My boss, and other creatures

My boss, and other creatures

Right, now I’m bolstered by the forthcoming weekend, I’ve got the strength to write about the much alluded-to meeting with my boss earlier this week.

To set the scene, I returned to full-time work in February (on a rehab programme), having had 5 months ‘on the box’. I initially started on 50:50 clinical:admin work, which went up to 60:40, after my boss said that the Occy Health doctor’s statement that he ‘hoped I could continue with 50:50’ didn’t say that I had to, so she wanted to move me up to equivalent with my colleagues, as (and I quote) it wasn’t fair to them if I didn’t!

This was my final stage 2 sickness meeting, and I had received an email from her earlier in the week to say that she was happy with the status quo, and that the meeting was just a formality. Needless to say, I was not convinced, and rightly so! My union rep attended with me, and the silent-but-deadly HR advisor was also present. The opening gambit was innocuous enough: ‘how are you getting on?’ To which I replied that I was struggling, but that I was coping ok most of the time (this was later recorded in the summary letter as ‘I am very happy with my current workload’ – not quite what I said!). And then, it starts … ‘how about doing some home visits for us?’!

Now, home visits are one of only 2 aspects of my job role that I don’t do – I work full-time, have no reduction of my clinic lists, and am now up to the same work split as my healthy colleagues. The only other thing I don’t do is cover clinics in my admin time, as I feel that it makes me an unsafe clinician due to increased pain and fatigue. So I replied (as calmly as I could) that the Occy Health doctor had said already that this was not something I could do, and that I was unable to sit on the floor (without a crane to hoist me back to my feet), or rest a heavy limb on my aching knee, and that the constant spinal curvature would leave me with crippling back pain. She said that the Occy Health letter had only said that I ‘should’ remain in clinic, and hadn’t given reasons, and that my colleagues did home visits, so why couldn’t I? I responded that my colleagues didn’t have a disability, and she said (to my disbelief) ‘well, neither do you’!

I’m afraid I got shirty at this point, and asked her if she would like me to get the Equality Act 2010 Guidelines out of my car, which clearly stated the criteria for disability, and I meet them. She asked if I was claiming benefits, and I advised her that I didn’t need to in order to meet the classification. She asked if this was expected to last for the rest of my life (I bit back the urge to say that, if she’d read any of the information that I’d given her in preparation for the meeting, she’d know that it was), to which I said, most probably, yes.

She backed off a little on this point after that, and then laid into me for not having driven to the hospital to chase up my Occy Health appointment – I’m afraid my response was ‘I’ve been busy with my admin work; I don’t just use those sessions to pick my nose, you know?’ I think she may have got the message that she’d pushed me too far, especially with the rapid eye movement coming from the HR advisor, and the rest of this meeting went quickly and without too much consequence.

After that, I had to argue with her on matters of uniform – clogs are not ‘closed in shoes’, leggings are not suitable (even though she signed off the mufti claim form for them only 4 months ago!), and I won on the clogs, and surrendered on the leggings, provided the company paid out for the new trousers!

Lastly, even though I’d given her a folder full of 1) my current symptoms and medication, 2) fibro factsheets from the fibroaction website, and 3) research abstracts to give a bit of credence to my condition, I told her that my mate in physio was going to fix me up with elbow crutches. Her reponse … ‘What for?’ Clearly, it is so that I can beat her into submission with one, whilst supporting myself on the other! Even though I obviously don’t need to support myself, as I am suffering from an imaginary, exaggerated disease.

Sorry for the very long blog, but she does so much to wind me up in such a short space of time that it takes this long to explain! I can only thank my lucky stars that I barely have to see her, or think how close I would be to pseudo-regicide …

12 Replies

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  • Firstly I totally admire people who manage to work with fibro and other related illnesses. I can imagine you were fuming but from your blog it certainly seems you gave her what for in the best polite manner and am now imagining an HR advisor wearing a pair of joke spectacles with eyes on springs squinting evilly at your boss. That said please stand your ground and don't be bullied into physically demanding work you can't do or would make you worse. You have the paperwork if needs be get your gp and OHT to go into bat on your behalf.

    Hugs VGxx

  • hi, no wonder we end up with fibro fof it must be from banging our heads against a brick wall so often ! i am so glad you could stand your ground, i am sure your colleagues are understanding and believe you do an excellent job doing your share of the workload. she certainly sounds like a jobsworth who doesn't believe in our condition hugs x

  • OMG what an awful situation to be in. I'm glad you stood your ground. I love it when they try to tell you it's just a formality a move clearly intended to catch you off guard and not bother taking representative's with you. We go thro the same merry dance in the council. Clearly half these managers are in the wrong job and should have chosen acting as a career.

    Good on you for standing up to them I hope you manage to get the workload you can safely handle

    Storm x

  • well done sootyb

    respect,

    sandra.

  • You are an inspiration Sara. Not only do you manage to work, you fight jobs worth bullies and pave the way for those that come after you. Stay strong!

    Jane x

  • Sara good on you its so sad that in todays society we are treated like common criminals for having a disability that other cannot be bothered to learn more about it and how it affects those of us who have to live with it daily.

    I myself went through a similar experiance last year after qualifing as a mental health nurse and starting my first contract with leeds trust,( however it is not compulsary to let new employers know before your offered the position that you have a disability) I let them know before my start date so reasonable ajustments could be made, oh boy you could tell that if they had known before I wouldn't have been offered the position.

