Have I said the wrong thing?

waggytail Member Posts: 9
Hi again, I hope you lovely people can advise me again. I was recently off work for 4 months due to a severe flare up (OA in knee and neck). At my back to work interview, the HR person was very supportive, saying they would do this and that to help me.

Reality is that although they said they would arrange for AtoW to come in and assess my work environment, they didn't and OT advised me to arrange it myself. I did this, they came out and made recommendations which were passed to HR. 6 months on and no adjustments have been done, although they are nothing too major. They also said if I was struggling I was to ask for help, and not try to do everything myself. This is not really an option, as I work mostly alone and nobody else is in a position to help me as they do slightly different jobs and are too busy to help me anyway.

During my time off there was some rearranging of workplace, and my immediate line manager had also mentioned at the meeting that it would probably mean more work for me. This has proved to be true and in the past few weeks I have been really struggling. Last week I felt I had had enough and advised my line manager that I felt I would have to ask for a transfer to another department. Although I have been doing my very best, the extra work and lack of support is causing me more pain and stress, a lot of which could be avoided if the adjustments had been put in place.

I am on annual leave just now but feel that if I wasn't I would be off sick again. I am completely exhausted and in a lot of pain.

I am now thinking that I shouldn't have said anything but I felt that I had to let them know how much I'm struggling. Although I let my line manager know how I was feeling (and he subsequently told the rest of the department), I haven't been able to speak to HR about it as the person dealing with my case is on annual leave until next week. I am worried now that they will see this as an admission that I can't do the job and use it against me.

I am going to try to speak to HR this week, but don't want to put myself in a position where they can sack me. Anybody been in this situation that can advise me what to say? Incidentally, my employer is a large local authority.


  • broms
    broms Member Posts: 24
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I am an ex civil servant and I went down the same route as you - I was assessed by ATOS and my line manager was instructed to alter my ways of working. Your line manager should have requested your work place assessment and it seems that has not been done. Can I suggest that you talk to your union rep - you have done all that could be expected of you and still the necessary rectifications (all be it small ones) have not been implemented. Your line manager should not have discussed your condition with your colleagues unless it had a direct impact on them and only after it had been cleared by you.

    I would suggest you get hold of HR as soon as possible - presumably you have a copy of the workplace assessment? If need be as your work environment has changed you will need another work place assessment to be carried out. They really have let you down over this and they need to rectify matters soonest. HR and the union is the best thing to do (you do not need to be a member of the union to seek advice although it helps).
  • waggytail
    waggytail Member Posts: 9
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thank you Broms for reply and good advice.
    Unfortunately I am not a member of a union and I doubt if they would speak to me without insisting I join, which I don't really want to do.

    I have tried to speak to somebody from the HR team but nobody is available and are not returning my calls. I have now emailed asking for an appointment to see someone. I feel my immediate line manager has been worse than useless in all this. You are right, I have done everything I could possibly do to keep going and have had no support so I think I really need to learn to stand up for myself (creaky knees permitting!).
  • broms
    broms Member Posts: 24
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    the union will speak to you regardless of whether your a member or not. You also have the option of submitting a (in)formal complaint against your line management chain for not implementing the agreed changes. I went down the same road you are two years ago - I got so fed up with it all I took early retirement.

    Has HR actually said they can't or won't help you resolve this? Under the disability act by law they must adjust your working arrangements so that you can cope with your normally daily tasks.

    All of the civil service manuals apply to local authorities and they have to abide by them. Can I suggest that you try and find the relevant articles and present them to both HR and your line manager. When you went back to work did you go back on full-time straight away or were you given the option to ease yourself back into it on half days etc?

    There is so much information that is available to you if you can find it all - you must also have occupational health available - they are certainly worth a phone call.

    Your right in that you have to stand up for yourself (creaks and all) as they will walk all over you otherwise. Keep smiling and don't let them win!

