Worry About Keeping My Job

Question:

When I started work, I was bullied and tried to get a transfer. Every person I went to told me, “Stick to it. We have no room anywhere else at the moment”, and my boss refused to move me. Eventually, while my boss was on maternity leave, a new boss took over and changed my job descriptions so that I could leave this section and move to another.

I felt welcome there and still do. But I pick up a lot of bugs and get sick with vomiting and headaches. I was out quite a bit last year because of that and got a verbal warning. I was out again the last two days with vomiting and stomach cramps. Now my 3-year old has it, and I must stay off longer to care mind him. Can I be fired for this? Since my boss has returned, I feel she is building a case to oust me.

Signed,

Missing Too Much


Answer:

Dear Missing Too Much:

Your boss is responsible for maintaining a responsible work crew. Right? Therefore, before she took maternity leave, apparently she could see no way to transfer you. Now that she is back, she again is responsible for maintaining a reliable work force. Consequently, because she knows you have a record of absence, she probably, as you suggest, could be preparing to fire you. That is the worst-case scenario that you have outlined for us and that worries you. Can she do this? I don’t know your company’s policy regarding cause for discharging an employee, but you might be correct in sensing that your boss preparing such a case. Can she? I think she can.

If so, what can you do to not give her reason to do so? There is no simple answer; however, here are several suggestions: 1. Think straight. By that, I mean, you are right to not come to work sick and you are right that caring for you child comes first. Therefore in light of these two responsibilities to yourself and to others, you should make it a rule to notify your boss as early as possible when you are ill and do all you possibly can to arrange someone to care for your sick child. 2. Check with you boss and Human Resources as to what is the company’s policy about absences and warnings. Does the policy book spell out that employees should not come to work when sick? I expect it does. Does it state that you should notify your boss each day you are ill? Does it state that you should have a doctor’s excuse in order to get an excused absence? In short, know the rules and follow them. 3. Keep your boss informed about progress in recovering from illness, and once you have returned briefly, speak with her about how you regret being absent. 4. Log what happened in your previous job. What words and actions caused you to request a transfer, when, where, and who was involved. Also prepare a record of when you asked for a transfer and were refused. Don’t show this to anyone, but keep it so that if one of the reasons given for disciplining (you should that happen), you can meet with Human Resources and explain that you were not at fault and that should not prejudice your record of employment. Maintain a current record of calls you made (date and to whom you spoke) to inform your superior that you were ill. 5. Avoid gossip that you were bullied in your previous job and the fact that your job description was changed in order to permit a transfer. Don’t gossip about your boss. Talk gets back to those we talk about. Don’t say anything about your boss that you will not say to her face. Think about ways you can make your boss’ life easier. 6. Focus on getting to work early. Don’t rush to leave. Make being a productive responsible employee top priority on the job. Bring cheer to your job and not complaints. Think of others and the health of your company. Will this set of action prevent your boss from building a case to oust you? Not for sure, but it might allow you enough time to hold on to your job long enough to earn the respect you want and understanding you should have. Will it allow you to learn how to cope with bullies? Not for sure, but it might give you the courage to work in spite of those who put you down.

Do hold on. Keep your chin up while doing the best you can in spite of times of poor health. Continue to care for that child the best you can while supporting your young family. Working solo is not easy. Nor is working together. I’m sure you know that. Will these few thoughts raise your spirit? No likely, but hopefully they can spur you to find ways to see beyond your current worry. I wish for you resilience and thinking beyond your own worries. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS is my signature sentence. That is to say, you are needed. What you do has to have mattered lest you have been fired long ago. You have reason to worry, but don’t make it worse by worrying about worrying. So hang in there doing the best you can with the hand that has been dealt you.

William Gorden