Sanding our assholes with 150 grit.

Dealing with the boss

I mentioned in the "Bi-polar" thread that I have not been to work in a week.

So I talked to the boss today because I am feeling better and able to communicate.

I successfully resisted the urge to tell him that I am going to a psychiatrist and that I suffered a debilitating depressed episode. I have a tendency to be too honest.

So he sent me an email as follow up to the telephone conversation. The gist of it is I am fired if I do not show up with a doctor's note. Of course I have one. But even so, should I be looking for a new job or should I take him at his word?

They are going to dock me pay for the time, regardless, because I am over my vacation and sick day allotment.

A week's pay means I will not be able to pay my bills in total this month without dipping into my savings. That is fine and all I guess.

I feel like the world is spinning wrong. How does anyone make it through illness without support? What if something such as cancer had hit me? I have been working 15 years and never dealt with this personally.

I guess that's why people buy AFLAC. I am looking them up now as a matter of fact.
Permalink anon for this 
January 23rd, 2006
What sucks about going back to work is that now that my mental state is near normal and I am well rested, I have to now go to work. I spent my whole time at home in despair. What a cycle this is.
Permalink anon for this 
January 23rd, 2006
I still have difficulty understanding the notion that you have a maximum number of "alotted" sick days (regardless of the seriousness of your condition), and that you can just be fired for being ill. I imagine that that sort of thing in and of itself is going to cause stress and fatigue, spread any germs you may have around the office, and prolong whatever you're suffering form.

America, in many ways, is one of the most backward nations on earth. My advice -- get the fuck out of Dodge and come join us crazy Europeans!
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 23rd, 2006
They can't actually/technically fire me for being sick, I don't think. They can make my life difficult if I don't leave voluntarily. I work for a tiny company so they also don't have to follow all the rules larger companies do. Not to mention employment is "at will" or whatever.

The whole "let us sit down and discuss the issues and the reasons how we can corner you into looking like a fuck-up if we please" is uncomfortable.
Permalink anon for this 
January 23rd, 2006
This happens in the UK as well. You may have a number of days you can go sick but once you go above that you're on Statutory Sick Pay which is about £70 a week and you can easily get onto either a disciplinary track or a disability track.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
January 24th, 2006
I don't get Mat's complaint. You have a number of sick days, just like you have a number of vacation days. These are days you're still getting paid but you're not working, no questions asked.

Beyond that is a fuzzy area where, since you're not able to do your job, they may need to get someone else, so some sort of dialogue is in order.

You mean to tell me that in England you can get paid your full salary forever without doing work just because you're sick?
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 24th, 2006
SSP only kicks in for x number of consecutive days sickness, and they can't fire you for being sick. They can question it, insist you get a doctor's note, etc., but if they either fire you as a direct result or in some way push you out without reaching a mutual agreement there's normally a reasonable claim of constructive or unfair dismissal. "They fired me 'cause I got cancer and needed time off for chemo", for example, is not going to win a company many friends...
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 24th, 2006
Okay.

What does that have to do with the OP? Sounds like you're saying the exact same thing his boss is saying.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 24th, 2006
I've never felt guited in to coming in to work because I'm sick, or thought "oh, crap, I've already been ill three times this year, so despite the fact that my arm's just fallen off and I have great pustules bursting out all over my body I'd better go to work or they might get rid of me". If you're ill, you're ill...
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 24th, 2006
Until you've worked somewhere for 12 months you have no rights in Employment law, though you may in Contract law. Even then someone that is persistently ill (for whatever reason) can be let go.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
January 24th, 2006
Mat, either you haven't fully read the OP or you're just being a stupid bloody troll.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 24th, 2006
No I think Mat gets it fine. There is INCREDIBLE pressure around these parts to come to work even if your limbs are rotting off. Everybody here brags about how much sick time they have 'banked' while they come in with the plague and infect everyone else.
Permalink Generic Error 
January 24th, 2006
I have fully read it, and I'm not being a troll. In what way would I be trolling by expressing a measure of confusion as to why people like him or Mark W have to worry so much when they're ill. It's bad enough being ill in the first place, but forcing yourself to go back to work before you're ready or getting stressed about how being ill may jeopardise your job isn't a helpful state of affairs, especially in the situation where you absence may in itself be down to depression...
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 24th, 2006
Et tu, Warner?

The boss is perfectly within his right to demand some explanation if one of his employees has been out for a week.

The OP is going through a major crisis and just isn't up to sharing what he's going through, but must if he wants to keep his job, and is afraid he won't make rent if he doesn't show up for work.

The fear of being fired may be part of the whole gung-ho, show up for work no matter what thing, but I'd think it has more to do with being out for a week with no explanation and fear of the stigma surrounding mental ilness.

