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Desperately unhappy, being bullied at work

(85 Posts)
Growing0ldDisgracefully Fri 23-Mar-18 16:11:52

Sorry in advance, this will be a long thread, but there is a wealth of experience, common sense and support on Grans net. OK deep breath here goes :

I took semi retirement in 2016, happy as Larry with part time hours and at long last the freedom to do things I wasn't able to do working full time. Lots of personal development projects, and latterly taking tentative steps into setting up my own small business (still very embryonic ).

Then due to restructuring, I got moved into another job, with a different line manager. First she seemed nice, jolly, handing out chocolate at meetings but now I think this was just 'grooming'. I started getting heavy 'hints' to go to meetings on my non-working days, and what I took to be humerous (sort-of) remarks that she would give me 'permission ' not to go on my non -working days. Then the pressure got worse, to the point of bullying, with her saying she could expect me to make myself available any day of the week if she thought fit. I said I would look at requests to change my working days now and again but couldn't change every time, as I do have commitments now (set up in 2016) which it isn't always possible to change. Things got so heavy -handed from her I put this formally into writing but then the bullying got even worse. She insists I have to get her permission for my activities outside of work, whether paid, voluntary work, or my own activities. She insists I should provide medical evidence for eg dental appts on my non-working days, and now I feel my life isn't my own.
Things came to a head with a bullying email I came into on a Monday (after a meeting with her the previous week), to the extent I caved in, dissolved into tears, left the office and went to the doctor. I was off sick for 6 weeks, went back in to more of the same pig-headed bullying, and was issued with a warning for my sickness absence. (If I have more than 1 sick day more over the next year, I run the risk of a higher level of warning, eg demotion, dismissal ). I should say I have previously had a very good attendance record but that doesn't count, apparently.
She is now putting me through some sort of disciplinary process for being made so ill by her I had to leave the office - she is calling it 'planning and staging a walk-out', or there's alternative wording about 'Abuse to staff'. I'm at the end of my rope. I know she finds it inconvenient to have a part-time worker in a full-time job, particularly one who is at the end of their working life -she is a 30-something pushy career woman she has said if/when I or her other part timer leaves, she will replace me/my colleague with a full timer.
I feel she's pushing and pushing me to resign, and as that's not happened, she's now trying to get me sacked.
I can't leave just yet, my OH has been out of work for a while and is now trying to build his own business with a partner so that needs time to get up and running properly.
I just dread going into work, and now I can't get this out of my head, even when I'm not working.

Sorry for the long thread, I've just had enough.

MissAdventure Fri 23-Mar-18 16:14:55

Oh hell! Do you have a union?
This can't be allowed to carry on!

Baggs Fri 23-Mar-18 16:18:10

It sounds as if this person is being very unreasonable and unpleasant but do check all the details on your contract first and foremost. It should become clear then if she is completely out of line.

EdithCrawley Fri 23-Mar-18 16:21:59

She sounds like an utter nightmare. Have you got a HR department? Write absolutely everything down with dates, times, people who witnessed her bullying. Then I’d take it to them under your company grievance policy, if you have one.

MissAdventure Fri 23-Mar-18 16:22:49
Acas are very helpful, and very pleasant to speak to on the phone.

BlueBelle Fri 23-Mar-18 16:28:56

Gosh that sounds horrible is there no one higher up you can go to? Do you have an HR dept or do you belong to a union? You certainly shouldn’t have to explain to anyone what you do outside of work she insists I have to get her permission for my activities outside work that is not something that you need to answer to at all
Is she as bad with the other part timer if so can you get together to make a complaint
This can’t go on

M0nica Fri 23-Mar-18 16:29:36

*Growing old disgracefully. I deduce you work for a reasonable size company where your manager is not the owner.

You will have a contract of employment. Get that out and read it. This will set out your conditions of work and by every standard this lady is breaching it.

Quite simply she has no right to expect you to come in on days you are not working and certainly has no right to demand to know what you do on the days you are not working.

You should tell her firmly that you have your days and hours of work and she cannot expect you to work on other days and what you do in your time is your business not hers.

I think what she is trying to do is get you to resign. Why, I do not know, but if you do you will have a case against the company for constructive dismissal. Keep a diary of everything that happens. Write a retrospective account of everything that has already happened including your ill health from stress. Go and talk to Citizens Advice or seek legal advice.

The thing with bullies is they have to be stood up to, it isn't easy but if you give way and let them see you are bothered they keep it up.

I was bullied at work, but I really kicked up a stink. When HR did nothing I went to the union and threatened a grievance procedure. I did not get the full result I wanted, but I got the manager off my back, until, in my own time and when I was ready I chose to take advantage of a voluntary redundancy scheme. By that time the manager had moved on.

