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  • FIRST POST
    • TyreLever
    • By TyreLever 12th Mar 18, 3:45 AM
    • 197Posts
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    TyreLever
    Can people really take time off work for "stress"?
    • #1
    • 12th Mar 18, 3:45 AM
    Can people really take time off work for "stress"? 12th Mar 18 at 3:45 AM
    Work is naturally stressful and I hear of people taking time off work for stress. Stress alone doesnt sound like a valid reason, if I phoned in work and said I wouldnt be in because I feel stressed, I know where I'd be told to get off (the jobcentre). How do people get long term sick pay for stress? Is our nation becoming intolerably weak?
    Sometimes my advice may not be great, but I'm not perfect and I do try my best. Please take this into account.
Page 2
    • FBaby
    • By FBaby 12th Mar 18, 5:34 PM
    • 17,122 Posts
    • 42,077 Thanks
    FBaby
    The problem with stress is with can't help but judging others based on our own ability to cope with stress. If you are resilient, you don't have much respect for those who seem to be stressed at the slightest challenge. If your stress threshold is low, then you think anyone who doesn't have sympathy is a bully.

    I am probably quite high on the resilience scale so probably fall under the former, but what really gets to me is not so much people with low resilience but people who think that all stress should be avoided and don't accept that any form of resilience can only be build by being exposed by some level of stress.
    • TyreLever
    • By TyreLever 17th Mar 18, 6:36 AM
    • 197 Posts
    • 91 Thanks
    TyreLever
    Or perhaps, TyreLever, you have been so privileged as to work for bosses who actually know your job; how to do it, the pressures and limitations therein and, most importantly, how it feels to be in your postion. In short, maybe your employer(s) actually give a t0$$.
    Originally posted by Smodlet
    I have had jobs in the past that were just shy of making me wish I was dead. I never went on sick leave for stress, I just quit and went back on the dole and looked for different work. It took me about 10 years of temporary and/or minimum wage jobs before I got the one I'm at now. I think how I felt about my situation was more bitter anger than anxiety or stress. Altho I did feel very down quite a bit so I know many cases are genuine. I just feel that "stress" leave has become a pizs-take now. As mentioned, this has consequences for those genuine cases.
    Sometimes my advice may not be great, but I'm not perfect and I do try my best. Please take this into account.
    • Les79
    • By Les79 17th Mar 18, 8:05 AM
    • 1,062 Posts
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    Les79
    I have had jobs in the past that were just shy of making me wish I was dead. I never went on sick leave for stress, I just quit and went back on the dole and looked for different work. It took me about 10 years of temporary and/or minimum wage jobs before I got the one I'm at now. I think how I felt about my situation was more bitter anger than anxiety or stress. Altho I did feel very down quite a bit so I know many cases are genuine. I just feel that "stress" leave has become a pizs-take now. As mentioned, this has consequences for those genuine cases.
    Originally posted by TyreLever
    You see, I don't understand who you are having a go at here...

    Can you quote some specific examples of where employees have taken time off for "stress" and have been shown to be blagging it? Newspaper article links are fine. I have no doubt that there will be examples, but it may help to re-focus the discussion a little!

    I only ask because I've only ever gone off sick for stress because I was in the exact same position as you! The point where "I just quit and went back on the dole" was a credible option as well. But at the end of the day, the government/company offer you money whilst off sick so why not take advantage of that (so long as you are genuinely ill)? Going off sick for stress was a kick up the bum for my employer and it got bearable from then on.

    Or are you trying to argue that "stress" isn't a good enough reason to go off sick? If you are, may I enquire as to why you spewed quite a few jobs? Funny that "stress" isn't it? Makes you think in a distorted way and do extreme things.... That being said, you seem to be classifying your situation as something other than stress; yea I can relate to that. I didn't sit there rationally thinking that I had stress, but rather that "bitter anger" you mention! Still, it probably just is stress when you look at it rationally. Even if it isn't, the whole environment is affecting you mentally and "stress" is just a nice little blanket term for something you usually can't describe with any other word. You wouldn't go off work with "bitter anger".

    I actually think that you've probably worked in those sort of places which rule by fear; that encourage you to think that going off sick due to stress or anything like that is *weak*. I think that might be why you are slightly distorted in your viewpoint over "stress", especially as you haven't really defined who you have a pet peeve against (is it people like me who handle bad stress by going off sick instead of spewing a fairly stable job?).

