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Working from home - getting signed off

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Peanut87, Sep 25, 2020.

  1. Peanut87

    Peanut87 New commenter

    Since working from home is not the norm, has anyone got any experience on getting signed off due to stress?

    I won’t give too many details but I’ve been allowed to work from home but become increasingly stressed as I’ve had very little contact or guidance on what work I should be doing then made to feel guilty for not doing much or stupid for asking for guidance on tasks I’ve been given. I keep offering to do more, even suggesting work I could do and I’m met with no response at all or a simple, “I’ll let you know”. Today was the last straw as I was asked what progress is made on a task I’d been given. I’d emailed last week for clarification on some of it but had no reply so when I emailed back to say I hadn’t been able to do much as I needed help, I was made to feel awful about it. I also have to go in occasionally to complete admin that can’t be done at home and the safety measures they said they’d put in place for me they haven’t stuck to which is making me anxious each time I’m asked to go in as the COVID cases are rising.

    Now this isn’t the first run in I’ve had with this head, and I’m not the only one who has felt like they’ve been bullied or pushed out (quite a few people left at the end of the year due to it). A few colleagues have suggested I get signed off but will a doctor even do this if I’m working from home?
     
  2. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Being stressed at work sometimes is normal in all jobs. Stress isn't, in itself, a medical condition nor a reason to be declared medically unfit to work.

    If the stress is causing physical illness and/or is so severe it is preventing you from functioning normally then it may well be a medical condition.

    And it's spectrum, people can have all sorts of different types or levels of stress and respond to it in different ways.

    I have no idea whether you have stress that is medical condition for which your GP would sign you off. And I doubt your work colleagues who have said you are sick from stress have the medical expertise either.

    So book an online consultation with your GP. It's the only way you will find out if your GP will sign you off.
     
  3. Peanut87

    Peanut87 New commenter

    I’m sorry but I wasn’t asking whether stress was a medical condition. I know it is entirely possible to be signed off due to work related stress. What I wasn’t sure of is being signed off when I’m already working from home.

    I won’t be able to get a doctors appointment until at least Monday as the appointment slots are on the day and go very quickly which is why I was asking people for their experiences.
     
  4. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    So what outcome would be the best resolution?
    Going off with stress will ease the situation for you temporarily, but not school, and easing yourself back will be hard.
    Your problem seems to be with understanding the outcomes the school wants. Maybe you need to ask more questions when you get the tasks. Maybe you need to show some initiative when you're not sure what to do. If they haven't told you what to do use your professional judgement, just the same as you do when teaching.
    We are currently in strange times when everyone is trying to work out the rules. I am glad I'm not running a big school.
    Good luck.
     
    sbkrobson, Stiltskin, Pomza and 4 others like this.
  5. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Usually, you can self certify for a week before you need to be signed off, so there is no rush to see a doctor. Whether the doctor will agree that you should be signed off, none of us can say, although it is certainly possible when you are working from home. But I suggest that you think about @phlogiston's comments above.
     
  6. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    In which case I don't understand your question. Of course you can get signed off if you were working immediately before you became medically unfit. Most people signed off for anything were working immediately before being signed off.

    Or do you mean will your GP certify that you can work from home but going into school is too stressful for you because you find the headteacher difficult to work with?
     
    sbkrobson likes this.
  7. Cantwaittogo

    Cantwaittogo New commenter

    I'm working from home but my doctor signed me off with stress.
     
  8. thejudgesscoresarein

    thejudgesscoresarein Established commenter

    You can be signed off when you are WFH. You need to obviously follow same process.
     
    Pomza likes this.
  9. hhhh

    hhhh Star commenter

    I read it as OP says they are stressed (and, like you, as I'm not medically trained I wouldn't be able to diagnose this) specifically because they are being asked to do things at home they don't feel confident with, and feel they aren't getting supported when they ask for help.
    I do know of a few very experienced teachers who had no problems teaching in school pre-Covid, but who feel they like the 'techy' skills to do things at home-they understand and appreciate that teaching online is safer than being in school, but they just don't find it 'comes easy'-and naturally people are busy and there's perhaps not the normal time/training we'd get when asked to learn new practices.
    If that's the case, there's lots of online tutorials, and perhaps you could ask other staff what they use, and for any recommendations? I found that when you take the time to look through things like this, it can be really helpful, and it's quite exciting for this old dog to learn new stuff!
    If that's nothing to do with your issue, and it doesn't help, sorry, but for anyone reading who might find it helpful...it's worth the few seconds it took to type.
     
    Newidentity and Rott Weiler like this.
  10. cheesypop

    cheesypop Senior commenter

    This is going to come across as harsh and it isn’t meant to be.
    You are not currently your school’s priority. It is incredibly difficult for a school to accommodate a member of staff working from home. They’ve done it, but giving you guidance and making sure you are happy is not anywhere near the top of their to do list.
    If you feel you need to be signed off with stress when you are already working from home, I honestly can’t see how you could ever return to school.
     
    IanG likes this.
  11. Cantwaittogo

    Cantwaittogo New commenter

    Yes it does come across as harsh. Especially your comment about the OP never being able to return to school. How are you qualified to make such an assumption?
     
    rolysol likes this.
  12. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    It may help to consider that GPs don't sign you off, they assess if you are fit to work. They can then assess that depending on your need and say you are fit to work subject to certain caveats or you are not fit to work at that time. So it is not where you are but what you are doing that is considered.

