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Work stress and sick notes

Work stress and sick notes

Hey everyone, appreciate any replies i can get in response to this.

I have recently gone on sick with work related stress, this is due to what can only be classed as bullying in the workplace..

im good at my job and have had no complaints from staff or customers, more appraisals than anything but believe my manager has a hatred towards me.

I do not have a grievance with any of my colleagues at work except for my manager, i have told my assistant manager everything in confidence, i do not have a problem with the way she works but her way of talking to others, including me. She is rude and tends to raise her voice alot to get attention/point across to others but i believe i get picked on more than others.

There have been numerous times where she has raised her voice to me and blamed me for things that have not been my fault. she doesn't like anyone talking back to her/answering her questions.

im not perfect and do tend to come in late due to where i live and public transport but this is no excuse. i was genuinely late the other day and my response was bcoz of the weather (snow) and the fact that the taxi driver found the snow to be difficult to drive in, the manager found this unacceptable and starting going on about how she lives 40mins away and still got to work on time.. but i replied in a calm manner "it wasn't my fault but im sorry.." and before i could say anything she just went off the rails talking bout threatening me with a disciplinary because of my added up lateness's and then told me to...."go and sort my life out"

other occasions my boss has made racist jokes in front of others which they have come forward and told me and are making their own complaints.

iv been shouted at for a good 10 minutes in front of customers and staff for going on my dinner early when clearly being told by the assistant manager to go (this is as i entered back into the store to have my dinner). my reply was in a calm manner that it "wasn't my fault and it was the assistant manager who told me to go and if there was a problem not to shout at me and sort it with them."

at this point i got told not to "chat back" as she eventually walked away... i found this unacceptable... and then went upstairs sat down and then the manager storms in telling me "if you don't like being shouted at then don't chat back"... my response simply was same as before "but it wasn't my fault and i got told to go by the assistant manager if there is a problem then go and speak with them". at this point she was fuming and raised her voice even more towards me and then threatened me with a that point i backd off. when something has happening there have been witnesses.

my friends have told me they overheard that she wants to get me sacked. or demoted to part-time and moved to another store. how can i win? i will leave but am stress and dont know what to do as i dont have sufficint time to go and find a job

i really don't want to go back into work but have been diagnosed with stress and signed off for 4 weeks and offered anti-depressants. i cannot face this person and she is well connected within the company and makes my life hell.

its a long message but appreciate any help or advice?


1/5/2010 2:35:20 AM

It IS unacceptable behaviour - it IS NOT true that the employer must make reasonable adjustments if your sick notes say "work related stress" (this is a confusion between sickness and disability); "work related stress" is not a diagnosis, it is an opinion - a doctor only has your word for it that it is work-related; and it is not true that you will loose your job if you go to a tribunal (if you qualify for one at some time in the future, because you do not currently) - and employer may or may not 'retaliate' but it is not automatically so.

What you need to do is start off with - how long have you been employed there? If less than 12 months, you can easily be dismissed and you may not wish to pursue this. However, if you do, you must raise a grievance explaining, and as far as possible, evidencing, what you have said - witnesses, witness statements and so on. If others have been treated in a similar way, it would be better if several of you could put in a grievance. Without a grievance there is no record at all of what you are alleging, and so there will never be any way of taking this any further - it doesn't mean that such evidence will prove that it happened, but it at least proves that you have said it did. Keep copies of everything - all evidence, all complaints etc. You will then need to see what the employers response is. It's difficult to predict that. Some take bullying very seriously and some do not, and their response may well be at least in part dependant on how good your evidence is. At this stage there is much more that you can do.


1/5/2010 9:46:09 AM

PS - just to add a note that persistant lateness isn't an excuse for her poor behaviour towards you - but it is cause for a disciplinary, and if you have less than 12 months employment, could easily result in a dismissal. It is your responsibility to get to work on time. An occasional hiccup due to adverse weather is one thing - but late on more frequent occasions due to public transport or whatever is not an acceptable reason. You must get to work or it will lead to disci0plinary action and you don't need to give them any excuses.


1/5/2010 9:51:50 AM

I AM correct - you are not. The LAW says that a disability does not exist except in certain circumstances - which "being sick with stress" (work related or not) does not meet for a very long time, if ever. You cannot make a claim based on a POTENTIAL effect - and civil law is (a) not employment law and (b) MUCH harder to prove a case against the employer. Simply claiming that you have been bullied does not make it true - as I have told you before it requires evidence. And simply becasue YOU were lost youyr job because, you claim, you made a tribunal claim DOES NOT mean that it will always happen in that way. Which is what I said - it may, but is also may not. My advice is legally correct.


