On sick leave due to stress. Advice needed please

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lonedad | 17:16 Thu 26th Mar 2009 | Jobs & Education
6 Answers

2 weeks ago, the pressures at work and their constant bullying made my friend have a panic attack in the store (she works in retail). She was rushed to hospital and was given a sick note which was open ended with a view to see the doctor in 2 weeks. The doctor told her to stay away from work and have no contact. I went into her workplace and handed her boss the sick note with strict orders not to contact her and I also gave him the reasons why.
The monday just gone, the shops assistant manager rang and left a voicemail saying she wanted my friend to contact her. This made my friend very anxious and all the time she had spent relaxing and getting herself straight was a waste of time as she is just as anxious as ever. She has been contacted yet again with quite an rude voicemail stating that its company policy that she keeps in contact with her store every week. This contradicts what the doctor has said which was no contact and to stay away until shes feeling better. I went in the store today to tell them to back off but they immeadiatly text my friend again.
Where does my friend stand? On one hand she is being told by a doctor that my friend has to stay away and has an official sick note from him but on the other hand she has an assistant manager stating that she has to keep in touch. Everytime she has any contact with them, she becomes anxious all over and again and its is stopping her recouperatioin.


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in my opinion, if your friend is getting so streesed by 1 voicemail that it put her recovery back so much, she would be better off handing her notice in. It's hardly likely to get better is it? Even if she does go back, they would have to change things to prevent the same thing happening

the doctor in my opinion has no authority to say who can and cannot contact your friend, and it seems more than reasonable that the friend keeps her work up to date on her recovery and expected absence period. the doctor can only certify that she is too unwell to work, not that she is too unwell to talk to anyone.

If your friend dosent want t han her notice in then the est thing to do, again in my opinion, is to contact her work and work with them to stagger her return to work, and make sure the changes are in place to enable her to continue working, rather tham maintain radio silence, so they hve no idea what is going on. After all the sick note, im sure didnt say "dont contact this person" and they only had it on your say so
Most companies have a policy in place where the employee must keep in contact if on sick leave. That's only reasonable. Asking the person to make contact once a week isn't unreasonable.

It would be unreasonable for the employer to be told they can have no contact at all. How would they ever know if or when the employee was going to come back?

If your friend insists on not keeping to company policy then I would guess that she would be in line for disciplinary action by the company.
Unfortunately I don't think there are any legal absolutes in this matter. It's a matter of company policy. Having said that, does the company have an HR department? If so, they are the people your friend should contact and whom she can ask to contact her if she really cannot face her boss, and she can tell them this when she speaks to them. She's likely to get more sympathy than from her immediate boss by the sound of things. Furthermore, in the latter instance, this could be construed as harassment by the boss.

This happened to my bloke last year and I'm sorry to say there was very little support here on AB. Most suggested it was his own fault, that he should quit whining and be grateful to have a job. It's not helpful at all and clearly such people have never been there.

However, he did approach his HR department and subsequently occupational health, and they've both been extremely helpful, as has our GP. He's also been redeployed and his new boss is now in the position, by coincidence, of investigating certain aspects of his old boss. It seems other people have had similar complaints and HR were prompted to do something about it.

I wouldn't advise your friend to hand in her notice just yet. In the current climate it might be difficult for her to get another job. She should stay on the sick until she feels she can go back because at least then she's still being paid. Only if then, if she really can't face it, should she quit. Tell her to take the money for as long as she can and to forget work for the time being (except maybe for checking in with HR as above). It's really just not worth the nervous breakdown in the long term.
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Thanks saxy jag.
I don't think it has to be your friend that phones each week with an update, perhaps you could offer to do it for her, then they can't complain, or even a memeber of her family

Some companies had a grievence procedure in place to deal with bullying in the workplace she should find out if they have one and start a grievance procedure, often they encourage you to stay off iff you have raised something like this

I know how your friend feels, I was in a similar circumstance, unfortunately the bully didn't get sacked, but it made me a stronger person, as I felt they were always looking over their shoulder after that. I have since than had the confidence to move company and feel very settled and happy in my new role, and I feel appreciated here
Please get your friend to join a union who will help to deal with this

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On sick leave due to stress. Advice needed please

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