21 weeks pregnant, big problems at work, referred to occupational health - any experiences?

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  • So sorry to hear this. It sounds like you are going through a really tough time. I'm glad your doctor has signed you off. They cannot make you go back - its actually illegal to let you go back even before your sick note has ended. If they think part of the problem is work then they should put things in place to help ease those problems for you, but ultimately you are off sick so you don't have to answer the phone to them continuously etc.

  • Bloody hell, she sounds like a complete bullying cow, what an awful woman, and so childish too!  It amazes me that people like that are able to get into such powerful positions, although if no-one will stand up to her then she's going to stay there - although totally understand that it's not something you would feel able to do on your own, especially with your current stresses.

    No HR experience I'm afraid, but I really can't imagine that her or OH are able to force you back to work when your GP has said you're not able to - she also has to be very wary what she does with you being pregnant.

    I take it your MW tested your urine and that was fine, it's just the symptoms you mention don't sound good.   You really do need to relax and think of you and your baby and try not to feel guilty about being off work - it's good that you're feeling so much better.

    Sorry I can't be of more help Hug

  • She sounds absolutely vile, I really feel for you. If I were you, I would continue to get signed off by your understanding GP until your ML automatically kicks in. You can deal with whether or not you go back, or find a different school afterwards. The important thing is you and the baby and I'm not surprised you are feeling so ill and stressed you poor thing. I also agree with what you say that you can't be the one to deal with or stand up to her at the moment, she sounds horrible, and I would avoid contact as much as you can. OH can't do anything if you are signed off sick, and you are further protected when pregnant. Hopefully someone with HR experience can help - I think there are people on the OT part of the forum IIRC who work in HR so it might be worth a shout out. Take care x

  • Definately call the mid wife re symptoms feeling unwell isn't going to help anything.

    As for work no they can't make you go back while signed off sick.

    I know you said some one has called the union previously but I think this is what you need to do union is there t help you address problems such as this and provide support.

    She sounds like a bully and she is threatening peoples careers to keep them quiet and get her way. You should make a log of any contact yo have with her to show the union if you do decide to contact them.

  • YOU HAVE DONE THE RIGHT THING! I have been very ill and became depressed due to workplace bullying and I had no option but to go long-term sick, after I had tried EVERYTHING. It's awful. I am glad you are feeling some relief.

    Please do not worry about occupational health. The head (what a ***!) is unhappy and is just ticking boxes. Occ Health can listen to your symptoms and talk to you. Lay it on thick regarding your physcial symptoms if need be. (I'm not suggesting they're not real, I just mean the more you can get documented the better it will be in the longer run for you to remain off)

    The OH adviser might make suggestions to you that will improve your working conditions to make it possible for you to work. You don't have to accept these at all. Or there's a chance they might even come up with something you *do* find helpful. Ultimately all the while you've got sicknotes they are restricted as to how far they can push you. It would take a very long time (months and months) for them to come back and say "Look, we've tried everything, it seems no matter what you do you aren't up to this job, we have to let you go". And legally they can do that, but there's a lot of hoops to jump through first. And you're pregnant. Pregnant women are the most difficult group of employees to get rid of and make it look bona fide. Please try not to worry.

    And it's hard not working, I know. But it's a world better than what you were having to put up with. Try to enjoy it if you possibly can :)

  • That is awful poor you...as a fellow teacher surely the union should be doing more. However you being signed off is best for you and baby . Could you apply else where once matertity leave finishes or get transfered to another school? X

  • You poor thing! That's so awful! I would document everything she has said and done so you have a record. I would also try and get her to put her lesson ob concerns in writing so you can refer to it at a later date. Are you in a union? I would contact them for advice. Lesson obs are bad enough but even worse when someone is being so horrible. Don't be hard on yourself, take the time off for you and your baby and get well x

  • Glad you have contacted them and they are being helpful. you are most definitely doing the right thing so don't feel like you are taking sick leave lightly etc. Take care of yourself x

  • Gosh that does sound hard. Although I didn't have a head like that I was in a stressful role and class whilst pregnant ith my first. My biggest regret is not taking time off sick. I had a horrendous regnancy. The one day I did take off sick I ended up leaving my GPs in an ambulance and had my daughter early 2 days later. In hindsight now if I was in your situation I would stay off sick until your ML starts. Your health and that of your baby outweighs any job or career.

    Keep everything ocumented and make sure ou are nt alone in ny meeting x

  • She sounds like a right piece of work! Glad you are getting advice from the union and your doctor is supportive. Relax and take advantage of your time off before baby is here. Do not feel guilty, she did not give you much of a choice. Make sure you keep details of all that has gone on, in the event that you feel you have to leave you may have a case for constructive dismissal.

