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Dealing with staff sickness


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I am a manager of a 70 place day nursery with a staff team of 15. I don't really know any other nursery managers so hoping you guys have some wisdom to share


How do you deal with staff who are repeatedly being signed off work for stress/depression. I have a particular part time member of staff who got signed off for 2 weeks for the first time in September 2014. In the last year I have changed her working hours to fit in better with her son, and I also changed her area of work and who she works alongside, as these were things which she claimed were adding to her stress. I have helped her out with childcare costs and I have been paying her as a fully qualified when she is actually still training for level 3. I feel like I've moved mountains to try and make her happier and less stressed but nothing is working


She has just been signed off for 2 weeks with the same thing and then I got a Facebook message on Friday afternoon to tell me she's been back to the doctors and been signed off for a further 4 weeks


How can I handle this. It's putting pressure on the rest of the team as we are having to work harder to fill her job role. I can get temp staff in to cover but as they don't know the routine and the children they are limited to how much they can help the other staff.


I've rang ACAS and they've said I should try and support her with changing conditions to make her return to work and life in general less stressful but I don't know what else I can do. Surely it's getting to the point now where I've given her reasonable time and made reasonable adjustments but when it comes down to it, she is simply not able to fulfil her job role.


I promise I do try to be nice and supportive but sometimes feel I'm being taken the mickey out of ?


Any words of wisdom?

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What stress do you think the job is causing her? how much responsibility does she have, how does this stress manifest itself? Other than time off, what else is her doctor prescribing?


Does she need more training to understand her role better to give her more confidence in her abilities? Is the room where she works understaffed?


BTW welcome to the forum

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Thank you


in comparison with the rest of the team her workload is manageable, she has around 6 key children and the room where she works is overstaffed. It's the pre-school room and the room needs 3 staff but we have 4 in there to make sure there is enough people to share the workload.


I don't personally feel like the job causes her too much stress (no more than usual for our area of work anyway!). I think it is just her general personality and attitude and possibly home life. She stresses about her coursework sometimes but several people in the team have sat with her and offered to help but she doesn't take the offer. She phones in sick when her tutor is due to come out so misses out on the help from this angle too


I've praised her and told her what a good job she does and I've tried to change anything that she says is an issue, as mentioned in my original post. Feel like I'm fighting a losing battle. How do you give someone the ability to believe in themselves when they are not interested in cooperating at all. Or how do you give someone the ability to manage stress better

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I suppose what is ringing alarm bells from your last post really is her coursework, - has anyone seen it? How up to date is she and whether she understands what she is doing, especially if she wont accept help, or meet regularly with her tutor - I know the tutor thing is stressful for the students, I have an extremely able older student but she dislikes the tutor coming and speaking into the recorder etc., and that system wouldn't have suited me either, I preferred day release at college.


Stress and depression are extremely difficult to shake off if you are pre-disposed to them, and have had a history and I do feel you have done as much as possible to help your member of staff. I am hoping her GP is suggesting more than just time off!

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It does sound like you have tried to support her in the role. My staff would die for just 6 key children. Maybe it's just not the occupation for her.

If you don't feel there is anything else you could help her with you could send her to see an independent doctor. They also give feedback to the GP.


Sometimes (and I really don't say this meaning everyone) it is very easy to get time off classing it as stress. You will know her more and get a better idea. I hope you can sort it out soon for her and for you.

Edited by Lou
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I know what you mean. My other staff in the room luckily don't complain that she only has 6 and they have to have more! She is capable of doing more if she would only put the effort in and stop making excuses


I do feel to a certain degree the stress is played on to get out of doing some of the work. It's how I move forward now that stumps me.


She is quite behind with her coursework now because she's missed a lot of visits. She was given the option of writing about things or talking about them and chose to talk about them. Her tutor booked in weekly visits so she only had to talk about 1 thing at a time but since she misses a lot of the visits nothing is getting achieved. She is on her 2nd tutor now as the first one apparently wasn't supportive enough


I know I sound incredibly unsupportive but at the end of the day I'm trying to run a business and it's hard when one person doesn't want to play ball.


A job in Tesco looks more appealing by the day :-P

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I don't think you sound unsupportive at all quite the opposite in fact. I just think moving somebody forward like this is going to be dreadfully difficult and just maybe, stepping back from it may be the best thing of all for all concerned. A sort of sink or swim - to get her head together and work out if this job is really what she wants. However her key children must not suffer for this, but I am thinking as she has so much time off anyway, your other staff are covering her position in that regard,

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