Unreasonable employer - advice needed

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awkwardflower

Free Member
Feb 17, 2019
40
4
Dear members, I'm an employee of an entrepreneur in the UK which is why I thought it would be best to ask you for some advice.

The story is that I recently joined a small business for a promising job which I was excited about (and fully qualified for), but my experience is from a different market and the company size meant a lot of extra tasks I had no idea about. There was no training, but all the expectations to deliver, so obviously my performance attracted a lot of negative remarks and it was overall a really unpleasant experience, but before I could leave, I was let go anyway, I thought that was fair enough and I felt a lot of relief.

However, in my notice period the hostility got worse, and one day I nearly crashed my car driving home because I was so nervous. My partner said he's had enough of me coming home crying every day and told me to go and see the doctor. I did, and I notified my work of my absence, and told them about the two-week line and I even offered some remote work to finish some urgent tasks (it really is a very small business). Unfortunately none of this went down really well - my sickness period is affecting some holidays which is not very considerate but I cannot really control illness. (Besides, it contributed to my stress too as I was really dreading to cover and keep doing stuff I never before did only to mess up and get shouted at again.)

My employer is now questioning my illness (because I offered some help....) and threatened with "legal action". They also said it's a "huge hit" and I am causing them damage by not giving them time to find a cover. Just a reminder, it's a two-week line we're talking about, and they let me go in the first place...

So now they are sending me blackmailing emails to pressure me into quitting without working my notice. I don't really want to do that because it feels like that would be a breach of the contract (so far I don't think I've done anything wrong) and I'm covered by the doctor's note which I don't think they can just ignore. The question is, apart from why on earth are they are being like that, can they really do anything?
 

The Byre

Legacy Full Member
Aug 13, 2013
11,835
5,127
Probably not. They'll chalk it up to experience.

Most first-time employers mismanage staff and get things hopelessly wrong and usually hire the wrong people in the first place.

As we don't know what these unreasonable demands were, I cannot comment on whether it is a case of a bad employer or a bad employee. What were these tasks that you had never does before?
 
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awkwardflower

Free Member
Feb 17, 2019
40
4
Thanks for your reply!

I wouldn't like to talk about the tasks, because I'm afraid it might be recognisable in case they view this forum and I don't know what their response would be to that. It's not a first time employer, but I doubt anyone has ever presented a sick note to them.

It's quite possible that they did hire the wrong people, I certainly felt that in my case. Some tasks emerged because other people were also dismissed before (from different roles) and their tasks became spread out amongst the remaining staff. None of it was impossible to do, but they were somewhat far from my qualifications and work history, and I just didn't get them right on the first few occasions (and I got either passive aggressive, or plain aggressive remarks in exchange.) I don't think I was a bad employee as some of my work - the parts I was actually qualified and experienced in - did get some praise, but it was a very small proportion of the role. I totally acknowledged my underperformance in all the other bits, although some teaching instead of angry remarks would have been nice but I can even understand that running a small business is high pressure and makes people short-tempered. It's not really what I mean by them being unreasonable, but their current behaviour towards me on sick leave.

Essentially they accuse me for faking my sickness (because I was able to offer some help!) and their threatening language, and I think that's the unreasonable bit, especially in the case of a two-week line. The sick pay I'm entitled to is very little and my aim is certainly not to make them bankrupt or sabotage their business, neither do I want to commit benefit fraud or any other ridiculous things. I just couldn't take the stress with the job and other personal circumstances added up and the doctor understood this. I have the note and they just don't want to take it, instead, threaten me with "legal action" if I don't quit with immediate effect. So I'm just looking for advice if I need to prepare for anything, if there can be some kind of case against me - or hopefully some confirmation that I didn't do anything wrong.
 
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The Byre

Legacy Full Member
Aug 13, 2013
11,835
5,127
If the demands were genuinely unreasonable, then it was a case of 'constructive dismissal' though, as you have only been there for a short time, it is a theoretical advantage only.

Chalk it up to experience and work for more sensible and normal people in future!
 
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paulears

Free Member
Jan 7, 2015
5,011
1,378
Suffolk - UK
You recently joined, so you have no protection from being fired and they have mono protection from you leaving? Their attitude is so weird? You're being let go yet they expect you to smile, be happy, be productive and put them first???? What plotters. Forget any contractual stuff - their expectations of how people work is severely lacking. Don't even think you're in the wrong.
 
