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Work related stress: reduced hours = reduced pay? = more stress. Can they?

Discussion in 'Career clinic' started by superdupersenco, Apr 12, 2018.

  1. superdupersenco

    superdupersenco New commenter

    Hi folks,
    Hope you are having a better holiday than me.
    I have been teaching since 1990. I think I know what I am doing, most of my children do really well, make jolly good progress etc. Age - 49. That "time of life" where hot flushes and the other 33 symptoms of menopause visit: fatigue, memory loss, fogginess etc etc.

    I was told to take Y6 maths last July. "We know you get anxious but we think the challenge will be good for you".

    It was tough; I had taught them in Y5 and they were a very good class with lots of progress (which she later said was why she wanted me to take them again) - I had not taught year 6 group/ level of maths with the new curriculum / mastery before. I was comfortable teaching the y5 groups. Regular working hours were already often 65+ for all the usual reasons. I was exhausted running to keep up/ahead of them- but we soldiered on.

    In a November lesson dip that lasted for 25 mins in the week after Parents evenings, I was told that not having a plastic cover on a maths exercise book was "indefensible". AND I did not write VF in a pupils book when I went to help. True. A boy rocked back on his chair. True. My pupils had continued to make good progress in y6. I was not expecting an observation or specific feedback, I was expecting a dip.... My HT said she could not defend me. She has told me again that I was "indefensible". I asked her if she was surprised. She said yes, she was actually shocked, I asked her if she wondered WHY - what was going on? She did not reply but asked me if I was up to the job.

    Well that was the comment that finally made me take a week off to restore my energy levels.
    I was signed off with Work Related Stress at the end of November; given anti-depressants. GP agreed WR stress was exacerbating my lovely menopause symptoms. My Mum had breast cancer, so HRT too risky.

    I went back to work for 2.5 days after Feb half term- and absolutely shattered, not re-building stamina at all.

    Went to Occupational Health today who said that I might have gone back to work too early - for all the right reasons.
    The OccH Nurse suggested I continue with 2.5 days until the end of the summer term. With - and then I had an absolute panic - a temporary contract for 2.5 days until the end of the summer term, I asked if it could be reviewed at May half term.

    So WRS, caused by school giving me a new maths group without consultation, exacerbating lovely menopause (which is a disability) means they can cut my salary for the next 5 months until the end of August. This might increase my anxiety further- is this normal?
    There is no evidence at all for lack of any progress when I am teaching.

    Can they do this? Do I have any rights at all? When does the duty of care kick in? Please help.

    Superdupersenco- in distress.
  2. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    Good grief. Seek union advice.
    agathamorse likes this.
  3. superdupersenco

    superdupersenco New commenter

    I am waiting for their call.
    Can't believe I am in this situation.
  4. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I think the problem is that 2.5 days a week for a short time as part of a phased return to full time is perfectly fine to do and expect full pay.
    But if the 2.5 days is a long term arrangement and there is no phasing back to full time, even after SATs, then being paid full time for half time work does seem a little unreasonable.

    If OH is saying that 2.5 days a week is all you can do, due to health, then you need to go and see your GP and see if they agree or disagree.
    If the 2.5 days is all you can do at that school, but would be fine in a different one, then speak to your union. You presumably have been at this school long enough to qualify for six months full pay and six months half pay as sick leave and if the stress makes you ill, and you went back too soon, then staying off ill might be the right thing to do.

    I'd also suggest your union negotiate with your current head about applying for new posts elsewhere and attending interviews while you are signed off. Many heads agree to this, simply to lose staff they aren't keen on.

    To be fair to the school, they had a teacher who had done an excellent job with a group in year 5 and so they wanted that same teacher to take the class on in to year 6. This is a compliment to you and what happens in a great many schools. They could not have predicted at that stage that it wouldn't work out and it wasn't an unreasonable decision at that stage.
    What happens next may or may not be unreasonable, but you need your union and your GP to help.
    agathamorse, Pomza and JohnJCazorla like this.
  5. superdupersenco

    superdupersenco New commenter

    Thank you caterpillartobutterfly; really helpful.

    It was the "are you up to the job" and "indefensible" comment that was the final straw. Someone said it was bullying.

    I think I would have been fine in a different school, and fine if I had not had to change maths group- that feels unreasonable because then I would not be taking anti-depressants.

    Mortgage, pension, possible financial crisis as I am the main breadwinner - that feels unreasonable too. I think I have a bit of "What crisis? This is an opportunity ..." work to do. But I don't want to be a doormat or suffer more than I should.

    I will see the GP tomorrow.
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  6. gemxgcw

    gemxgcw New commenter

    Rather than bullying, this may actually be harrassment given that it is linked to a disability (menopause). You could get in touch with ACAS as well as your union. ACAS offer the up to date legal stance on workplace issues. They know their stuff.
    Don't forget, you are entitled to 100 days on sick leave at full pay.
    agathamorse likes this.
  7. superdupersenco

    superdupersenco New commenter

    ACAS is a great idea gemxgcw.
    Thank you.
    agathamorse likes this.
  8. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Much as I sympathise with the OP, who has been badly treated, could anybody give a link to something definitive which says that the menopause is a disability?
  9. galerider123

    galerider123 Lead commenter

    Why would anyone put somebody who 'they know' gets anxious in a more pressurised situation 'because it would be good for them'?
    It is clearly a lie. I would have been highly surprised if the situation had turned out well, rather than being shocked by the opposite.
    agathamorse likes this.
  10. carterkit

    carterkit Occasional commenter

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