    (btw I'm not talking about everyday stress, like having to get a report done at last minute because of a demanding boss. I'm talking about stress which leads you to the "I just quit and went back on the dole" mindset)
    Last edited by Les79; 17-03-2018 at 8:15 AM.
    • Nick_C
    • By Nick_C 17th Mar 18, 8:14 AM
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    Nick_C
    OP. I'm sure your question is entirely innocent. I'm glad that you've never suffered the type of stress that makes you ill and incapable of going into work. I hope you never do. It's not nice.
    • JReacher1
    • By JReacher1 17th Mar 18, 8:27 AM
    • 3,089 Posts
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    JReacher1
    Being off work for stress is a difficult one. It is a serious medical condition which can seriously affect someone and is a genuine reason for being absent for work.

    The problem is that I do think a small number of people do get signed off work with stress when they should not be

    As an example in my department I know five people who have been off with stress. Four were genuine but one was just using it as an excuse because they knew they would not hit a dealline. They self certified for a week and did not see a doctor. It is however impossible to prove this is what they did.
    Last edited by JReacher1; 17-03-2018 at 8:28 AM. Reason: To resolve the wonders of !!!8216;
    • Detroit
    • By Detroit 17th Mar 18, 8:31 AM
    • 747 Posts
    • 2,333 Thanks
    Detroit
    Work should not be naturally stressful. It may be pressured, but the employee should typically feel they can cope.

    If this is not the case, either there is something wrong with the job ( which would be indicated if other people doing it felt the same); the person is not competent or is unsuited to the work; or the person is unwell.

    Sometimes it's a combination of these things. Sometimes people use it as an excuse not to work, sometimes to excuse poor performance.

    It's a complex area with no definitive answer.


    Put your hands up.
    • Nick_C
    • By Nick_C 17th Mar 18, 8:33 AM
    • 4,763 Posts
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    Nick_C
    Work should not be naturally stressful. It may be pressured, but the employee should typically feel they can cope.

    If this is not the case, either there is something wrong with the job ( which would be indicated if other people doing it felt the same); the person is not competent or is unsuited to the work; or the person is unwell.

    Sometimes it's a combination of these things. Sometimes people use it as an excuse not to work, sometimes to excuse poor performance.

    It's a complex area with no definitive answer.
    Originally posted by Detroit
    It may also be that the person is being bullied or unfairly treated.
    • Detroit
    • By Detroit 17th Mar 18, 9:04 AM
    • 747 Posts
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    Detroit
    It may also be that the person is being bullied or unfairly treated.
    Originally posted by Nick_C
    Absolutely. I'd put this in the category of something being wrong with the job, but it would be something not necessarily experienced by others, so is an important distinction.


    Put your hands up.
    • robatwork
    • By robatwork 17th Mar 18, 9:57 AM
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    robatwork
    The problem is that this is a bit of a pointless thread. It all depends on my, your, and everyone else's definition of stress. What some are talking about here would fall into my definition of depression. Here are a couple of definitions:

    STRESS a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.

    DEPRESSION a mood disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies

    I tend to think that by my own internal definition, anyone in a job is stressed. We are paid to do something that is going to cause some mental strain. Footballer or flipping burgers, someone is paying you to do something that at least in small bursts will require concentration, mental exertion and pressure from outside forces (generally people). This will cause stress - even from its scientific definition.

    So you really can't generalise unless you define it exactly.
    • xXMessedUpXx
    • By xXMessedUpXx 20th Mar 18, 7:09 PM
    • 17,351 Posts
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    xXMessedUpXx
    I have bipolar disorder. Stress for me usually ends up with me being either manic or depressed, both of which have led to time off sick. Stress may not effect you but for others it can have a huge effect on their ability to function.
    "Life Is Like A Beautiful Melody Only The Lyrics Are Messed Up"
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    • Manxman in exile
    • By Manxman in exile 20th Mar 18, 7:50 PM
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    Manxman in exile
    Isn't the problem that the word "stress" has more than one meaning?


    AIUI, stress can be good for me. I can stress my muscles and skeleton by rowing or weight training. Apparently that makes my muscles and skeleton stronger. I can do the same for my CV system by running or cycling etc. All this stress makes me stronger. I can even "stress" my brain by intensive study and that makes my brain better. All this stress is good for you.


