1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

They won't let me go back to work....

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by MUSICJO, Dec 8, 2018.


    MUSICJO New commenter

    Hello! I was wondering if I could get some advice please. I work in a school .A week ago I was signed off work with work related stress for 2 weeks. A week on and I feel much better and I would like to go back to work. I met with my head teacher yesterday who said that I can not come back to work as my fit note is for 2 weeks and says I am not fit for work for 2 weeks and therefore she ended the meeting. I was under the impression that whatever your fit note states, you can return before that period? The head told me that my gp had to give me a letter saying I am fit for work but my gp said I can just return. Where do I stand legally with all this? I just want to go back to work early. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
  2. serenitypolly41

    serenitypolly41 Occasional commenter

    The thing is, as you've been signed off my a medical professional it is them you must go back to for an assessment to be deemed fit for work. The school want their opinion in writing. I know your saying that in your mind you are well but isn't it best to be sure by a doctor? I'm guessing they can issue you with a note to say this employee is well enough to come back provided that you check their wellbeing weekly and ensure that support is in place.
    pepper5 likes this.
  3. Mermaid7

    Mermaid7 Occasional commenter

    As far as I know, the fit note states that you will be fit to return to work on the date it says - I think there could be an issue with insurance if you return earlier. The NHS site advises,
    “In some cases, your employer may not be able to agree to your early return. If this happens you should stay off work until the end date of your fit note.

    For example this might happen if your employer is unable to make the required workplace adjustments. They will need to carry out a suitable risk assessment.
  4. mothergoose2013

    mothergoose2013 Occasional commenter

    I'm not sure where this sits in 'legal' terms, but I suspect your head is looking after you and herself in a potentially difficult situation. A week is not a long time, work related stress takes much longer to recover from, it is possible that your absence is the first indicator for her that you feel overloaded, it is also possible that you are experiencing a temporary lift due to the week off or are 'convincing yourself that you are better. When we are ill with work related stress we lose perspective and also try to retain control, I went back after my first fortnight off declaring, and genuinely believing I was better and could 'power through', I had no idea that my behaviour was telling a different story.
    Take the second week off and use it to look after yourself. At worst the head is playing by the rules to protect herself, at best she is looking after both your interests out of compassion; both options are sensible and neither is worth getting into a row over.
    Take care of yourself x

    MUSICJO New commenter

    Thanks. More than anything I am just really worried about loosing my job as I am off sick.
  6. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    I believe your Head is correct and that you are not supposed to return to work until the end of the period stated on the fit note, and to over-rule this, you need a GP's consent. I think it's an insurance thing.
    Your job really shouldn't be threatened by this. If you honestly think it might be, I would suggest you might not be thinking clearly, and this is one of the signs of WRS. Trust your GP. Make a note of your conversation with the Head and keep it somewhere safe, just on the off-chance that your fears are not baseless, but mostly, keep safe at home and rest. WRS takes more than a week to get over, and if the cause is work (Clue is in the name) then not much is likely to have changed and you'll just be off again.
    Take care.
  7. mothergoose2013

    mothergoose2013 Occasional commenter

    Does it make sense for you to be worried about that? Are you on an attendance warning? Have you had a lot of time off?
    Even if you are / have, trying to force yourself back when you are unwell is unlikely to improve your situation or help the kids / the head. If you aren't haven't, then ask yourself if your worrying is rational or if it is a stress reaction.
    If your mind and body are shouting at you to slow down the most efficient response is for you to do just that.
    Life has a funny way of solving problems for us when we let go. Being ill with stress prevents us from seeing other possibilities.
    agathamorse and mothorchid like this.
  8. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    If you are really bothered about it, couldn't you go back to your GP to be signed off as fit to work? But personally, I wouldn't bother. At least your Head knows you are keen.

    I know little of the law on this, but I do wonder if a school might be seen to be breaching its duty of care if it allowed you to return when a doctor thought that you should not.
    agathamorse and ATfan like this.
  9. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    I actually get where you are coming from OP - I once realy wanted to return to work after a physical injury but was still in the middle of a sicknote period.

    Its a bit like antibiotics your sick note, don't take them all and you will get ill again. You were signed off for 2 weeks. Your Head has even told you verbally not to return. Legally I don't know the position either but on paper you are off sick, as there is no note from your GP. It doesnt matter how and why there is no note, you are, officially, on paper too ill to work still, however you feel. The fact you are feeling much better is great, but stress needs a longer recovery period. Don't feel guilty. SLT are paid the big bucks to sort your cover out. Enjoy your time off. Go on winter walks. Go Christmas shopping.
    agathamorse, -myrtille- and Lalad like this.
  10. lrw22

    lrw22 Senior commenter

    I agree with other posters. This head is acting with the very best of intentions and not trying to make life difficult for you. I believe there can be insurance issues with you being at work if signed off sick.

    MUSICJO New commenter

    Thanks everyone. I was stressed at work and now stressed not being at work. Not great.
    agathamorse, ATfan and grumpydogwoman like this.
  12. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    The thing is that you are suffering from stress. It has been diagnosed by your GP as WRS. However, your body and brain don't know that. They are still struggling with the symptoms of stress, so you still feel stressed. That is normal.
    Take your time, rest, relax and breathe. Sufficient unto the day...
  13. Grandsire

    Grandsire Star commenter

    Great advice on here. It’s the same as a physical illness - there’s a point where you begin to feel better and think that you’re well enough to go back in - probably.. (anything to stop the guilt at being off!), but experience has taught me I can easily get sick again by trying to go back too soon... there’s usually a day when I think I’m better, but not well enough to cope with the full demands of the job, and it takes a couple more days to get over it completely.

    When I had a bit of an accident a few years back and had to have some time off, I wasn’t allowed into work even though I wanted to, because of issues with their insurance. It made sense: I’d been signed off, and though I was allowed to pop in and say hello from time to time, they wouldn’t have me working there. Mental health issues should be treated exactly the same.

    Be grateful you have a HT who is trying to look after you and not put the pressure on. Use the rest of the time to get really well. It’s a tough job and you need to be fully recovered. Enjoy the time as much as you can - maybe you could get your Christmas cards written and posted nice and early (something I rarely manage!)

    Best wishes.
  14. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    No idea if your head is right or wrong, but if both they and the doctor have said not to go back for another week, there is no sense in arguing it.

    Sacked for being off sick doesn't generally happen after a fortnight, nor when the head has said you can't return.
    mothergoose2013 and agathamorse like this.
  15. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    Your HT is trying to protect you and herself.

    A sick note is a legal document stating you are not fit for work. Your GP will decide when you're fit for work.
    mothergoose2013 and agathamorse like this.
  16. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    Does the sick note take you past the end of term? Is that the problem?
  17. smurphy6

    smurphy6 Lead commenter

    Relax and have the second week knowing both your GP and your HT think it is the right thing for you at this moment in time.
    FollyFairy likes this.

Share This Page