    Regarding the needing clarification parts and not getting answers, one thing you could try is to say in your contact that you are not 100% sure what they meant by X. Then explain how you interpret it and ask them to confirm that is correct. Give them a suitable chance to respond and if you still have not heard, contact them again and say that in the absence of further guidance you will carry on with your interpretation.
     
    rolysol, IanG and sbkrobson like this.
  13. Peanut87

    Peanut87 New commenter

    I do feel that this is harsh. I know I’m not their top priority and that they have lots going on right now. This is why I even gave them lots of suggestions of things I could do to help such as creating home learning packs for those self isolating or marking baseline tests or revamping out of date resources but I’ve been met with no response on any of these. Instead I’m being given admin tasks that I don’t have the experience to do and being told to liaise with the office staff who would rather do it themselves than have to explain it to someone else. I totally get that, it would be like putting one of the office staff in front on my class expecting them to teach but I’ve got to sit down for an hour beforehand and explain it step by step, it would be a waste of everyone’s time. As for saying if I got signed off I couldn’t go back is just ridiculous. When it’s safe for me to return, I’d have no issues teaching a class again, it’s not teaching that I have difficulty with as that’s not what I’m doing from home
     
    rolysol and agathamorse like this.
  14. clementinesandbrazilnuts

    clementinesandbrazilnuts New commenter

    I don’t think that this is true at all: it hugely simplifies what is a very complex issue.

    When we switched to home learning I found it very hard. I had only been at the school for three weeks and the systems and the way things were done were and indeed are very different to anything else I’ve experienced. Then when switching to home learning I found if I asked a question, I got some really snappy responses which to be honest made me feel like an idiot.

    I put it down to people being stressed and went back in September, but it’s continued and I am lost to be honest. I am physically unwell too but the stress is the worst part. I can alleviate physical pain up to a point and exhaustion and fatigue I can rest with, but I never get a break from stress. I wake at 3 in the morning, every morning, worrying. I feel like a useless teacher. I feel like a burden and a drain and a sense of shame. It’s horrible. And working from home isn’t quite a panacea - I found although it was preferable to being in, that I always felt on a bit of a state of alert almost.

    Anyway, sorry for that ramble but I do sympathise!
     
    rolysol likes this.
  15. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I should point out some protocols in school which might help your perspective.
    Firstly if you are allowed to work from home it is quite likely that not everybody knows why. It is more likely that your HT and HR are dealing with your absence from the workplace according to sickness procedure, in that they quite correctly will not share widely the reason for you not being there.
    Some people may be confused as to why you are doing any work. Other people will actively prevent you from doing anything because this is also correct protocol if you were signed off sick. And other people may feel resentment about how come you "get to" do your stuff at home. There will also be acute awareness of needing to manage your classes without you being there.
    If you ask questions about your remit, this will create confusion, so this may account for inconsistent or abrupt responses.

    You speak of "run ins" with your HT, which is not necessary, What you need to do is reflect on how in your place you can benefit your teaching groups. If you have no clear or consistent information, I would submit work for your classes. Submit lots of extension work, and lots of easy stuff. Keep sending it, and copy in your line manager and pastoral staff too, because some kids will also be working from home. Your priority is engaging them,rather than making sure they are in the right place, because that is the one thing that the staff in house do not have the tools for.
    Working from your own home,your school need you to be a provider, rather than an integral part of their structure. Send them lots and lots of stuff, a surfeit of lesson content, and allow them to deal with the logistics.

    I don't agree that you need to feel stressed, because you could be looking very simply at enabling the children in whatever small or indirect way you can. They employed you for that expertise, and you might not believe it, but they need you to give guidance to them, not the other way round.
    I don't agree with the need for stress, but I do understand it. Your issue is possibly focusing on adult interaction, rather than the supportive hand for the kids that you can extend.
     
  16. Lattelady

    Lattelady New commenter

    If your doctor has signed you off, you should not be working. It does not matter a jot whether you are in school or at home. The whole point is that you are meant to be recovering, whether this is from a physical illness or a mental one, you are meant to be reasting. The school should not be asking you to complete work, you are not covered by insurance and this means you should not be accessing the school's network to deliver work.
     
  17. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    AIUI OP hasn't been signed off and hasn't been to their GP yet.
     
  18. Peanut87

    Peanut87 New commenter

    But this is my point entirely. I have only been assigned work by the head and the office staff copied in as I’ve been told I don’t need to provide work or anything for my classes even though I offered to help in that capacity so the work I’ve been asked to do is well outside my job role which is why I’m asking for help and getting stressed out. The only people I’m asking for help are the people who know why I’m working from home. I’ve had no contact with those covering my classes because I’ve been told to get on with these admin tasks instead.
     
    agathamorse likes this.
  19. Lattelady

    Lattelady New commenter

    Apologies, I transposed a response from another poster with the OP. In which case, OP it is just the same as if you were working at school, you just set up a call with your GP to ask to be signed off if they deem it appropriate.
     
    IanG likes this.
  20. IanG

    IanG Occasional commenter

    I almost did the same thing. However in relation to the other poster you're right that if you are signed off then you shouldn't be doing any work be it at home or work.

     

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