you to complete a stress linked questionnaire and then a risk assessment might be put in place. Your managing attendance policy should detail the steps that will be taken to support your return to work. This should all be part of a standard return to work process under policy.

    A union rep would not typically attend a standard return to work meeting. Your HT will follow the return to work meeting format, likely referring to external professional advice. The next steps should be agreed in this meeting.

    If you phase in to resume your role and then perform well in it, I can’t see any impact on your career. Temporary absence / illness can occur at times.

    If there is ongoing absence or capability considerations, then the school will follow appropriate policy.

    If you’re raising school linked things with union or HT, then I can’t comment on any potential impact in that respect. Consider carefully the difference between the work and personal issues which might be impacting on your wellness/ feeling.

    For now just take the time to get well. After rest and time out, things can seem better.
    CWadd likes this.
  4. MrsO1512

    MrsO1512 New commenter

    Thankyou so much for your comprehensive reply, @starlightexpress.

    It's a relief knowing that there is a clear procedure to follow, and that I'm not expected to chase up those sorts of things.

    I definitely feel it's work stress that is unfortunately impacting on my private life, rather than the other way round. I imagine that other colleagues may have already called the union themselves already, as it's becoming a very toxic environment. However, like you said, sometimes space away and looking at it with a different perspective may (hopefully) help for me.

    Thankyou again.
  5. MrsO1512

    MrsO1512 New commenter

    Thankyou @Veerwal for your thoughts.

    It certainly sounds like a very similar situation. Like you mentioned, I also want to keep my job and I'm desperate to be back to the person I was. However, because I don't feel like myself, I don't want to be in charge of 30 little people who I'm ultimately responsible for.

    Im sorry that you're also going through something similar, but I do find comfort in knowing that it's not just me feeling like this!

    Thanks again
  6. starlightexpress

    starlightexpress Occasional commenter

    You’re very welcome. There is definitely a procedure. The OH appointment will give opportunity to discuss the source of your stress/anxiety/depression. This is a good avenue in to that conversation as the report and recommendations will be shared.

    One word of caution. Look after you and your wellbeing. Do what you wish to do for you. Others may say they’re contacting union. Sometimes that does not happen. If you contact, speak on your own behalf and the impact on you. It’s your health. I’d say the say in conversations with your HT. for your own wellbeing avoid being the voice of others- they might not have the courage or integrity to follow through when it comes to it.

    I wish you well soon and I hope you get back to being and feeling you when you’re back in class.
  7. install

    install Star commenter

    Feel no guilt - you are not well. Continue to see gp and if they agree you are still not well then continue to be off.

    Your union may suggest a work place assessment of your needs. This would hopefully pinpoint what it is that is causing the stress.

    I would not call the head. I would simply continue to go to gp until you get better.

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