Thursday 6 February 2014

Mental illness and the workplace

I started working for a major credit card company in March 2005. Within 4 days of starting I was given a role with more responsibility. Myself and one other woman were responsible for dealing with accounts that had been send out to debt collection companies, incoming payments and other administrative duties. When my colleague was out doing audits I was solely responsible for it all and I loved it so so much.

The company had their own doctor and nurse and boasted how they look after their staff.

When I took "ill" April 2006 and was signed off for 3 months I was gutted but at the same time knew I was not well. I kept in touch with my manager and Human resources throughout. I attended an appointment with the company doctor who, along with my own GP, decided another 2 months and I would be back to work and back to normal. Knowing I only had 2 months left to go was exciting and frustrating at the same time.

The final month I was back and forwards to my work to meet with colleagues for lunch to get me used to being back in the noisy fast paced environment again. I was itching to get back and given half the chance I would have started back that day! On my last visit I was given my dates and hours for my staggered return. This was put in place by HR and the company doctor to make sure it was not too much for me all at once.

I went back that first day, went to my old desk and found another woman sitting there. I asked my other colleague what was going on and she said "I honestly do not know, they told me you were coming back so I assumed *Sarah would be going back to her own job". A manager from the department came and asked to speak to me.

This is how that conversation went:

"Angela, For the foreseeable we are putting you on basic admin duties meaning you will only be filing for us"
"Can I ask why?"
"we feel you are not capable of doing your old job, sorry"

that was it. I was devastated. I was only in for 3 hours that day....3 hours of filing and a million questions.
The girl who had taken over my role came over to me all the time asking me how to do thing..she had been my replacement since I left and she still could not do the job correctly!! the woman I had worked with said "that's it I am going to speak to them  I need you back I cant continue with someone who has no idea what they are doing" Her pleas fell on deaf ears and I was left with more filing than before.

On my second day back I was taken straight into the office. A rep from HR was sitting plus this new manager who I had experienced the day before.

"Angela, we have came to the decision you are not longer suitable to work for us"
"we feel you are no longer qualified"
well I am not quitting"
"if you do not resign we will have to let you go and you will not receive your pay. If you resign you will be paid"

That was it I had no choice but to hand my notice in. I was in tears absolutely heartbroken.

when I got home I contacted a lawyer to look into my case. He took me on and the end result was they had every right, They told the lawyer a whole other story which of course the HR rep backed up.

So after my long hard battle I was left without a job.

Looking back I think I should have fought harder and instead of going straight to a lawyer I should have went to ACAS and CAB.

If you are ever in the same situation please contact the following organisations who will point you in the right direction - 
provide information, advice, training, conciliation and other services for employers and employees to help prevent or resolve workplace problems.
Free impartial advice on employment, money and other matters.

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