1/5/2010 10:15:24 AM

I do not, like Bubbles, appreciate being shouted at, which is why you, Joachim, will be getting no more advice from me.

I do not care where you got this information from, or whether you think that merely becasue a solicitor said it, it must be correct - especially since you have continually claimed that a solicitor advised your friend on her COT3 incorectly, which demonstrates that they are not always right!

A disability, in law, must be long-lasting or likely to be long lasting AND must have a significant impact on the conduct of day to day normal activities. A few weeks off work with stress DOES NOT fulfill the criteria. The level of evidence required to satisfy a tribunal or a civil court, is significant and the poster has not EVER even lodged a grievance - chatting to someone about it isn't a grievance and does not count as proving anything. As I have already pointed out, you cannot make a claim based on what MIGHT happen, nor can you make a claim without any evidence - well, you can, but you will loose. If the poster wishes to proceed with any chance of making any claim in the future, the first thing to do is to submit a grievance. But even the, evidence is crucial, as I said, and if there are no witnesses or if they are unwilling to give evidence, it will be impossible to prove anything. An employer may, if they are inclined to do so, decide that they have a "reasonable belief" that the grievance is justified and act on it. A court does not operate on reasonable belief and will only accept would is evidenced.


1/5/2010 4:58:36 PM

Joachim...just a word in your ear about using capitals to write responses....not the thing to do...comes over as threatening and not good etiquette. undo the caps lock mate!


1/5/2010 11:18:32 PM



1/5/2010 11:24:40 PM

Joachim - using all capial letters IS shouting! Which is why you are causing people offence when you SHOUT at them.

And you need to understand something. On this thread we are not talking about your friends case at all. We are talking about someone who has been off work for a short term with stress. Nobody thinks that bullying is good, and not all employers condone it or defend it - but it is ALLEGED bullying, and in this case, not even that, since no grievance has been raised. What you told this person was legally incorrect, and whilst it may have been with the best of intentions, had the person acted on your advice it could have got them into a lot more trouble. A person cannot claim a disability when they do not have one, and believing that they had a right to claim under the DDA when they did not may have caused them to do something that would have been against their best interests.

With reference to your firends case, I have already explained this to you before. Having a mental illness MAY mean that there is a disability in law. But it does not ALWAYS do so, and having a psychiatric report does not infer any special privilege in this respect. The test in law is two fold - that it is long lasting (which is true of your friend) AND that it must impact on their ability to do normal everyday activities (which may or may not be true - having suicidal feelings is not, per se, qualifying under this criteria). This is why I have constantly asked you to get legal advice - because your understanding of what a disability is has been tenuous and it is a matter which, in cases of mental illness, even experts cannot always predict accurately. There is also another problem - you have said that the employer has discriminated on the basis of two separate disabilities - only one of which they were allegedly notified of previously, and this was (a) not necessarily a disability in law at all and (b) not the mental illness. Even if the mental illness does qualify in law, it does not prove discrimination, and it certainly will not do so unless the employee informed the employer of the disbaility and asked for reasonable adjustments at the time.

In this thread, you have again reverted to describing your firend as having a disability due to mental illness. In others you have described the disability as a reflux problem. In others you have have suggested that you will not use disability at all and simply go for unfair dismissal. As I have told you before, it is important that you determine a strategy and stick to it. You have made a tribunal claim. No matter how helpful the tribunal will be in terms of process, they will not help you make your case. And simply throwing out multiple and un-evidenced allegations to see if any of them stick will antagonise the tribunal. We are trying to tell you these things because it is in your friends best interests that you understand them. If you succeed in deconstructing the COT3, you do not ONLY gain the right to bring the earlier claims again (which IS NOT the same thing as being able to prove those claims) assuming that the new claim was within time - you also return to the employer the right to claim costs. As I told you before - it isn't part of it that falls, it is all of it. You must therefore be very careful that you do not act in such a way as to make your friend vulnerable to such a claim. That is why we want you to get legal advice and to use it to construct a case - even if the case does not win, having a firm argument makes it less likely that a tribunal will order costs. But ill-informed and un-evidenced mud-slinging to see what sticks - which is what this shifting of grounds will come across as - may result in the tribunal being less than sympathetic.


1/6/2010 10:25:57 AM

Joachim12, you are clearly not taking notice of shikara, perhaps I can help - get proper legal advice as she has suggested!!!!!! Shikara will (and does) help people to the best of her ability but she has repeatedly asked you to get legal advice.