If he'd called in sick, and showed up missing a pinky, none of the rest of this would be a concern.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 24th, 2006
Demand an explanation? Sure! Of course!

But, even with DOCUMENTED and LEGITIMATE reasons for being out, there's still a lot of levering and intimidating and fear involved in being ill for any extended length of time.

Now I understand that the employer is in the business of doing business and a sick employee is less valuable than a healthy one (potentially, not necessarily), but a little compassion is a very good thing, especially if that sick fellow is a key employee who will only get sicker if given grief.
Permalink Generic Error 
January 24th, 2006
Conjecture.

The boss in question hasn't done anything like what you said in the firt paragraph, and isn't aware of the reason why, so hasn't been given the opportunity to be compassionate. All he's done is say that the absence must be legitimate.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 24th, 2006
Well Mark, what do you THINK the reaction of the boss is likely to be to the explanation "I'm having a bit of a nervous breakdown" ?
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 24th, 2006
Again, that speaks to the stigma surrounding mental illness and not having an allotment of sick days.

I still fail to see how Mat's post is relevant. How would someone staying out of work for a week with no explanation play out in jolly old England?
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 24th, 2006
Fine. I guess it depends on your boss, but I took a couple of days off last week because with everything going on in my life I just couldn't face going in to work -- no real medical reason for it, and I didn't take it as leave, I just had a couple of days off. Had I felt that I *had* to come in then I would have done, but I wouldn't have been very productive and would have failed to get an opporunity to get a bit of quiet thinking time, and everyone would have lost out.

The same holds true everywhere I've worked -- providing you're not obviously taking the piss there's a sort of understanding that people get ill or run down, and forcing people to come in to work regardless is counterproductive for both the employer and the employee...
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 24th, 2006
Mark -

At my last job (which admittedly, I was laid off from eventually along with thousands of other people) they didn't even count your sick days. If you were sick you were out, and that was all. No notes, no explanations, you were just out.

Now, if somebody took wanton advantage there had better be a good reason, but that never happened, and everyone was fine.

Compare that to micro-management, document every hour, if-I-can't-see-you-then-you're-goofing-off style of mangement, where people tend to get as many days as they can get away with, and when they ARE out sick it's hardly ever just for a day. At least in my experience.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 24th, 2006
Mat - that may very well be a difference between the UK and the US. I just don't think it has anything to do with the OP.

Also, I think this discussion is probably the least productive direction the thread could have gone in, but that's probably my fault.




In my experience, bosses are more concerned about the future than the past - that this could be an indicator that you'll miss work in the future. I know someone who just couldn't go in to work one day and like you, didn't call and avoided calls until late in the day. Eventually, towards the evening, she worked it out with her boss, and just a few months later she was promoted into a position of greater responsibility. It might help that her boss was also a woman, and I think the promotion came from above, but these stories don't always have bad endings.

Just do yourself a favor and save up some money so you have some leeway in the future.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 24th, 2006
I guess that's also a difference between a small company and one that has an HR department. With an HR department you have a layer of cushion between you and your boss - strictly prescribed sick days, policies for leave beyond your allotted days, and your manager has to supply a good reason to get rid of you. At a small company, you lose that layer of formality.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 24th, 2006
Mark -

The job where I could come and go as I pleased was a Fortune 1000 insurance co.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 24th, 2006
I have the same experience that you have Warner (too many Mark's) ... My current employer (A major international financial firm) has the same policy regarding sick time. If your sick, don't come in. If it's abused, then we'll talk.
Permalink Jacob 
January 24th, 2006
I wish I was still in that situation, Jacob :)
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 24th, 2006
Too much of this thread isn't helpful to the OP.

What bosses like is predictability, they like feeling like they have control. When someone doesn't show up for work for a week, a boss gets nervous. Rightfully so, if you ask me. Employees are pissed off when their paychecks are late. Rightfully so. See the connection? An employer and an employee trade predictabilities - a steady income for a steady productivity.

So give the boss as much predictability as possible. Tell them you have a recently diagnosed medical condition. The boss sounds willing to lower your hours to accomodate - they'd rather have three good days from you than have you show up every day but only be able to work 60% of the time. It'll be good for you as it reduces your stress (ie, doubles the weekend) and your guilt (and the anxiety guilt spawns). But you do need to get 3 days worth of work done per week however.

Also since it's very hard to find part-time work at the salary rate of a developer (how much less money would you make working 24 hours/wk at Wal-Mart?), it behooves you to stay with a company that is accomodating your current medical schedule.
Permalink Spinoza 
January 24th, 2006

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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