    I worked on a ward that care, support patients with CFS/ME and also Fibro, so I guess they really struggled when they met me with the condition but working. Well within 3 months the ward manager had pushed and found away to suspend me due to health issue then quickly followed sacking me (I'm sure you realise that this is the short version). I had the union involved etc, went for an appeal and won got my position back, however we agreed I couldn't go back to same ward as it would be uncomfortable not for me mind, but accepted a community post. it was a temp contract in the first place so I was only going to be with them for another 4 months, but that was not the point they should not be allowed to behave in such a disgusting.

    It certainly begs the question that if the NHS don't want to support employees with Fibro what hope is there for other agencies. I am so pleased you stood your ground Sara, its hard having the condition and even harder as we all know to get the message across to others hugs xx

  • I find it incredible that so many of us working in healthcare with RA, fibro etc., have to fight so hard against people who are supposed to have some form of medical training, or at least the empathy to be effective in a patient-facing role. I'm sorry to say, though, that we seem to be far from alone.

    I've always been something of a fighter, and fibro isn't going to stop that, although I do pick my fights more carefully now. The smaller things, I tend to chip my twopenn'th in on and then walk away, and save my energy for the larger issues.

    I think that what annoys me the most is that she doesn't even try to find out about it. I could accept her attitude to me more if she'd read all of the information and decided that there wasn't enough evidence to support the condition. I'd disagree strongly, but at least I'd be glad that she'd made the effort! But she seems to have read nothing about it, and just decided that for me to have an illness would be inconvenient, therefore it does not exist! If only that were the case, we'd all be cured! ;)

    Gentle hugs xx

  • I know EXACTLY what you are going through. Last year in August I had my worst ever flare up of fibro. The result was hospitalisation (they didnt have a clue) for 2 days and several months of partial palaysis. I spent 2 months in bed having my nappies changed 3 times a day and being rolled about by carers. In this time, despite being fully gp statemented off work, my boss took it to phone me for the third time in as many months. I had been off sick since May 2011 after contracting shingles and falling very sick after that. I managed to slide up the release on my mobile with my teeth but could not even sit up let alone get to the toilet. The ensueing conversation for 30 minutes distressed the hell out of me. He threatened me with dismissal and said it was my employers right to start dismissal proceedings against me. It hurt me, and it still does. I had been a local govt business analyst in health and social care with 7 years service. The last project I had worked on had saved their neck from central auditors and involved me working full time for 3 months despite not really being well enough to. It had saved them and drained me. I contracted shingles and have not been well enough to work since. I had told him I didnt wish to discuss any more on the phone and that he had stressed me by phoning about this. I also told him to back off as work was the last thing on my mind when i was lying in diapers and couldnt walk. He took no notice. I felt totally harrassed, and this was a double travesty as my as then boss was an ex social worker and SHOULD have known better in my opinion. 9 months later, and I have now been pensioned off after a fight. I had to threten them with their own incorrect and unworkable policies (the ones I had not gotten round to revising!). I get one tenth approximately of my part time salary, and that is what I survive on not being elligible for any benefits as I was in the process of selling my marital home, and the proceeds make me look wealthy. Its all worse than anything you would find on the horror channel!

    I WILL live to fight again, but I have vowed never to have another employer. I am sick to the back teeth of being bullied by those who should morally know better. Having worked in govt policy for so long I now buzy myself helping others whilst I also have started a small business to keep me and my son (he is autistic) "doing" something.

    We get by, and I dont miss the pressure of the deadlines and impossible local govt projects. In fact I would say that losing my job may have been the making of me.

    Its probably not applicable to yourself, so I do hope that you manage to get dealt with in a fairer manner and that you survive your struggle.

    I dont wish for much, but I have found myself wishing my ex employer to walk a mile or live a day in my shoes.

    Lots of hugz and warm thoughts from one fighter to another ;) NN

  • My boss tried this one, and excused it as 'it's part of the policy that we have to keep in touch'. Keeping in touch is one thing, but harassing people to come back to work is another. Luckily, I wasn't anywhere near as poorly as you, and my boss struggles when the person she's going at has a go back (it's almost like she hadn't considered that possibility!), so it sounds like I got off lightly. A mate of mine was threatened by one of my fellow team leads (when she was only recently back from a 'career break' due to a breakdown) that she was 'near a half-pay situation'. She phoned me in tears, worried that she wouldn't be able to pay her mortgage, and we worked out that she'd have to have 4 of the next 6 months off to be on half-pay!

    Seriously, managers suck, and I'm fighting this battle from the inside! xx

  • Yes

    Im sure you will win in the end. Justice has an odd way of surfacing eventually!

    Take good care

    Warm thoughts NN :)

  • God! There are some smug bastards out there! It makes me so angry. I hope to god I am never like that. Stand your ground folks, and give them what for!

  • Thanks for the support, all - you are all an inspiration, too! In many ways, I wish that I had the courage to pack up and leave, but, for all of the stress and frustration it brings, at least it's a job, and as I'm hoping to get a house (and hence apply for a mortgage) with my boyfriend soon (once he's had his insides removed), I probably need to be in the best financial position I can be in.

    Keep smiling, and gentle hugs! xx

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