Please do so!


1/6/2010 7:15:19 PM

Apology accepted. But Newman is correct. I realise that you are trying your best, and I realise that this is very confusing, but you really are not understanding what I am saying to you. It is not a case of me being right and you being wrong - or the other way around. What I am trying to say is that it is not anywhere near as simple as you think and there is absolutely no sure way of being positive that you ARE right! I realise that you care a lot about your friend, and I do not want you to make assumptions that will hurt her. And you are doing that. Honestly, you are.

In the first place, having depression and being treated for it for over 12 months does NOT prove she has a disability. She MUST also fulfill the criteria of it having an effect on her ability to perform daily normal functions (and with medication many people with depression CAN fulfill such normal functions) AND she must have informed the employer IN ADVANCE of the disability and the need for them to CONSIDER reasonable adjustments. You claim that they discriminated against her becasue they didn't let her have more tea breaks - you don't need tea breaks for depression! You are mixing up a medical condition and a disability. And I am sorry but you said she has had this condition (the depression, insomnia etc) for 12 months - you mean, since she was dismissed?? A year ago??? Sorry, but you can't claim anything that has happened SINCE she was dismissed as releavnt to the reason for dismissal. Sicknotes for depression do not prove a disability - because depression is not NECESSARILY a disability.

It was not, as far as I can see, the COT3 itself that was used to dismiss her. It was EVIDENCE (assuming you are right about the way it was used) to demonstrate that she had made grievances and a tribunal claim without any supporting evidence (that's what you said previously!) - and whilst I do not approve of the way it was used, my disapproval doesn't mean that it was unlawful, either to use it in this way or to dismiss her. That is a whole different question which may or may not be fair.

And the judge will not, frankly, give a toss that you were sent out - it is not relevant since you never had a right to be there. It will definitely have no impact at all on the employers case. Or yours.

I am not telling you these things to hurt you - nor for my health. I am trying to point out that your understanding of the law is very flawed and that there are gaping holes in your arguments. That isn't a criticism. Most people have no idea about employment law, and there are times when I wish that I was as blissfully ignorant as they are! But neither I nor anyone else here can give your friend the kind of advice that she really needs, and you are taking risks with her position which I do not want either of you to take blindly.


1/6/2010 9:12:41 PM

very funny :) lol


1/6/2010 9:28:19 PM

*bangs head against wall whilst shouting*

GET (bang) LEGAL(bang) ADVICE(bang)


1/6/2010 9:52:58 PM

thanks but?

hey guys thanks for the advice i really appreciate it.... especially you shikahra. im currently writing my complaint letter and have 3 more weeks off sick... still i dont think i will be prepared to go into work. I love my job but as said before no longer feel I can be approached by my boss. Iv been in the company 8 years in total ... part time and I think full time since june 08... but was planning on leaving at some stage. Oh when my boss was talking about sacking/moving onto part time was over the phone to HR..... my frend was stood nearby. i dont have exact time and dates of incidents but have the month in which they occured... i know my case is not strong but this needs to get done. the people who have been present at the times, i doubt they will write their own complaint as 2 of them are supervisors ( but i am still going to say they were present ) but i have got 2 others who have been present when i have been shouted at and they will write down what they saw and heard but they have now left the company. one of which is writing their own letter of complaint regarding the racism/racist jokes made.

i dont want to go back into work and am due to go to citezens advice over the next couple o days to see what they can help me with... as im not fit to go into work... but my boss being the reason. if i left how it would affect me financialy.... i can only be on sick for so long .. im not sure how this works? or wot to do? could i claim constructive dismissal? how does that work, im worried about income aswel?

like i said my boss is well connected within the company and by others has been deemed 'unsackable' as like i said she 'works' but doesnt understand how to talk to ppl.


1/6/2010 11:06:39 PM


I think selling her story to the media would be a good idea.

Employer are stupid to make people that desperate because desperate people are capable of ANYTHING since they have nothing to lose.

Lolas Cat

1/6/2010 11:30:11 PM

no_regretz - I am afraid that if you are determined to leave your employment then you must accept that you do so without anything. Cases of constructive dismissal are very hard to win (less than 3% win) and in your case the chances are exceedingly slim to zero. You have not yet even submitted a grievance so you have given the employer absoluitely no chance to resolve the matter. You therefore cannot claim that you had no alternative other than to resign. As for sick pay etc - this all depends on what your contract says. I wouldn't recommend resigning - in fact I would strongly suggest that you at least see what happens to the grievance. But the decision is yours.


1/7/2010 7:18:55 AM