    But if you've got a medical diagnosis of work related stress - that's something completely different and is not good for you!
    • pimento
    • By pimento 21st Mar 18, 9:11 AM
    • 5,609 Posts
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    pimento
    You've also got to consider what's going on in their life outside of work. I've had people signed off for stress who are being evicted, because their family members are in hospital dying, money problems and carers responsibilities. Sometimes when so much is going on outside work dealing with stress at work is impossible. I'm glad you've never experienced stress that's prevented you from working.
    Originally posted by Diamandis
    I was signed off with stress for four months when my husband of 35 years was dying of cancer. Nothing to do with the job, in fact, my employer was very understanding but there was no way I could have come to work while that was going on.
    "If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." -- Red Adair
    • shortcrust
    • By shortcrust 21st Mar 18, 9:21 AM
    • 2,295 Posts
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    shortcrust
    Isn't the problem that the word "stress" has more than one meaning?


    AIUI, stress can be good for me. I can stress my muscles and skeleton by rowing or weight training. Apparently that makes my muscles and skeleton stronger. I can do the same for my CV system by running or cycling etc. All this stress makes me stronger. I can even "stress" my brain by intensive study and that makes my brain better. All this stress is good for you.


    But if you've got a medical diagnosis of work related stress - that's something completely different and is not good for you!
    Originally posted by Manxman in exile
    Of course. But reducing a complex set of issues to a single word really helps when you're starting a troll thread.
    • TELLIT01
    • By TELLIT01 21st Mar 18, 9:23 AM
    • 6,114 Posts
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    TELLIT01
    The problem is that this is a bit of a pointless thread. It all depends on my, your, and everyone else's definition of stress. What some are talking about here would fall into my definition of depression. Here are a couple of definitions:

    STRESS a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.

    DEPRESSION a mood disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies

    I tend to think that by my own internal definition, anyone in a job is stressed. We are paid to do something that is going to cause some mental strain. Footballer or flipping burgers, someone is paying you to do something that at least in small bursts will require concentration, mental exertion and pressure from outside forces (generally people). This will cause stress - even from its scientific definition.

    So you really can't generalise unless you define it exactly.
    Originally posted by robatwork
    Even GPs seem to think that the terms 'stress', 'anxiety' and 'depression' are interchangeable. When I worked on ESA we were told not to bother updating the incapacity on the system if the original medical certificate said one of the above and a subsequent one had one of the others.

    I agree that there is stress in everybody's life but it's when the stress level is such that the individual is unable to function normally that it becomes a problems. Once you've seen a normally confident, resilient person break down in tears because of a work situation over which they have little or no control, you understand what 'work related stress' is.
    • Gavin83
    • By Gavin83 21st Mar 18, 9:53 AM
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    Gavin83
    I think a big issue is that unlike physical issues mental issues such as stress are easy to fake or exaggerate. I've seen people take months of stress leave as a way to punish their employer, normally because they've had a disagreement with their boss or they're going through a legitimate disciplinary procedure. The issue is though that it's difficult to prove this one way or another. It's these people who give the genuinely stressed a bad name.
    • ViolaLass
    • By ViolaLass 21st Mar 18, 10:11 AM
    • 5,553 Posts
    • 7,680 Thanks
    ViolaLass
    Being off work for stress is a difficult one. It is a serious medical condition which can seriously affect someone and is a genuine reason for being absent for work.

    The problem is that I do think a small number of people do get signed off work with stress when they should not be

    As an example in my department I know five people who have been off with stress. Four were genuine but one was just using it as an excuse because they knew they would not hit a dealline. They self certified for a week and did not see a doctor. It is however impossible to prove this is what they did.
    Originally posted by JReacher1
    Although that deadline may have contributed to the stress...
    • TELLIT01
    • By TELLIT01 21st Mar 18, 10:42 AM
    • 6,114 Posts
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    TELLIT01
    I think a big issue is that unlike physical issues mental issues such as stress are easy to fake or exaggerate.
    Originally posted by Gavin83
    It's possible to exaggerate the extent of physical injury as well. Back pain and whiplash injuries being just two of those where a doctor can easily be conned by a determined liar.
    • robatwork
    • By robatwork 21st Mar 18, 12:35 PM
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    • 5,699 Thanks
    robatwork
    I agree that there is stress in everybody's life but it's when the stress level is such that the individual is unable to function normally that it becomes a problems. Once you've seen a normally confident, resilient person break down in tears because of a work situation over which they have little or no control, you understand what 'work related stress' is.
    Originally posted by TELLIT01
    And that again is variable, as what maybe a mild annoyance to me that I will laugh about later with my wife may make a colleague break down in tears and run screaming for the hills. So that depends on how resilient an employee is.

