Worried about work

Hi all

I'm just feeling a bit worried about work because of my sickness absence. I've been at my current workplace a year and I'm now on my fifth absence. But these absences have all occurred since June. I had two absences due to neck and back pain, and it turned out I have damaged discs, my manager then referred me to occ health. The occ health was really good, explained that I'm covered by the disability act, that I may have more absences etc etc. Anyway, after that I had a couple of days off for gastroenteritis, and then towards the end of last year I had a bad bout of vertigo. None of my absences have been longer than 4 days but after my last one my manager said they may need to look at managing my absence, referring me to occ health (again?) and she also mentioned taking disciplinary action.

Today I have had to phone in sick again as I've got tonsillitis and a sinus infection! I felt rubbish all last week but decided to go to the docs yday as my whole face was killing, he looked in my throat, said there were white spots and gave me antibiotics. But when I called my manager she sounded really annoyed and was already pushing to see if I'd be in tomorrow (we have an annual away day tomorrow that they like everyone to go to). I now feel really worried that they're going to take disciplinary action, it really annoys me as other people also seem to have time off for normal colds etc but they all time it so they don't get disciplined.

Just wondered if there is anything I should do in advance. I don't really want to have to go to HR or come across as too defensive at this stage. I just feel like some people don't have a clue what it's like to have a chronic condition.


6 Replies

  • Oh hun sorry to hear about that. You are covered under the disability act i would request occ health to speak to hr about this. Are you with a union by chance?

  • I'm not with a union, I'm not sure we have one? I will wait until I get back to work to see what is said. I'm certainly not going to struggle my way into work with these infections!

  • Hi, it's a problem a lot of us who are lucky enough to struggle holding onto our jobs face. The thing is, if you have a decent manager, decent HR support and a decent Occy Health person, then they can all help you and things can be good.

    I hadn't had a day off sick for 8years, when the lupus struck and I was off work for six months when my body went into what was the first of many meltdowns. My boss was great. HR and Occy Health were less so, but she gave me all the flexibility and support I needed.

    But following a restructure, I moved to a new boss, and she was awful. I was always on the back foot, uber-defensive. She didn't fight my case when HR wanted to rob me of the leave I had accumulated whilst off sick, even though I had regularly been doing 20-30hrs a week overtime unpaid.

    Another re-structure, and another new boss. But he was just as crap. A two month lay off for surgery, I come back and find out he's offloaded me onto another team. He didn't have the balls to tell me.

    Like you said, colleagues take days off for minor, normal illnesses like colds - and it's not a big deal. Even days off for hangovers are laughed off. It's not ideal, but I feel my sick days are more vindicated when there is a visible physical symptom. I can't fake tonsilitis, or my skin falling off, swollen joints, breaking my leg etc. But I am loathe to take days off when I am fatigued, when I ache all over but there is no swelling or bruising because then they think I am faking it.

    Hopefully, you have supportive HR and Occy Health people who will get your manager off your back, and they will allow you the work adjustments every good workplace should under employment and disability guidelines.

    Good luck, and don't let the silly buggers get you down.

  • Thank you so much. It's strange because I do get on OK with my manager. I just think she has no idea about lupus and I know she wouldn't want to hear about it either. My occy health guy was really good. He told them everything they needed to know without telling them every detail and he put in his report that I probably may have more absences due to my condition but clearly that has gone over my managers head. I don't think they would do anything just to be mean, and my manager I think actually likes me and thinks im good at my job, I think she just doesn't want to come across as soft and so had mentioned the disciplinary route. I'm not sure what even happens at a disciplinary but I hope it doesn't go ahead. Maybe I should have just struggled in with tonsillitis and a swollen face!

  • If you go on the lupus website there are factsheets for employers and employees. I had printed it off and given to my company to read

  • Hi Natal1a.

    Sorry to hear that you're having trouble and that you aren't feeling great.

    We've got a couple of booklets that you might want to take a look at. Both 'I Want to Work' and 'When an Employee has Lupus' would be good for you to read. The last one could be shown to your employer to help them understand your needs and how to support you best.

    These can be found here: lupusuk.org.uk/publications/


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