My manager made my working life a living nightmare: Ask the expert

I was absent from work for three months due to ill health Feb – May 2009. Upon my return to work my manager was impossible, she has several private conversations with me without a witness suggesting I didn’t fit in, it would be better if I left. I was given an excessive workload above my level of experience and struggled so much, I spoke to my manger but was told to get out of her office. I refused to be beaten and really tried my best and was often threatened with the capability policy being evoked. Every other person in office grade was increased to a band three NHS admin after completion of foundation course and six weeks surgical experience, even though at the exam I gained the highest score I was the only member of staff not to be given the band three. The reason I was given, was I struggling with the workload. I was doing band four wards and extras but was kept to a band two grade. I lost all my confidence in my manager, myself and my ability to be a clinical coder and was a nervous wreck frantically looking for other jobs. Due to my sickness record my reference would be poor so I made a decision to ride out the storm, keep my head down and hope she forget I was there. I joked with a colleague, I would have a baby just to get away from that woman for 12 months and this information reached her office. I was summoned to her office and warned that if I did this I was out of that dept, she had rung HR and explained how difficult our job was and how temporary staff cannot do the job without training and she said HR had agreed we could be redeployed. I was at breaking point but assured her this wasn’t my plan. Two weeks later I was given my band three and she seemed to relax with me. I did not trust my manager and was still a nervous wreck and by chance fell pregnant. I went into breakdown mode, I rang HR crying, she said it was a union matter, then I rang the union and they said we had to go and see my managers manager and the thought just made me so ill. I was petrified that everything would start again, the private meeting, the humiliations in team briefings, the threats with the capability policy. I was due to take a weeks holiday so said I would contact the union upon my return. I was so ill in work I began to fall behind so finally admitted to my supervisor I was pregnant, I cried in her office that I could not take another 12 months of my manager’s treatment. She adjusted my workload but gave me a week to tell my manager because she was so scared for my health and the state of nerves I was in. She said you must tell her the day you return from holiday. I was called into my managers office before my holiday to do an appraisal and she said maybe I shouldn’t be working there as she had heard a rumour but I didn’t tell her I was pregnant. I started bleeding and went to the hospital where I was told the babies heart was slowing and it was 50/50 the baby would survive and I had to return in one week. I took my week’s holiday but spent it terrified about telling my manager I was terrified what she would do. I miscarried the day I was due to return to work maybe due to the stress. I followed procedure ringing my office and submitting Dr’s note but after three weeks my manager called me being horrible, suggesting a private meeting away from work, telling me how my colleagues are suffering for my absence, that I can never return due to my physical and emotional health. I said I didn’t want to talk just to update her on my health. I emailed to say she stressed me out so much today and her reply was that I stressed her and she will no longer deal with me her manager will. I went to occupational health who disagreed with my manager she stated I wasn’t fit to be a coder due to my emotional health. He stated I was fit to return to work and that there was nothing wrong with my mental health. He told me he was suggesting a referral to HR as what she had written was very unflattering and there are obviously other issues. My manager is off with ill heath so we haven’t seen each other yet but I am dreading her return. My back to work was done with her manager who had been well informed about me and my file was huge. Initially I think she planned to invoke capability policy but listened when I described why my performance wasn’t better. I explained also I’d had no further training workshops like every other staff member. She has devised a plan to settle me back in the work place and improve my performance so I am happy about that. My problem now is my treatment from before, her attitude towards me getting pregnant and how she will be when she returns. I need to do something to protect myself as I have no doubt she will somehow do something to discredit me. Thanking you in advance.


The treatment you have received from your manager over the last 18 months is likely to be sufficient for you to successfully argue that there has been a breakdown in the implied duty of trust and confidence which exists between every employer and employee.

This means that you could resign, with immediate effect, from your job and bring a claim for constructive unfair dismissal against your employer. Comments made by Occupational Health would support you with your claim. However, in order to put yourself in the best position, before bringing any claim, you should lodge a formal grievance in respect of the treatment that you have received from your Manager, giving details as set out in your email to Working Mums.

You need to set our your grievance in writing to your Manager’s immediate boss or to your employer’s HR department. The company should then arrange a meeting with you to discuss your grievance and will then make a decision as to whether or not they uphold your grievance. If they do uphold your grievance, then they should put in place steps to resolve the issues. If you do not agree with the decision that they make pursuant to a grievance meeting, then you can appeal against the decision and you can also then consider filing a claim for constructive unfair dismissal at the employment tribunal.

You need to decide what you ultimately hope to achieve:- a) Do you wish to resolve this matter with your employer and remain an employee? If so,setting out a formal grievance is the best way to proceed.
b) If you wish to resign and bring a claim for constructive dismissal because you have decided that you cannot continue working for your employer, given that it isaffecting your health etc, then my advice is to still lodge a formal grievance and then obtain legal advice as to the best time to resign and bring a claim for constructive dismissal at the tribunal.
c) A final option is for you to instruct a solicitor to send a without prejudice letter to your employer, seeking a termination package, on your behalf.

Please contact me on 0161 975 3823 in order to discuss your options further.

Whilst every care has been taken in compiling this answer, WorkingMums cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice.

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