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Hello, I'm new here, just found this as I am looking for help. It's a bit of a long story. Anyway, here goes. I have worked for a large retail company for the past three years. I am employed full time on a 38 hour contract which is 5 days over 7. I have two problems really.

 

The first is the lack of support for my illness, clinical depression, which I've suffered from for about 10 years or so. I made my employer aware of this because I like to keep things open and honest. I suffer very very badly when I have my 'down times' to the point where every tiny thing I have to do seems like a massive mountain. Despite this I have an excellent attendance record and never have sick days.

 

For the most part I struggle though but I can't describe how difficult I find it going in each day during my down times and having to pretend everything is ok, put a brave face on it. It's utterly exhausting to the point where by the time I get home I have nothing left for my family. Basically my family are suffering because all of my energy goes into ensuring I don't let my illness impact my colleagues or my work.

 

I try to keep in touch with my managers, letting them know when I am going through a 'down time' but generally they are very dismissive and have a pull your self together attitude one even asked me "see this depression thing, is it only when your working you get it or do you get it at holidays too?".

 

Well, I've coped so far and struggled on despite the impact on my home life as I don't want to loose my job or have a bad attendance record however recently I'm at breaking point. Basically, although I work in a shop I work "back of house' so to speak dealing with stock deliveries and paperwork.

 

There are four people who do my job. We do not need people in my roll in on a Sunday as there are no deliveries and no work for us though they do like one of us to be in for the odd job which is totally fine. Generally they have always given each of the four of us one weekend day off to be with our families which was perfect.

 

However, recently the rotas are no longer generated by a human being, but by an automatic computer program and for the last six months our shifts have been horrendous leaving us working evenings and weekends despite the demands of our job role staying the same. I barely see my family any more and rather than having a stable, rolling rota like we used to have our shifts are now totally eratic and have no stability or routine at all.

 

This has played havok with my depression making me worse than I have every been in my life as I relied on that stability and seeing my family for support. I've gone right down hill and my doctor agrees the lack of routine and family time is certainly not helping. I tried to talk to my employer about this but was dismissed out right and told "well get used to not seeing your family cos that's just the way it is.

 

You shouldn't be so dependant on family time." So that got me nowhere, but a friend told me as UK shop workers we can opt out of Sunday working legally. I was so happy because I thought I'd found a solution that would at least give me one set day a week to spend with my family cos as it stands I work myself into a panic each week when the rota is released. I look at it and cry when I realise I'm on my third week without a day in sight that I can spend with my family. So I thought this way I can rely on having that one day every week.

 

It seemed perfect. I also understood that if I opt out my employer can cut my hours by a day, which was fine because I felt my health was more important and it wasn't going to be a huge loss financially after tax etc. So I went to them with this, telling them again about my stress and depression and that I would like to give three months notice and opt out of Sundays. Well they wouldn't have it.

 

They told me if I did that then I would be demoted to a completely different job within the shop on a considerably lower rate of pay. It was my understanding they couldn't treat you unfairly if you opted out. I feel like they are doing absoloutley nothing to help support me when I feel like I'm going through hell. Where do I stand on all of this? Any advice would be hugely appreciated.

Edited by citizenB
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hi,first of all well done for being so open about an illness that is ignored or ridiculed as you have experienced,have you been to you hr dept about these cruel comments,if not do it,and if no joy go higher up the chain,others with more knowlegde on opting out of sunday working will be along to help you.

 

stephenweslo

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I would strongly suggest that you take this higher. You do have the right to give 3 months notice that you wish to opt out of Sunday working, and are protected from suffering a detriment as a result of this (other than the loss of pay as the employer is not obliged to give you alternative hours).

 

The employer would only be entitled to change your fundamental role if Sunday working was essential to that role - you cannot be demoted, dismissed or suffer loss of promotion opportunities for opting out of Sunday working, and would be entitled to seek the help of an Employment Tribunal if that was to be the case.

 

Write to Head Office and to as senior a person as you can. Are you in a Union at work?

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Thanks for the advice everyone. I chatted with a manager yesterday to let them know I am really struggling with a down time just now and was told "it's your age. Once you get to late 20s your body wants children and your hormones make you feel like that." Wow, they really aren't taking me seriously. I wentr to citizens advice who confirmed I can't be demoted nor can they cut my hours apparently as I'm not contracted to work specificly on Sundays. I tried to reason with them anyway saying I didn't need every Sunday off and if they would just consider giving me a less erratic schedule so I could get some stability it would really help me stay in work and continue to be agood worker. Each of the three yearly reviews ive had ive been placed in the top category so I thought they'd be keen to hang onto good workers but no I was told to start looking for another job as they aren't willing to help support me through my illness.

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Keep a notebook. When they say something that is blatant sex descrimination like that, take it out, in front of them if you like, and write it down, noting the exact words, who said them, and the time.

 

Ask for an occupational health referal. You need some medical support for your request, documented.

Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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