Letter from work! What should I think?

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Letter from work! What should I think?

Postby countyfan » Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:56 pm

Hi,

Have been off work for the past fortnight with what the doctor put on the sick-note as 'Stress related disorder and Fibromyalgia' Today I received a letter from the head office of the company, which is based in London, so we don't have any HR. Occupational Health or such like, actually on the local site.
The wording was as follows 'I acknowledge the receipt of your medical certificate, for the period of 2 weeks, ending on 4th February 2013', all fine so far but even though I have Fibro, this is the first time that I have been off for the past 12 months! It continues;
'Given your recent episodes of fainting at work, coupled with your forgetfulness and tearfulness on occasion, as well as your ongoing illness and latest (Only) my brackets, medical certificate for stress, we are naturally very concerned about your health and welfare and the affect this may have on your abilities at work'
They want to contact my GP for her opinion. The problem is that, I am due to have an operation on my cervical spine on 9th March, for which I am going to need at least 10 weeks off work. As this is not directly related to the FM (or stress, although I suppose I am a bit anxious about it) will this impact on their decisions. I get the impression that they are trying to build a case for the fact that I am not able to do my job satisfactorily. It's obvious that my immediate boss has phoned them, complaining about my forgetfulness and tearfulness. I won't go into the details about him now, but have had a few battles about downgrading me (and now he's got his opportunity)
Was hoping to get back to work for the month before the op but since getting the letter, I know they are all talking about me behind my back and feel again that I can't face it. Also have just heard that my Mum has been rushed into hospital with cheast pains, so am anxious about her too now.
What do people think about the letter? Am I reading too much into it or what?
Would value your opinions.
Thank you :(
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Re: Letter from work! What should I think?

Postby andrew623 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 2:12 pm

Hi,

Maybe it's worth making an appointment with your GP to discuss this. Also, could you ask your GP not to disclose your impending cervical spine op as i'm guessing your head office only want medical info on your Fibro. Also, how long have you been diagnosed? If only recently, maybe your GP could advise that there are further treatments available for you to try so this is a flare up which should be better managed with further treatment.

Regards,
Andrew
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Re: Letter from work! What should I think?

Postby countyfan » Wed Jan 30, 2013 2:29 pm

Thanks for your reply Andrew.

I was diagnosed in March 2011, after initially being thought to have had RA or similar. It turns out that I do have quite severe OA though-hence the spinal problems-I also have cyst on a lumbar ganglion! Thing is that I was trying not to have to be off- hence the sometimes tearful outburst when things got too much for me. In a way, it wouldn't be the end of the world if I ended up having to give up work. I'm a 54 year old woman and was in work so long because of paying school fees for my kids (Youngest now 16 and leaves in June , so only a few more months to go) I just don't want to give in and just go, as I think they want me to agree to. Surely they can't just sack you because you're ill? I have kept a record of instances where I have been bullied and discriminated against, so will try and fight for constructive dismissal if they do!
:roll:
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Re: Am I being paranoid?

Postby bluesheep » Wed Jan 30, 2013 2:46 pm

It may just be they are trying to cover thier own backs and can say they offer you adeqate support. But any letters from your employers to GP and GP to employers you can request to see copies of first before they are sent, so it may be worth speaking to your GP in advance he/she may be able to put your mind at rest.

Stress makes fibro worse so with the stress of your operation getting closer and your mum being unwell is bound to make anyone anxious and tearfull so to be contending with that and the fibro it's no wonder you are struggling. Do your employer fully understand Fibro? maybe by explaining it to them and letting them know how much you have on your plate at the moment they could help you make your woking hours more flexible or take some of your work load from you to take the preasure off you until after your operation.
Maybe with the support of head office your manager will calm a bit which will mean less stress for yo and maybe less forgetfulnes etc.

I had a similar problem myself with my manager hated me (she hated anyone who didn't grovel at the feet) I phoned head office and spoke to the assistant director and said that I wanted to resign because I couldn't cope with working with a manager who constantly belittled me etc she was angry not with me but with my manager and said no one else was leaving the company because of the manager and came down on her like a ton of bricks and the manager left. So it might be head office know what your manager is doing and they just want evidence to back you up with.