Luckygirl Fri 23-Mar-18 16:29:49

Is this a small business or does it have other rungs in the hierarchy and an HR department to whom you can turn?

Do you belong to a union.

I am so sorry that you are being subjected to this bullying at the end of a long career. It is totally out of order.

grannyactivist Fri 23-Mar-18 16:40:15

If it is a possibility that this woman is trying to engineer your departure then you should check your contract very carefully to see if you have grounds for a case of Constructive Dismissal. You say you need to work, but if it's having a continuously detrimental affect on your health you may be better off finding another job. flowers

cornergran Fri 23-Mar-18 16:47:35

I'm so sorry growingold, there is no excuse for this behaviour. I second advice to read your contract, carefully, and speak with ACAS, your Trades Union if you have one, your HR department if there is one or the CAB. ACAS aren't just there for the employer, they are very helpful to employees. Another thought is if you have legal advice available to you via your home insurance that could be helpful. Get as much support as you can, it will help you feel less alone and as bullies tend to work covertly your manager may have a re-think if she knows her actions are no longer between the two of you. It sometimes feels difficult to do but I agree, document everything in as much detail as you can. Easy to say I know but try not to worry, there is support for you. Wishing you a peaceful weekend, relax as much as you can, you've done nothing wrong.

varian Fri 23-Mar-18 16:48:03

Go over her head and show her bosses evidence of her appalling behaviour. She should be on her way out, not you.

MissAdventure Fri 23-Mar-18 16:50:56

Acas were helpful in one of my jobs where a new manager (backed by the union, I might add) introduced terrible shifts for us to work.
A few minutes call to Acas, and we were informed about what the law is, and we were able to stand our ground.

Cherrytree59 Fri 23-Mar-18 16:57:14

This is a dreadful situation for you.
Please keep all e-mail and any written correspondence from this woman.
I would also ask her to put any 'out of office hours' requests in writing or as e-mail.

If you are unable to return to work because of this woman's behavior you could go to a tribunal for constructive dismissal.

I wouldn't normal advise MN (mumsnet)
However I have read about 'The bullying behavior' in the work place on the site.

There does seem to be a number of mums who work in HR or have come across this type of behavior and are able to offer practical advice.

Options would be....
To put this thread on MN.
Look at past threads on MN
Or Google mumsnet bullying in the work place.

Good luck shamrock

Eloethan Fri 23-Mar-18 19:04:21

Do you have a proper Contract of Employment and Job Description?

You say, you put something in writing in relation to the demands being made of you re your non-working days. Presumably, you have kept your memo/letter?

I don't understand why you would have to give evidence of your appointments, e.g at the dentist, on your non-working days. That is ridiculous.

When you say you are thinking of starting a business yourself, does this conflict with the job you are doing at the moment in terms of you being in competition with your current employer?

Get all your papers together and write a concise account of the intimidation and harassment that you have been subjected to (I hope you have kept a record of incidents of bullying and dates, or approximate dates). Then ring ACAS and see if you can have a face-to-face appointment in order to obtain advice.

MawBroon Fri 23-Mar-18 20:21:47

You might also check your household insurance (buildings and contents) as I have discovered I have cover for employment tribunals etc. A colleague used hers to challenge an attempt to make her redundant (using a totally biased and skewed matrix) and her employment lawyer absolutely floored her Headteacher when he pointed out that as my friend was in remission from breast cancer she could not be made redundant as she counted as disabled. This would never have occurred to her.
So if you need to take matters to the point of legal representation you may find you are covered.
Good luck.
My only other advice is to log absolutely everything in writing and discuss this with your union rep and HR.
This sort of appalling bullying cannot and must not be allowed to continue unchallenged.

Maggiemaybe Fri 23-Mar-18 20:57:45

GrowingOldDisgracefully, you have all the good advice you need on here already, so I hope you get this bully off your back by one means or another. You are in a dreadful position and have my sympathy, but you do need to be strong and challenge her, using all the channels available.

As has been said by several posters, get everything down in writing. If she makes her unfair demands verbally, send her a polite email asking for written confirmation/clarification. Print it off, take it home. And print off any emails or copy any documents now that may be useful to prove your case later and take them home. I know of people in a very similar situation to yours whose access to their email and their files has been cut off while they were absent because of work related stress. Good luck. flowers

Growing0ldDisgracefully Fri 23-Mar-18 21:41:08

Thank you all for your advice and support. Helps to know I'm not imagining it!

I fear HR only act for management, and in the back-to-work meeting this week that is how it felt. I was actually asked what I was doing to improve my attendance! I pointed out it was solely due to bullying by the organisation which had caused my stress, and that having my non-working days left alone was sufficient to sort it out. My manager immediately started up AGAIN about a date in Sept she expects me to attend even though it's a non-working day, and I said I'm not going to discuss it again. HR have recorded this as something which will be discussed outside of that meeting, so didn't back me up.

