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Pressured to work whilst off sick with Anxiety and depression

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Since May 2017 my husband has been signed unfit for work by his doctor with all kinds of problems relating to anxiety and depression,


he is in the middle of a 8 week course of counselling which seems to have a positive effect and we felt he was on the road to recovery.


He has always been keen to return to work as quickly as possible and his doctor and counsellor agreed that if he wanted to return to work then they would agree to a phased return which his employer agreed to once an independent medical assessment had taken place and back to work meetings had been held with occupational health


that all changed on the evening of the 21st July when he received an email to his personal address from the UK HR Manager, the opening line in the email was


"Sorry to have to reach out to you regarding this but I need to you take urgent remedial action regarding your expenses". the expenses were all business related and I highlighted the fact that at they were outstanding to his HR in May which they ignored.


As much as I tried to tell him the reports can wait and he was still signed as unfit for work he was immediately anxious and wanted to get them done as the email stated that the whole region`s rebate would be withheld and that would effect peoples bonuses due in August,


that’s around 15 thousand people and I felt it was unfair to even mention that let alone ask him to push through 6 months’ worth of reports whilst no one is really sure on his condition until medical assessments have been done.


Now my husband often told me the IT systems were unreliable and caused frustrations but until I tried to help him do his expenses and mileage reports I had no idea how exhausting it was,


he had 6 months to catch up on and it took over a day from him to access all the systems etc as the passwords had all expired,


he got caught up in it all and was trying to call Pittsburgh on a Sunday evening to reset his passwords etc,


by this stage he was so caught up in it all it was pointless me telling him to stop so I decided the best thing for me to do would be to assist him where I could,


I was worried sick as I could see his whole attitude changed but was unable to talk sense to him and have him stop


, we eventually got onto the programmes needed (he works from home) and it then took a day and a half to complete the reports and submit them.


over the course of 4 days he completed the reports but he slipped back so far he wouldn’t eat couldn’t sleep


when he visited his counsellor that week I don’t think she could believe it and was disappointed as was I,


he has been with the company for 3 years and enjoys the role but I wonder now if they should have considered this more and personally I have lost confidence in them supporting him back into the work place correctly.


Is there any advice out there as there is no doubt that this has been a set back and I do not trust this company to make any adjustments or control his work load when/if he returns ,


if I could talk him into handing his notice in and moving on I would but he worries about money and finding another role and is also worried that they won’t want him back after the past few months.


Has anyone been in a similar situation or heard of this.



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What has the employers Occupational health said about it?


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The smart thing to do would be to ask the councellor to email the HR manager to advise of their concern that recent communications have caused your husband a set back in his current treatment, which might well delay a fit return to work. The HR Manager needs to understand that their conduct had consequences and this might well be the best way.

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Thanks, i will try to speak to his counsellor next week.

He has a medical examination next wednesday facilitated by OH, they dont know about the latest episode yet though.

Thanks again.


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you mention Pittsburgh - which country are you in? Laws differ.

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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Based on the language used and they mention of UK HR, I assume this is the UK.


I can totally understand how upset you are, and of course you are going to want to take your husbands side in this. You should! But I don't think it's as clear cut as you think. Perhaps HR shouldn't have asked - although if there was nobody else to ask and these were historical details that only he could resolve, then I can understand why they did. And I might think that they did so only because he had been discussing a return to work, and perhaps didn't appreciate the problems that he would encounter? Did he not think to go back to HR and explain his frustrations and difficulties and ask for help? Or did he insist on soldiering on - which it sounds like he did, and may well be very telling in terms of how he had ended up in this place to start with?


It sounds to me like there are changes required on both sides here, and maybe those aren't being talked about. In which case, going back to work will simply land him back in this place. If the workload or the systems are too much to manage, then the employer perhaps needs to look at their resource. He perhaps needs more assistance, and the downside of being a home worker is that the stresses are not as easily seen as in an office, and there aren't other people to offload work to. But equally, he needs to stop - if he doesn't tell them what the difficulties are or what needs to be done, then he isn't helping himself; and if he has and nothing has happened, then he needs to make some hard decisions to protect himself. In the end, if the job is at the cost of his health, he needs to find another job.


But those are end of process considerations - first he needs to talk to OH about what happened and why it made him feel like this. And honestly - because if he is anything like a lot of men that I know, they'd rather lose their right arm than talk about "not coping"! It's easier to talk about physical injury than mental illness, and social pressure that associates being the breadwinner with succeeding at work makes them loathe to talk about not being able to manage work. That may be something you can help him with. Can you talk to OH with him? Would he feel that it is easier for you to make some of these observations than him? Or could you help him to frame his comments so that he's able to talk about these things himself? Because what you have described here, I understand your position in terms of HR having asked - but you then went on to describe almost a frenzy of "must do this" from him which is unhealthy. But very typical.


And on the positive side, you now have some very clear idea of how he works - which is immensely harmful. And that isn't about the employer, it's about the way he is. Especially when someone works from home where it's easy to get into a habit of being in the office 24/7. Advocates of home working often fail to appreciate that it takes great self discipline, or you never leave "the office". These are things that his employer can support him in, but only he can change them - and he'll probably need your help to do it. He needs to understand that it is not failure to tell his employer that their expectations are too high. And he needs to learn to walk away and switch off. If he is constantly sending the employer the message that he can cope with all the work and what they ask, then why would they think otherwise? When you have Superman, why would you ask for Clark Kent the geeky little weakling in the corner?

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