Sending you a:hugs: and I hope your Mum is OK and :goodluck1:with your op. hope you feel better soon
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Re: Am I being paranoid?

Postby LouLou » Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:17 pm

Hi Countyfan

I can understand why you are getting a bit worked up about this letter, but after reading it through I agree with bluesheep in that it seems they are following policy in investigating your condition and the effects it's having on your work. Basically it's to cover their back.

I'm having a few issues with work at the moment so I know how you feel. It's so frustrating when you are trying to do a job and do it to the best of your ability while coping with FM and all of life's other stresses. I don't know the exact wording but if you google the Disability act (I think it's still called that) it should explain your rights at work. They can't sack you for having an illness and should offer adequate support to help you do your job. I think that's right but google it too as I think it will help you.

Also sticking with what bluesheep has said, stress definitely makes FM symptoms much worse in most people. Like you I have a few things going on which have really stressed me out and my pain level is getting worse by the day. I really do hope everything is ok with your mum. I would say try your best to relax and not get worked up but as I'm struggling to do that myself I know it's easier said than done.

Back to the work stuff, it's really hard to say as I don't know how your company works. You should definitely ask for copies of all letters sent between your work and GP. It may be worth making your own list of your responsibilities/duties at work and make a note of anything that can help you carry them out better or any improvements you think could be made to help you at work more. I'm currently fighting for a laptop to work from home on bad pain days - 6 months and counting lol. You mention that your boss has downgraded you a few times, make note of those too as he should not be doing that to you at all. Writing things down can often help take a bit of the stress out of a situation and help you feel you are doing something to work things through.

I hope I've been of some help, got fibro fog bigtime today lol. :hugs: :hugs: for you
What doesn't kill you will only make you stronger ;-)
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Re: Letter from work! What should I think?

Postby Iceskatemum » Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:57 pm

MAny companies especially larger ones are now very anxious when they see anything to do with stress on a sick note.

As they have a duty of care to you that includes you mental health they may just be wanting to know if your stress is linked in any way to your working envvironment . This is to ensure that they can be seen to be evaluating your working situation & take measure to reduce any stress inducing situations you may be coming across .

You say you have records of instances where you have been bullied /discriminated against have you raised this issue with anyone before you came off . If so I would imagine they are trying to find out if these instances have anything to do with the onset of your illness. If not then now might be a good time to raise how these instances are impacting on how your body is dealing with the stress. ( i think we all appreciate how stress can be linked to increase on Fibro symtoms)

For now I would just let thm contact your GP but go and see your GP before hand and advise them of the situation, also ask to see anything that the GP might send to your HR before the letter is sent. That way it is easier to discuss matters if you feel that the GP & your recollection of things differ.

good luck with everything

Virtual Hugs
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Re: Letter from work! What should I think?

Postby denys » Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:13 pm

I would let them contact your GP for information as you are then seen to be cooperating with them but dont volunteer any information they can use against you, I let my company know too much and was made redundant. I agree with ISM regarding the matter of the bullying as they cant dismiss the evidence you have without thoroughly investigating. :fingerscrossed: they will sort everything out for you :-) :-)
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Re: Am I being paranoid?

Postby denys » Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:15 pm

Countryfan you have posted the same thing twice so I am going to merge both posts to avoid confusion
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Re: Letter from work! What should I think?

Postby andrew623 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 6:09 pm

Hi Again,

Firstly, I would seek advice from your GP or Equalities Rights Commission (http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/) for advice on whether your illness is a disability which comes under the umbrella of the Equality Act 2010 (Used to be called Disabilty Discrimination Act DDA). If it does (which I would think it would) then it's a bit of a different ball game. There are a whole set of different rules an employer should adhere to like making reasonable adjustments, considering ill-health retirement (with pension) etc. Ultimately, I don't think you will get a definitive answer on whether your illness is a disability, but your GP should be able to advise that it probably does. I think only a tribunal judge can decide this if it ever came to unfair dismissal. Also, having your illness recognised as a disability may give you more ammunition for unfair dismissal should it come to that, good luck.

Regards,

Andrew.
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Re: Letter from work! What should I think?