  • It sounds awful. I had a head teacher who was similar to this but never went as far. I agree with a lot of the suggestions. Unions can be great, arrange a meeting with 1 to see how they can help support you. Is there a way you can contact the LA to report this woman? Definitely document everything. What is your deputy head like? Can you ask to have a second opinion like the deputy or year group leader in on lesson observations?

  • Occy health could be a good thing in this situation.

    If another member of staff is making you feel like this then they are duty bound to resolve the issue. If not, I'd be tempted to go above the Head and get them to look into it. Keep a note of everything she does. I reckon you'd have a good case of constructive dismissal if you decided to just leave.

  • So sorry that you're being treated in this way. I also have experience of working for a head who is a bully, but she would never go this far, particularly with someone who is pregnant. You are right to be off. You wouldn't be able to give your best to the kids in this situation anyway and for once your own child must come first. I would now stay on the sick until 36 wks when your maternity pay kicks in and whilst on maternity leave you can consider your options. It may  be worth while staying off until 7 weeks before the summer and then resign. This way you'd have worked your 13 wks so you won't have to pay mat leave back, as with only working 2 days you could most likely get that amount of work as supply which could get you known in different schools and possibly lead to something more permanent. Whatever you decide to do, I really would not go back or worry about the place until your mat leave is over, but which time things may have changed anyway. Good luck. It's amazing what they think they can get away with, but bullying a pregnant woman is not on and you should make it very clear to. OH exactly what has caused your problems and how your head has not supported you. X

  • Fig - yuo have got lots and lots of this noted down haven't you? And have your partner/a friend read it and check it's not ambiguous and makes orderly sense to a layperson. You might need to use it one day and it will be so much nicer for you to just have it sat there, almost the finished article. Constructive dismissal springs to mind...

  • Exactly what Counter said re documenting everything. Hopefully you'll never need to use it, but so much easier and better to have comprehensive notes from the time.

    I hope you can start to relax a little now x

  • If you can put things in chronological order, even if vague it would help a lot, your partner/friends will probably remember other crazy sh.it she's done. The longer the list the better. She won't have a list, so you'll be one step ahead of the wtich!!!

  • Bless you, how horrendous. I have been in a similar position (also a teacher) - from being 'the favourite' (although I don't feel I was granted an 'favours' but the head was very supportive to me initially) to suddenly deciding she wanted someone to blame when she cocked up dealing with a bullying situation (basically told the parents one thing to keep them happy, and told me I had to do a different thing). Over the period of a term she made my life miserable and although I managed not to show it to her, I was almost constantly ill (managed to only miss 1 day of work like you) which I now see was my immune system being totally depressed with stress.

    I got very ill over the Christmas holidays and wasn't able to return to work; my GP signed me off initially with the flu and chest infections (the head then continued to bully me remotely by sending me work home to mark, sent letters to the parents with copies of my sick note and made up stuff about my illness, phoned me constantly etc) to the point where I was beginning to recover from the flu, but was dreading going back - sleepless nights, palpitations, sobbing, the lot. I found out I was pregnant around that time (despite the stress we decided to ttc and caught quickly) and I couldn't face going back there and attempting to work whilst pregnant - my health and my baby's health had to come first.

    My situation was different in that this was early / mid-Feb, and I wasn't due until October. My notice period - like yours I imagine - was 2 months so I handed in my notice at Feb half term, and GP signed me off with stress from then until my notice period was up, and I quickly job hunted (was offered a job within a week). In your situation, being so much further along with the pregnancy, I would agree to GP signing your off with stress until ML starts and then take ML. State your intention to return after ML - IIRC you only need to return for 13 weeks at your normal contract (so the equivalent of 2 days a week for you) to retain your additional maternity pay. From a practical POV, complain about her anyway - you can go direct to the LA, if you feel your governors would be unsupportive, and use your maternity leave partially for job hunting so you can return to a new job instead of this horrible one!

    I can't tell you how relieved I was to get out; I recently met with 2 ex-colleagues who say the head has got worse, they are both regularly in tears and both feel they shouldn't even be teachers as the head constantly tells them how crap they are - yet I know for a fact they are both excellent teachers. Some people just shouldn't be put in positions of power like that.

  • Just thought of something else. Is your two days a week part of a Flexible Working Request (ie because you have a child)? If so, they can't just go changing it to suit them. If hours were agreed with a FWR then you need to be given a lot of notice for it to change. My works policy was 6 months. No idea if this is standard.

  • God what a horrible person! In your situation I would definitely go with being signed off sick. Your and your baby's health are the most important thing.

    I had 3 OH referrals in my last pregnancy. First because I had hyperemesis gravidium so was admitted to hospital with it initially and then got put on reduced travel until 20 weeks when they reviewed it. I then passed out in a meeting at 28 weeks so that was it, no more travel over an hour! My boss was pretty good and wouldn't let me do anything without OH oking it first. OH go on doctor's advice anyway.

    Good luck

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