Back to work on a phased return

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Hi there. I'm just about to go back to teaching after 4 months absence due to WRS anxiety and depression but on a phased return starting at 25% of directed hours. I have come a long way from contemplating suicide on a number of occasions to where I am now. I'm curious to know if anyone else has done the same. How did colleagues react? Sympathetic or did people pre-judge your condition? Did some resent your absence and not really believe how ill you were? I want to be the best prepared I can be so any advice is welcome. I have already heard rumblings about what colleagues think I should be doing, where I teach (which class) when I go back etc. I have a return to work interview on Monday and know what I feel is right but I'm worried that I'll be pushed to fit in with what others think is right for me. Do people sense your weakness and see opportunities to exploit it to their own advantage or am I just being paranoid?

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8 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi, I know where your coming from, it should be part of the disablity policy for others to judge you on you health.. When I returned to work, I was nervous as well, its facing others that's hard, but you soon relax and realise thery are no harm to you.. if you need too, speak to manager ask to come in early and get that first step out the way and I am pretty sure they will welcome you with open arms..

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  • Posted

    I am facing the same issue Sally. I think the fact tats you are on a phased return should help.

    I would speak to your manager should you feel under too much pressure. Your colleagues should be told your doing the best you can. I am sure if it was them they would want the same consideration.

    You should be doing what is right for you not them.

    I hope it all goes well on Monday.

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  • Posted

    hi sally as a t a in a school who went back to work, take my warning and watch your back completely. initially don't trust anyone. people in schools can be awkward including management (especially). sadly i had to retire due to ill health. i am not trying to scare you but just be careful. oh and massive amounts of.luck.

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  • Posted

    Well this happened to me too when I was working. I found that not one person ever mentioned it in my hearing or asked me how I was. Part of me was relieved but another part was very miffed as I interpreted this as not caring. x

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  • Posted

    Thanks for all your replies. Feeling pretty nervous about the return to work interview tomorrow but more about reactions once I'm back in school. If only it was just about me and the kids!

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  • Posted

    Just thought I'd update you. I had my return to work interview and I'm relieved. They agreed to my way of implementing my phased hours but not to the class i wanted to return to - the one I know. However, I'm to get the class I will be teaching from Sept. They have also agreed to my request to part time from Sept. I am ok with that.

    What I was unhappy with was the response to my description of the culture, workload and continual pressure that led to my breakdown. This needed addressing to ensure prevention in the future but the reaction was "Much of that pressure was due to your own self imposed high standards". Strange that lowering my standards to salvage my mental health never came up in my performance management meeting before! They also took issue with OH and GP's view that I am unlikely to fully recover. My boss, who clearly sees himself as a mental health expert, said "I know lots of people who have made a full recovery from depression and are not scarred for life". There I was, explaining how ill I had been, how close to suicide and that I feel I can never be the same and their reaction is basically ' you'll get over it". Actually, I won't forget and I have been forced to go part time on less money, almost certainly retire earlier and will receive less pension as a result. My boss even turned to my husband and said "but you'll have to keep working won't you". Oh, so me reducing my timetable is a luxury my husband is affording me?

    Is this really as far as we have come with how employers regard mental health and staff well being? We're responsible for our own WRS, not the employer, and being forced to work part time is a privileged life style choice? This could just be schools for you but I don't doubt others have similar stories.

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    • Posted

      oh sally, gosh how i wish you masses of luck! you are telling me after so many years out of education they haven't learnt anything about trying to teach, stress and mental health? i said for years that teachers and their assistants needed permanent admin staff. the reason why health will never completely recover is because everything you do is bound up in red tape! you can't sneeze without explaining how that will benefit children you work with! since when were teachers or assistants doctors or their parents? if child is sick keep them out of school, if they don:t sleep don't ask teachers why? teachers should teach, they are not admin staff. i haven't worked for 8 years due to ill health, it doesn't surprise me more and more teachers are leaving. education is no longer the secure job it was. masses of luck.

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    • Posted

      Call me cynical but I don't think most employers give a damn about their workers and just want as much work out of them as humanly possible. Their attitude is if you can't do the job then we will get someone else who will regardless of how long you have been there or what a good worker you have been. x

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