I do have the support of my union, and have lodged a grievance. However I suspect my line manager is having her strings pulled by her manager, and it is that manager who is going to hear my grievance so I'm doubtful of a successful outcome.

Re a contract, all I have is a generic email all staff got when our organisation got taken over by the civil service, and I was full time then. I (and also my part time colleague ), never got an amended contract when we went into semi-retirement, and my manager is saying (probably a lot of BS), that as I was originally employed for 37 hours, then I'm expected to be available at any point over the 37 hour week, even though they would not normally expect me to work any more than my 18.5 hours. However they do put pressure on me and my part time colleague to work extra hours. I have always refused to do that, but unfortunately my colleague is happy to do extra hours and change her days to suit them. So I'm seen as being the awkward, obstreperous old bag who has a 'real' life outside of work which is more important!

My little embryonic business is just buying and selling stuff at auction, so need to keep auction days free - I only do these at the end of the week on my non-working days and do all my posting off of sold stuff to my buyers then, so that's not a conflict of interest with work's business. I think what I've got is a line manager who can't accept she can't always have her own way. I have agreed to change some days to suit her, but she's really in a strop over a couple I can't change, because of pre-arranged family events.

I think her plan is to 'direct ' me to change those 2 days, then sack me when I don't comply.

Oh well, I suppose there's other work, but changing jobs when you're only a couple of years away from full retirement isn't a pleasant prospect.

Anyway, thank you all so much for all your support, I'll keep on fending her off and hope common sense (and maybe a tribunal!) will sort her out.👍

Mapleleaf Sat 24-Mar-18 07:57:44

Lots of good advice already given, GrowingOldDisgracefully. Keep records of everything. If she's sent emails to your work computer, put them on your personal one, just in case they "disappear". Go further up line with your concerns. She is a bully. She has no right whatsoever to insist on you telling her what you do on your days off. Tell her she is being a bully and you won't stand for it and will take it further. ( Easy for me to say, I know, but she is thriving on your fear of her).
Good luck. 💐

OldMeg Sat 24-Mar-18 08:38:00

I would suggest you read this blue Link on Constructive Dismissal this describes exactly what you are being subjected too and your union needs to up the ante.

Molly10 Sat 24-Mar-18 09:33:54

Bully - brainless, useless, low life, yob.

Now that is what your new boss is!

As others have said:

Employment contract

Do not succumb or be intimidated by this bully. In the interim you have every right to go to your GP, explain the situation and the stress it is causing you and continue receiving sick notes for as long as needed.

Every boss has someone they are accountable to and she should be accountable.

longpinknails Sat 24-Mar-18 09:36:38

I think I understand the type of organisation you are working for I work in a similar one. You say the Union are helping, but what are they doing? They need to help you more.i do not understand why she wants to know what your medical appointments are when you’re not at work...that is NOT in your terms. Please get that sorted out straight away. The organisation takes a dim view of bullying, so that needs to be nipped in the bud immediately and she should be the one who is now given a verbal/written warning. Her job should be on the line. Please go and see the union again when you’re next back in pay them enough. You mention that her manager may also be in with her, so go above them and advise the very Senior Manager what is going on.

GrandmaMoira Sat 24-Mar-18 09:38:30

I agree with the advice others have given. I was in the same position with a bullying boss trying to get rid of me a couple of years before retirement and do understand how awful it is. It totally put me off the idea of going back to work at all.

Blinko Sat 24-Mar-18 09:42:29

Sorry you're going through all this, GrowingOld. I used to work at ACAS and the advice you've had from others on here is sound. It does seem as if they're trying to make you resign. If so, that would be constructive dismissal. Get all the facts down and seek professional help. ACAS will be happy to advise.

Good Luck, and let us know how you get on.

Soniah Sat 24-Mar-18 09:45:14

Keep all evidence, emails, diaries etc and go to ACAS who will give you free impartial advice and help you sort this out, Unions are often not as strong as we would like

Joelsnan Sat 24-Mar-18 09:46:49

Do you have a current contract of employment? You should, and if you do read it carefully to see if you are obliged to attend meetings etc. out of your contracted hours. If there is no mention then the company is in breach of contract.
Does the company have employment policies and procedures? If they do maybe they have a bullying policy if not a grievance policy.
Where possible always ensure your actions comply with these policies (if they are in place). This will ensure you cannot be fobbed off.
Keep a diary of all events and actions, keep a file of evidence.
Ensure colleagues are aware of the bullying and its effect on you.
If you invoke a grievance procedure you should be able to find out why you are receiving this treatment. A HR person should assist.
ACAS is a good resource to use.
If you have developed a good bank of evidence and are forced out of work you may be able to take action under constructive or unfair dismissal. Ensure your rights and responsibilities and then stand firm.
Good luck