    I no longer have access to the full civil service iT network as I live in Ireland but have a look at this http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/health-wellbeing-framework_tcm6-38184.pdf and it gives you a lot of decent information about what should and should not be done. I suspect most of the problems lie with line management not knowing what or where their responsibilities lie.
  • skinnydog
    skinnydog Member Posts: 5
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi waggytail - I have just joined the forum and was struck by how similar your work problem is to mine. I have an unsupportive and pretty useless line manager who has ignored my request for a meeting recently. I am now going to approach HR as I am really struggling to manage. My job is physically demanding and I too work mostly on my own.My colleagues say shout if you need help but its so difficult , so ad hoc.I am off sick at the moment, the first time ever apart from knee op last year but I got to the point last week where I just couldnt cope anymore.
    I have to work , have to support myself and thats what makes it so stressful- how will I manage fiancially?I have no family to fall back on either.Friends are great but dont really know how bad things are - my fault probably as I tend to keep things bottled up.
    So I will be interested to know how things go for you.
    PS How great to find this website and read about others who have similiar probs, certainly makes me feel Im not so on my own after all!!
  • thecat
    thecat Member Posts: 22
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Waggytail,
    I'm a civil servant & I can assure you it is all there in black & white on the intranet.You could raise a greivance against your line manager but in my experience that makes matters worse.I had to do it a few year ago & my life was made hell !!!,it wasnt because of illness though.I wasnt in the union at the time, but I was passed to a union rep who didnt mind & got the help I needed. I must add that I won my case & it was worth it because it was something I had to fight ,on principle.
    Just recently my OH nurse stated that I had to have varied work every hour or so, my manager didnt act.my RA got worse & I had to have physio, when I went to work the next day my manager was off work & I had another deputy manager standing in, she asked how I was & I told her "not good" I just casually mentioned about the varied work not been implemented.She went away ,sorted it straight away & my varied work started.She told me that if it hadnt I could have stayed off indefinetly & they couldnt have done a thing as they had failed to provide their duty of care.
    Good luck & keep us informed x
  • GraceB
    GraceB Member Posts: 1,595
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00

    I work for a local authority in the south east of England. My post prior to my current one put me in an awful position, so much so I had 3 weeks off with work based stress. If they'd just made reasonable allowances for me and shown tolerance I wouldn't have had to take that time out.

    I'm now in a much better place thankfully and in a new role.

    Please speak to HR and try to be re-allocated to another role. If you can, drop down to part time even if it's just 0.8fte as a first step.

    Keep pushing for answers and record everything with your GP.

    Good luck
  • waggytail
    waggytail Member Posts: 9
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thank you all so much for your helpful comments & advice. Sorry for taking so long to reply, the laptop was playing up and I got fed up fighting with it as well, so waited for a friend to sort it out!

    Your stories sound so familiar, it is nice to know that I am not the only one in this position. Skinnydog, you sound just like me in regard to bottling things up and the family/friends situation! Let me know how things go for you. Broms, thecat and graceB, thank you all so much for the advice and link - makes interesting reading!

    In the meantime, after weeks getting no response from HR, I finally got to speak to a middle manager who spoke to them on my behalf. They want to send me for another 'health assessment', although gawd knows why as they paid no heed to the last report so it will be interesting to see what their doctor has to say about that. I think we are now playing the 'let's make sure all the boxes are ticked' game.
    Oh I wish somebody had the gumption to make a flipping decision!!!
  • mellman01
    mellman01 Member Posts: 5,303
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    The best advice I and anyone else can give you is if there is a union in your place of work JOIN IT ASAP, you might well need their support if things geot iffy they will also pay any legal bills if you ever ended up at a tribunal, they will also or should help you by representing you and being with you at any formal discussions with your line managers and HR, DO NOT go in alone either take your rep or another memebr of staff you trust as a witness avoid going in alone if you can help it it's a legal right you have so take someone with you never go on your own. But trust me when I say you need them on your side they can be a highly useful shield/weapon when needed.
    Also take notes of all times and what has been said to you by the line managers and HR, again this will be incase you ever ended up having problems, the key word you need to listen out for is capability, it's a catch all employment rule that can cause you serious issues so join the union today.
  • archaeobard
    archaeobard Member Posts: 30
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I agree with mellman01, join a union. I went through a sickness issue a few years ago without being in a union and felt I was walked all over and only kept my job by the skin of my teeth. First thing I did after getting out of procedure was join a union.

    I recently trigger pointed at work again on sickness due to RA. My manager said, "You're not in the union, are you?" I said, "I didn't used to be, but I certainly am now." He said, "Oh..." and rather than opening my sickness procedure where it left off last time which they should have done (it was basically 'pull your socks up or you are sacked'), it was opened as an informal meeting with Occy Health.

  • annc67
    annc67 Member Posts: 2
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I joined UNITE when I had the first disciplinary hearing due to being off sick (I have Fibromyalgia and depression / anxiety as a result), I felt that I needed protection in the workplace.
    I contacted my regional office today to ask them to help me with representation at my appeal hearing. I have now been told that it's a pre-existing problem and I can't get representation, despite it saying the following on their website: What if I have an existing workplace problem?

    For problems that existed before you join Unite, your workplace representative may assist you with internal procedures such as disciplinary and grievance hearings but the union will not assist you with an Employment Tribunal or Court claim. You will need to have paid at least one month’s subscription for assistance from a workplace representative.

    I have emailed a screenshot of this part of their website, but I've not heard a thing back yet.

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