Diane is 59 years old, and she suffers from anxiety and depression. I would be sympathetic for most people, but Diane isn’t most people. She had 2 years off work and would never have come back except she thought she might get a few quid if she made a big fuss.
So she made a big fuss, hoping that during the restructure the company had forgotten about her and would pay her to go away rather than make room for her. Except the company did make room for her, and welcomed her back (albeit slightly reluctantly, since they knew she’d be trouble).
Since then, Diane has behaved like a spoiled child, stamping her feet and making a scene wherever possible. Despite coming back in a supervisory role, she tried not to do her job, and got away with it. The company allowed her to continue with her therapy appointments, and time off to go line-dancing (since it helped her stress-levels).
Finally, her manager had had enough and started to make her come in on time, manage her staff and get on with her job.
She threw a strop, and cried and made a fuss and went off sick.
She didn’t want to see a doctor from Occupational Health, so we send him to her house.
He told us she would be ok to go back to work if only the relationship with her line manager could be resolved.
That’s where I came in.
I went to see this pathetic little slip of a woman, hiding behind her arms, peering out with wide, anxious eyes at me. Scratching at her neck, worrying and wringing her hands.
Oh dear. Said I. This is terrible. I think we need to take your grievance further so we can sort out the problems with your line manager and get you back to work.
Oh no, said her union representative.
We just want £150,000 instead.
Why? Said I.
Because she doesn’t want to go back to work, and her manager is making her do things she doesn’t like.
What, her job, you mean?
Yes, but she can’t do it.
Oh well, we’ll see, say I.
So I ask Diane about the work she used to do, many years ago in Finance, when things were better.
Her arms came down to her lap, she looked at me and smiled, and chatted away like a grown up for the first time in the meeting.
Ill my arse.