Had enough of this!: I was signed off... - Asthma UK communi...

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Had enough of this!


I was signed off with stress arising from my school’s refusal to implement occupational health ‘s recommended adjustments and from their general hostile and dismissive attitude. My headteacher has kept sending emails asking why I don’t want to work and why I am being so difficult ! Now they want to put me on furlough until lockdown ends (I am CEV and can’t go in anyway at the moment ) and I really don’t feel able to decide what to do - the issues will still be there after lockdown. I was starting to feel a bit better but now when I get an email I feel physically sick and shaky. I really don’t know what to do.

35 Replies

Speak to your union ASAP. There are strict rules about contact from management when off work sick. Sending harassing emails is TOTALLY unacceptable.

Thinking of you.

I think you do need to speak to your union. Bevvy is right, they shouldn't be contacting you.

Oh my goodness! It sounds really stressful! I have no good advice but would echo the other twos response! It sounds like your head is putting loads of pressure on you!

I want to say follow your gut feeling.

Thank you, all of you! The union is involved but can’t seem to stop school emailing me. The rep is very good but just keeps saying that I need to feel better before we try to get things sorted. The trouble is that the uncertainty and the pressure from work make it hard for me to get better. I’m going to speak to my gp tomorrow to extend my fit note to give me time to decide about the furlough.

This year is full of challenges- from adjusting to my asthma suddenly becoming severe, lockdown, shielding and remote teaching, to all this! Not what any of us planned.... xx

Can you contact your area lead rather than the rep in school because, tbh, they don't sound very useful. An area rep will get the contact stopped because they're not allowed to do it.

Yes and don't open emails just forward them on to your union rep that's what I did. It adds to your case as like everyone else said they are breaking rules and shouldn't be contacting you while off sick. X

I agree about maybe an area rep. In the meantime, can you send a msg saying you will not be checking school email following medical.advice? (As if you have been signed off, you shouldn't have to even view the emails. )

The Head is being unreasonable and, in my opinion, based on what you say, has crossed the discrimination line.

As usual with UK law, it can be ambiguous if not yet tested in the courts - so the Head could move you onto furlough and off of statutory sick pay. However, if you're entitled to full pay while on sick leave, being furloughed is going to be detrimental and therefore you can say that you don't wish to be furloughed at this time. NB that The Head may go ahead and do it anyway but it's important to put everything in writing and to ensure the Head puts any of their decisions in writing to you.

Time to talk to your union rep again. Tell them that you appreciate their assistance so far, but the constant emails from the Head and the contents of the emails are feeling like harassment now. And the suggestion of furlough has also made you feel undermined. Be very clear to your rep exactly how you're being made to feel by the Head's actions.

You could email your Head and explain that you're too ill to deal with them at the moment but have asked your union to help and will be in touch (keep it short & sweet). That way you're keeping lines of communication open, demonstrating the current situation (very poorly) and also warning the Head that you've contacted your union (that may cool their heels).

It's hard to keep track when taking advice from your rep so ask that they put it in writing as well, so that you don't forget anything.

I've no doubt that your school has a "keeping in touch" protocol for staff who are off work on sick absence. It can feel like you're being harassed, especially when the manager challenges you rather than uses the opportunity to support you. And that's something you need to stress to your rep.

Wishing you all the best.

mylungshateme in reply to Poobah

Exactly that poobah. 🙂

TeachKat I'm so sorry you've had all this bother. I'd contact the area rep for your union. If you get no joy there, I would get some legal advice. It sounds like to me one of two things:

1. You're too good a teacher to lose.

2. You're headteacher is facing pressure from the board to get everyone on Furlough and so therefore puts pressure on you. To save money and hassle to them.

Bottom line is like everyone's said, it's harassment and it's not acceptable.

I would politely write an email stating that as you have currently been written off sick by your gp that you need to be resting in order to recover and that if there is an emergency to contact you via email and if not to please wait until your sick leave is over.

In that you are being polite but firm. Asthma isn't always down to allergies or general symptoms. Sometimes attacks can be brought on by stress and the last thing you want or need is to have a severe asthma attack and end up taking legal action against the school.

I know we are all worried about how we will provide education for our children and young people, but stooping to this level is crazy. The headteachers and board members don't stop to think about the mental wellbeing of their staff especially their teachers.

I've not worked a single day since the end of Feb 2020 as I was advised to leave my job because I was getting sick so often from picking up stuff like colds etc. from the kids at the nursery and then boom Lockdown happened. But if I was working I'd put my foot down. There are plenty of teachers out there who aren't working who want and need to work who could help in the interim as a substitute for you.