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awkwardflower

Free Member
Feb 17, 2019
40
4
Thanks for your replies. Yes, I know I shouldn't have offered any work, but - since the hostility was what sent me ill in the first place - I was really afraid of their reaction without it, and I thought if I offered some kind of help, I could maybe ease their anger with me (which would have happened anyway). In the past, other staff did work while sick by the way and they were thankful but I'm in a different position obviously.

I don't think that it's something that can be used against me though is it? That I offered something I could do, is no proof that I'm a liar anyway, is it? I'm already dismissed and I'm not breaking the law, neither am I breaching the contract as it's not laid out in it that I cannot take a sick leave in the notice period. So that's why I'm wondering what could they be possible threatening me with?
 
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awkwardflower

Free Member
Feb 17, 2019
40
4
Thanks for your replies! It's reassuring to know I'm not in the wrong.

I don't think it is a police matter, by blackmailing I mean, that they threaten me with these "legal actions" over the sick note (?), unless I quit with immediate effect. I haven't opted for that, so now I have to go back for a few more days after the sickness period ends which is a little scary to be honest after such correspondence... I'm thinking of just turning up with my partner, hand them the sick note in person and leave.

I have been reading this forum for reference points but it's hard to tell what's next for me, based on what happens at normal places....

I do save all emails in case it does go even more nasty than it is now but I certainly don't want to take it further, I just want to move on with my life.
 
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As this employment is coming to an end anyway, it seems to be the best thing is to just walk away, giving them (in writing, and without emotion) your reasons.

Start looking for a new job. This one is the past, and spending any time on it is making you unwell. It is not worth that, and neither you, nor they, have anything to benefit.

It is extremely unlikely that, beyond unpleasant emails, they will do anything. In reality, there is little, if anything, they can do anyway.
 
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JeffreyMills

Free Member
Sep 29, 2018
51
21
London
They cannot take “legal action” based on what you have described.
Best thing to do would be send an email stating you offered to do some work whilst sick as that is the usual culture there, but you now realise from the recent email exchanges that it wouldn’t be possible and you withdraw the offer of trying to work whilst sick. As per their dismissal of you, your last day will be (date) during which time you will be absent due to illness.
 
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awkwardflower

Free Member
Feb 17, 2019
40
4
Thanks for your previous replies. I do want to move on and forget about this place, however, they have emailed me again, that they have "filed a formal objection" against my sick note and they don't accept that I was sick (again, because I considered their interests and offered some effing work!) and because of that, they don't want to pay me SSP and offered me a payout until I was fit - otherwise I have to face the "legal consequences".

Again, I think this is blackmail, and I don't want to accept it, because I feel if I did I would also accept that my health concerns were not real and I don't think that an employer can just ignore an employee's sick note, even if it is in the notice period.

On the other hand, I really just want them to stop harassing me. I think this is bullying and intimidation.
 
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Just ignore the emails/calls/text.
You have handed in your notice, you are on sick leave, they are not going to sack you for fear of opening themselves up to a claim so just enjoy your next couple of weeks.

You are off with stress so doing things you enjoy will help with stress :)
 
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Newchodge

Business Member
Nov 8, 2012
16,221
4,584
Newcastle
If they don't pay what you are entitled to, take them to a tribunal.
they have "filed a formal objection" against my sick note a
That is garbage. Filed where, with whom? Thye are bullying you. Do not reply but make certain you keep everything.
 
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awkwardflower

Free Member
Feb 17, 2019
40
4
Thanks for your replies. Unfortunately they have gone now beyond unreasonable. I told them that I don't want to go back, and I want to use my remaining holidays after my sickness period ends, and now they claim I don't have any holidays left!

I think that's a lie, I have 28 days holidays (this includes bank holidays?), that's calculated per month, right? So that's 2.333 days/month, isn't it? So for a 4 month period I have 9.333 days, is it correct? I took some over Xmas but even if it includes bank holidays, I have some left so they are now just lying. I want to tell them that the reason I don't want to go back is their hostile attitude but I don't know how they'd react to that.

And then they wrote a long novel of how they find my "breaches of trust" so serious, and they are going to withhold my pay until the "legal matter" is settled. I think that is illegal. Do you think I can do something now?
 
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Newchodge

Business Member
Nov 8, 2012
16,221
4,584
Newcastle
What was your start date and when is your end date, how many days' holiday have you taken, including bank holidys - I'll calculate your actual holiday entitlement. Do you get full pay on sick leave? When were you last paid and when is your nest pay date?
 
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