    And while I'd agree with your assertion that if a normally confident person breaks down it would be due to unusually high stress, we are again in the realms of defining "normal".

    Total min(d/e)field and I don't envy doctors dealing with this.
    • Smegreg
    • By Smegreg 29th Jul 18, 7:05 PM
    • 38 Posts
    • 29 Thanks
    Smegreg
    I am a cop and have been for 12 years. I have felt my stress levels go up and down throughout my career depending on my boss, my role, my workload. Police has an extraordinary level of officers off on sick with stress related health issues. I have watched my friends turn from confident, bold, decision makers and leaders, into crumbling wrecks. Its like I can see the ship around me sinking and I'm still stood there hoping it will be ok and we'll get out ok.

    I've just been promoted and it is now worse than ever. I've only been there 4 weeks and already I am really struggling under the strain of trying to chase my own tail as the work is piling on. Our unit is so understaffed that we are all carrying at least the workload of 2. So the people around me are also stressed and ill as a result. However, they feel compelled to stay in work because if they go off sick, it effects our chances of moving to a different role / unit as their sick records would be too high. So they are forced keep coming in and getting more sick.

    I have an exit plan as I've gone back to school, but I'm still a year off finishing my course, so still have a year left minimum of the police. The thought of this is so upsetting.

    I'm sat here on a Sunday dreading going back tomorrow. I've not enjoyed my time off, for worrying about going back there. I feel sick and my heart is going faster than a resting heart rate should be. For the past couple of weeks, I have had so many stomach cramps and headaches. My skin is worse than it ever has been and I have piled on weight. If I think logically, I know this is anxiety / stress. However, I worry about not going in, because I carry so much work with such great risk and there is no one there to take it off me because everyones in the same boat. This makes it even worse.

    I also worry about what my colleagues would think of me because firstly I am new in this team, so haven't even been under this stress for a long time and also they know I want to leave anyway, so believe they would just think i was skiving before I left. I'm convinced they would say i was making it up.

    Stress in the workplace is very real and ends up manifesting itself as a physical sickness.

    Maybe soon I will feel brave enough to acknowledge this out loud and at work rather than making myself sicker.
    • Rosemary7391
    • By Rosemary7391 30th Jul 18, 10:12 AM
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    Rosemary7391
    I've had major issues with stress twice now.



    First time, I didn't take time off but it came with some pretty concerning, undeniable physical symptoms (suffice to say that men would not have the same symptom!). I guess if the source of stress hadn't been removed I would've ended up with some other physical complications from those symptoms.



    The problem with stress is with can't help but judging others based on our own ability to cope with stress. If you are resilient, you don't have much respect for those who seem to be stressed at the slightest challenge. If your stress threshold is low, then you think anyone who doesn't have sympathy is a bully.

    I am probably quite high on the resilience scale so probably fall under the former, but what really gets to me is not so much people with low resilience but people who think that all stress should be avoided and don't accept that any form of resilience can only be build by being exposed by some level of stress.
    Originally posted by FBaby

    I think we also need to consider that different things are stressful to different people in different ways, and building resiliance to eg, stress from workload doesn't help with other forms of stress. I'm really resiliant to some forms of stress but others not so much.



    As far as I'm aware, the person who was the main contributor to my second issue with stress still thinks he was helping me. I had to take two weeks off work. We no longer talk...





    Isn't the problem that the word "stress" has more than one meaning?


    AIUI, stress can be good for me. I can stress my muscles and skeleton by rowing or weight training. Apparently that makes my muscles and skeleton stronger. I can do the same for my CV system by running or cycling etc. All this stress makes me stronger. I can even "stress" my brain by intensive study and that makes my brain better. All this stress is good for you.


    But if you've got a medical diagnosis of work related stress - that's something completely different and is not good for you!
    Originally posted by Manxman in exile



    It can still be overdone, even those physical stresses. You can get fractures from running too far/hard before your body has time to adapt. You can strain muscles and then they need rest to recover. And you can be brilliant at lifting weights, but if you try to run a marathon and haven't trained for it you're going to come unstuck.
    Slinkies 2018 Challenge - 0/80lb lost
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