Postby countyfan » Wed Jan 30, 2013 6:32 pm

Hey,
Thank you all for your replies. Now I have calmed down a bit, I do see they probably have the best of intentions. Its the problem with my immediate boss that is worse. I go back to GP on Friday but not sure if I should agree to be signed off for longer or try to go back. I'll explain everything to her and see what she says.
Will keep you updated and thanks again for all your help and advice. :lol:
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Re: Letter from work! What should I think?

Postby andrew623 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:47 pm

H,

Glad you've calmed down. If you have an appointment with your GP, and your workplace are asking to write to her, ask your GP whether she thinks your illness is a disability which is covered under the equalities act, and, if it does, ask her if she could mention this to your workplace if they do write to your GP.
Andrew.
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Re: Letter from work! What should I think?

Postby countyfan » Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:09 pm

Hello,
Just a quick update to the situation. Just been to see the GP. She was shocked that work had written asking for access to medical records after only a fortnight off. She said its usually 3-4 months down the line and was I sure that I wanted them to be allowed to look at my records? I said that as I had come to the conclusion to co-operate, I have nothing to hide and am legitimately off work ill, so why not. I did say that if there was any cost, to charge it to them , not me! She has signed me off for another month, as she thinks there is no improvement but that the duloxetine has not really had time to work. Also, my appointment for the neck operation has been brought forward to 22/2, so will then be off another 3 months recovering! Had an awkward phone call to boss telling him this but he snapped 'If a Dr says you are not well enough to work, then I suppose I just have to accept it!'
Thanks for allowing my rant- will keep you posted :roll:
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Re: Letter from work! What should I think?

Postby Iceskatemum » Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:31 pm

What a horrid person your boss seems saying things like that.......glad though you are having youe op. sooner than later , less time for you to worry about things.

From experience I would see if the doc would let you stay off work until your op as then your time off would be one period of sickness rather than 2 which can be important when looking at past records etc I've found to my cost trying to do what you think may be the right thing can work against you

As for your fibro being a disability ....as far as teh disability act is it totally falls within teh parameters of what a disability may be..so your work have a duty of care towards you plus it has to make reasonable adjustment to help you stay in work. When the time is right try and contact a disability advisor from teh job centre as they coul dgive you more detailed adivse about what your work needs to do .

Good luck with everything
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Re: Letter from work! What should I think?

Postby countyfan » Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:02 pm

Just wanted to thank you for your advice, especially Iceskatemum.

I have got a sick note until after the op, as like you I thought that it was better just being one period of sickness. Anyway the doctor said that I was still too stressed to go back-I would have had to force myself to return otherwise. I know that my colleagues think that I'm not really sick (just gossip about me being incapable of doing the work) but a Medical doctor knows better than a Biomedical Scientist-however knowledgeable and 'God-like' my perfect colleagues think they are.

Sorry if I seem bitter but it's that work (principally the boss) who've made me ill. OK, I had the arthritis before but this Fibro has all developed since I have worked there! I will definitely need another 12 weeks off (possibly quite a bit more) after the operation so that will have been at least 4 months off. However, even if I have to go onto SSP, I am going to stick it out until they try and dismiss me. Then I have a diary of all the occasions that my boss has been dismissive and harassed me and will try and fight it at a tribunal. Not that I ever really want to go back-it's just the principle of things.

I have told my boss and colleagues that I have kept a diary of incidents and he said 'Well that looks like you are trying to be provocative and have been planning to complain about us all along' Well NO- if he had been more reasonable in his attitude, then none of this would have happened!'

Anyway, have a lot of things to do before the operation date-At the moment waiting for a repeat MRI scan date-They'll have to pull their finger out, in order to get one done and have results assessed before 22nd.

Thanks again everyone, for all your help and advice.
:roll:
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Re: Letter from work! What should I think?

Postby denys » Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:14 pm

Hi Countyfan what a palaver, your boss really ought to know better than to harrass someone signed off with stress :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: silly man. Glad you are signed off till after your op though as it should give you a chance to recover in peace :fingerscrossed: and :goodluck1: with the op :hugs: :hugs: :hugs: :hugs: :hugs: :flowers: :flowers:
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