I hope all this gets resolved! I hate to see people in dire straits because of their medical condition.

Sending you a big virtual hug!


Thank you! The support really helps. I spoke to my gp this morning and he’s signed me off for another month and I emailed school to say that the doctor and I both feel that I’m not well enough to make a sensible and informed decision and that I need to be left alone to get better. Fingers crossed now. All this is so unnecessary-if they had only listened and shown just a little care and respect, we could have found a reasonable solution!

The Equality Act 2010 gives some protection in instances like this. Has occupational health put that in a. letter. It is unacceptable you being harassed like this. Speak to your GP about what they are doing and show them the evidence too. I would be asking to speak to an area rep. Sadly not all union reps are good or even know legislation properly. Document everything and if you can afford it speak ton a solicitor that deals with disability discrimination.

I think a lot of people are under the same or similar circumstances I've seen a lot of posts on this lately and I'm in a similar predicament 27 weeks pregnant moderate risk as well as spd (pelvic troubles where I can't walk)expected to return to work it's good they have offered to refurlough you I really wish they would me as I work with the public but as you said the issue won't go away so you have to make a decision and maybe get occupational health in .the annoying thing for me is I've had to sign lots of documentation saying their not responsible if I catch Covid despite them knowing my risks and my risks increase at 28 weeks it's a horrible situation to be in I hope things get sorted.i may try and get a doctors note if I don't feel comfortable

I would take advice on that your employer is not behaving responsibly at all. Are you in a union? Have you got a occupational health department?

They seem to think every thing is cosher I rang my doctor and they said I'm ok to work as far as they can see.we only have head office slightly anxious about going back but apparently it's the rules now they've changed from last lockdown

Ask your employer to refer you to occupational health for an assessment. Are you in a union?

As far as I know we don't have any of that x

As my work have offered me a seat to work between customers

What kind of job is it?

Retail but we sell essentials like medicine

I would insist on a occupational health referral. I would ask union to help if you are in one. If you can speak to a solicitor who deals in disability rights. When pregnant the law is very supportive. I am appalled they have forced you to sign documents that to me suggests they know there is a risk and are absolving themselves of any responsibility.

Yeah your right everyone I've spoke to said I shouldn't have signed because it's unfair as they are making me come back to work I think they have now become desperate as they made 6 people redundant and one of the managers took voluntary redundancy they couldn't really fire me due to pregnancy but have some how managed to convince me to come back they just keep saying I've had too much time of as I was furloughed since March

It is not your fault that you have had so much time off that is due the pandemic. Do you have a GP that you feel you can talk to again about this? Have you told your GP your employer has made you sign a document?

I never said anything to my g.p but I'm thinking if I don't feel safe this week I will definitely go back to my g.p I'm going to start tomorrow and have been given a letter to say I am part of Covid 19 worker authorisation and must show asked Why I am out and not in lockdown the annoying thing is I've not seen anyone stopped where I am and people are buying non essential good which we sell instead of essentials it's not taken seriously at all x

Although the news says furlough is still going they keep telling me it's ended and to get refurlough I need a doctors note .doctors have said I'm ok to go to work so I'm at a loss I think the only way I will get one is through my spd Being bad now but I won't have a full assessment till the 26 th November when I see a physiotherapist by face time

Please speak to your GP. It concerns me that your employer is putting pressure on you and claiming that furlough has ended. It is ongoing until March 2021. I think when you can I would be looking for another employer.

Yeah it's true

Please speak to your GP about all of this.

Ring up Asthma UK helpline the nurses are really helpful and available Monday - Friday 9 - 5.

Sounds like pressure is being applied to you. I’m sure your head shouldn’t be in touch like that Like others have said - seek advice from your union x 🤗

I asked the union rep to contact school and tell them to communicate only through her as all the emails were increasing my stress. School managed one day of not emailing me - I started to relax a bit on Friday. This morning - another email direct to me from my head! What is wrong with them?!

Speak to your union again. The headmaster is bullying and harassing you unacceptable. Can you not speak to Occupational Health again about this.

It's awful the way people care being treated nowadays.

If your condition is covered under the Equality Act occ health advice changes from "advisory" to "legal". I checked this with acas. Dies your occ health report say this ie a condition covered under Equality act

TeachKat in reply to Cal_

Yes, the OH report described the severe asthma and osteoarthritis as disabilities which come under the Equality Act and said that the implementation of the adjustments was a legal matter. My union rep is talking to school again today.

Try to read the company rules regarding contact while absent on the sick. It may say contact must be maintained but more sensitively in the case of mental illness.

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