Sickness absense issue with work

I work for a Local Government Authority as an IT Engineer. We are constantly over the top with work and not enough staff. My line manager has been having some personal issue recently and his attitude towards me has changed. He is constantly at my about my sickness and when I am at work, he puts so much work on me that I start to drown in it all and I stress out. My asthma is not severe I don’t think but it can be bad at times. I work in a depot which has all the road vehicles and equipment coming in an out so there is a lot of dust. Normally, I’m not too bad and I can cope with it and just have a bad barking seal like cough. Over the last couple of months though, my boss keeps threatening me with Personnel. Saying things like “You should be getting pulled up about your sickness absence” etc. He knows I only go off when I am really bad. I just can’t seem to shake things at the moment. I had a bad cold which went into my chest about 4 weeks ago. I then got a chest infection. I got signed off by the docs when I had the chest infection but it didn’t stop my line manager texting me to ask when I would be back. I was back at work a week and now I am full of the cold again and it’s starting to go into my chest again. I feel terrible but I have been dragging myself into work every day. Some of my colleagues are concerned and have expressed that I shouldn’t be here but I just don’t feel comfortable staying off ill. I can’t stop coughing long enough to answer the phone.

Any ideas where I stand with this? Can they pay me off even if I’m off at my doctors advice? I know I’m not a skiver and I work my butt off when I’m at work so there is no performance issues when I’m here. I have been off 6 times in one financial year but i’ve been off 3 of those since January.

Any input would be appreciated.



10 Replies

  • hi ash

    I cant understand why your boss is being like this as most workplaces understand that asthma can be serious no matter how bad you have it. You could goto someone higher if that is an option for you to take.


  • Hi Ash

    Do you belong to a union or is there anyone related to a union in your workplace? My union have been really helpful when it comes to work-health issues. Or maybe you could go to the person above your line manager? It's really unfair that you're being treated like that, it's the last thing you need when you're feeling poorly!

    Hope you get something sorted :)

  • It doesn't sound like your workplace is a very fun place to be at the moment! I know a few people have had issues with employers (the public sector seems to be worse) before. Have you had a look at any of the old threads, there might be something useful there?

    I assume that your local authority has a sickness absence policy, have you checked it out? Certainly in some NHS Trusts you can get referred to occupational health if you have more than 10 days sickness in a rolling year. Hopefully it would be to see if they could improve your working environment and to see if there is anything they can do to help you.

    Are you a member of a union, could you ask them for advice? Are you making a note of any inappropriate comments that your manager makes (just in case)! Are any of the other managers more understanding- could you have a chat with them?

    I think that if you doctor has signed you off then your manager doesn't really have the right to question it! Well that is the way it should be! Did you tell your manager how long you had been signed off for, and offer to post in the sick note?

    Hope some of my waffle is vaguely helpful! Just wanted you to know you are not alone. (Hopefully) I am starting a new job with the NHS soon, but have to have an appointment at Occupational Health first! As the job is at doing database/audit stuff at a surgery you would have thought I would be safe.

    Good luck and I hope things improve.


  • Hi Ash.

    I'm so sorry you''re having such a bad time at work. i have received similar treatment from one of the directors of our company who is convinced there's nothing wrong with me, but i do get support from the managing director who is a sweetie - unfortunately he's not in the office too much.

    I spoke to one of the asthma nurses from this site a while ago, and she mentioned that Asthma Uk would be happy to send somebody out to the workplace to talk to managers/directors/supervisors etc. about what you need to keep you healthy at work. It might be worth having a word with your line manager's line manager to see if you can set something like this up so that everyone understands what you're going through and what, if anything, can be done to minimise your exposure to triggers.

    Keep well.


  • Thanks for all your comments and advice. It’s nice to know that not all employers are like this.

    My boss used to be a good boss but he got promoted recently and now he thinks he’s big chief lollipop. I said to him this morning that I needed to make another appointment with the doctors today and he had a wee hissy fit. I told him I either go to the doctors today or it gets worse and I end up being off again. He said I’m on holiday next week so do what you like. The thing is there are only me and him that are Technical based staff so we are always swamped but he hasn’t been pulling his wait lately so the work has piled up and he’s stressed and taking it out on me. It doesn’t help that he has other things going on that are now impacting on the office and workload. I’ve spoke to him about it but he doesn’t see he is doing anything wrong. I am not a member of the union but I do know some of the union reps, I could try speaking to them. My line manager’s boss is on holiday at the minute but it would be a waste of time to go to him about it all. He has no back bone and would just say whatever I wanted to hear and then not do anything about it. That’s the joys of working for the public sector I suppose.

    Yesterday, after posting on here I printed out the sickness absence policy. It does state things about occupational health and things like that so maybe it would help. One of my colleagues in a different section thinks I should get in touch with personnel myself. He is in the next office to us and he says he can hear me barking at his desk and he sees I’m struggling. How can my boss not see this? I’m unsure what to do. I don’t want the work atmosphere to get worse as I know it will but I can’t go on like this.



  • I have recently had the same issues due to the level of sickness i have with my asthma which is severe and have had to have had several meetings with HR and Boss which until last time always went to alone as they said it was to see if they could offer more support. HA. lesson learnt never go alone. i took a represntative with me and the whole attitude changed also quoted HR policy of sickness and absecnce and the dda act which is now equality act. have got reprive for time being but it annoys me that accusations are made without looking at the overall picture. I was asked if it was something i was doing at the weekend that made me unfit for work on a monday! also make sure you get copy of the minutes of any meeting you have and check them for accuracy along with sickness record as i found HR had me down as sick for 10 days last year when was actually in work. luckily i could prove it thorugh work diary. but investigate all policies throughly . My asthma nurse art the hospital also suggested that if had problems to refer work to consultant at hospital or get a letter from him.

    Good Luck


  • I decided to call my boss's bluff and went to personnel myself. They were really good. The woman I spoke with said I shouldn't be in work and to go home as I was clearly unfit for work. She was concerned about me feeling pressure to be at work. Well, I planned to go home after my meeting unfortunately things didn't work out like that. I go carted away in an amulance from work. Spent most of yesterday in A & E. Fortunately it looked worse than it was. I'm just very sore and tired now. My boss has now got to change his annual leave next week as i'll be off work. I feel bad as he was meant to be off with his kids as its the school holidays but what can i do. Maybe he will have to do some work for a change. I'm grateful to my colleagues who where great and looked after me until the paramedics arrived. On a good note though, looks like my sickness asbsence thing won't be a problem. Just a pity it took a trip to A & E for that to happen.

  • Hi ashm ,Sorry you had to have the green men out but at least work will realise asthma is not just using a blue reliever like most do.Glad work understand now and hope try help you. Rest up and take glynis xxx

  • Thanks Glynis. Personnel seem supportive and understanding unlike my boss had been. He go a fright though went he saw the state i was in. I'm just going to rest up and take it easy. I'm not going to rush back like I normally would. Thanks to everyone for their support and advice on here.

  • Hi Ash

    Sorry to hear that you had such a traumatic time at work and hope you're feelilng better. The up side,if there is one, is that your boss has had a major reality check.

    Keep well.


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