We said that this was going to be our year …

… the year when, after some difficult times things would go right.

We thought that we were heading in the right direction in march, when I found a job again. It wasn’t my dream job, and I was rather over-qualified, but it was close to home and being a little less than full-time it would work well as I continued to look after my mum at home.

I wasn’t overly happy that I found myself in a small office, alone for all of the day, having to deal with phone calls and visitors as well as sorting out one heck of a mess that had been left behind by my predecessor. But I did it. You have to be adaptable and I knew that change was coming. That the chief executive and the outside accountant were both retiring in the spring. Then we could drag an organisation that was way behind the times into the twentieth century.

When my mother was taken ill I was shattered. Now though she his herself again, but her lack of mobility and general frailty meant that coming home wasn’t viable. The adjustment took time, but she is settled now and, I think, much better for being relieved of many of life’s practical concerns. I’m in the process of applying to the Court of Protection so that I can become my mother’s deputy, and take on the responsibility for everything she needs. It’s a long, painful and bureaucratic business, but hopefully it will be sorted out soon.

It also leaves my fiance and I free to marry, once we get our finances on an even keel. He’s looking for a job, but he’s had health issues in the past, and so it’s not at all easy in times like these.

Meanwhile, my chief executive decided to stay on a little longer. And his very good friend the outside accountant decided to stay on too. And they didn’t want change, they wanted things to stay just the way they were.

I decided it was time to look for another job.

My relationship with the outside accountant had been cordial at first, but it changed. Actually, it became non-existent – he would only speak to me on those occasions when he range to speak to the chief executive and I picked up the phone. He made critical reports to the board, nitpicking, just little things that I could quite easily have explained or put right if I was asked. But I wasn’t.

Because if there aren’t issues with the accounts to be sorted out before that go to the auditor, if the in-house accountant knows her job, how does the outside accountant justify his very substantial fees?

Definitely time to look for another job.

The Finance/Administration Manager quit last week. He was called into a meeting about the accounts, and he was appalled at things that were said. It was clear, he told me, that the outside accountant was stirring things, exploiting the lack of understanding that the board had of day-to day accounting. He told me to watch my back.

I had a week’s holiday booked this week. I’d only had one day off in eight months and I had days to use or lose before the end of the year. A little down time, a little sorting out at home, and a little job-seeking.

On Tuesday night I emailed the agency that got me my job, to say that I was looking again and explain why.

I looked on their website while I was there and I saw an accountancy job close to home. When I pulled up the details it was horribly, horribly familiar. It was the same job description that they had sent me nearly a year ago, but with a rather lower salary, and it had been placed two days before I went on leave.

I was in pieces. I wanted out, but I had given them no reason to push me, they had never asked me to do anything differently or questioned the way that I did things.

The Finance/Administration Manager called me on Thursday. He was taking his notice period as annual leave, but the chairmen had asked him to come in and sort out a few things. And to call me to tell me that I would be meeting with the chief executive and the newly appointed HR Consultant (a friend of the chief executive) on my return to work next Monday.

That was my holiday well and truly wrecked.

Now UK employment law allows dismissal without warning – and without reason –  in the first year of employment. And I can’t say that’s wholly a bad thing. Sometimes things just don’t work out.

But even if that is the case – and  maybe it is – the way things have been handled here is distressing, and just plain wrong.

My first response was to withdraw, to abandon this blog, the internet, and just curl up with my books, my knitting and my dog. But then I rallied.

I will deal with whatever is thrown at me on Monday and I will state my case. Calmly and rationally.

I will find a new job. A better job, doing what I’m good at.

That may take a little while, and I hate that in all probability I shall be unemployed at Christmas for the second year in a row, but we will survive. A little time off may even do me good.

My mother had a lovely birthday, she is very happy with the cardigan I knitted, and she is being taken out to a carol service on Sunday. I’m a little anxious because she hasn’t been out – other than sitting on the patio – since she moved into the home, and it is cold out. But I’ve taken out her winter coat and a selection of hats and gloves, and I do have confidence in the staff who have been looking after her beautifully.

And Briar is fit again. She’s much brighter, though she hasn’t found the confidence to jump into her chair yet. I’ve provided a little step, and I will make it smaller and smaller until she’s jumping. We’ve noticed that she uses the step when we aren’t looking, but when we are she waits in the hope that we will lift her. But we aren’t going to fall for it!

Now I need to sort myself out. While I’m dealing with difficult things I’m going to be comfort reading and blogging sporadically, and so challenges and commitments have been thrown out of the window. I’m just hanging on to the long-term projects to keep me heading in the right direction.

End of rant – I don’t do this often, but once in a while I have to.

Hopefully next year will be our year …

39 responses

  1. Jane, I’m so sorry to hear this – an awful situation at any time, let alone your holiday and with Christmas coming. Honestly, it sounds like they don’t deserve you. I will be thinking good thoughts for you on Monday, and hoping you do find some good comforting reading. Do keep us posted.

  2. What a horrible time you have been having. I think you will definitely be better off out of there! But what a dreadful way to be treated. I hope you manage to get things sorted satisfactorily and they listen to you properly. Good luck.

  3. I am so very sorry that this is happening. In the past I have been in a situation where I was feeling bullied and intimidated by the management structure I worked for. Not my immediate line manager, but the organisation and head office management.

    The first thing I did was to join a union – I selected GMB (http://www.gmb.org.uk/home.aspx) and you can join them online. I also spoke with ACAS (http://www.acas.co.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1461) and sought their advice. I understand that you have worked for them for under a year (I had been with my company 10 years), but even so there is best practice.

    The following might be of use https://www.gov.uk/solve-workplace-dispute

    You don’t say if you are a member of a professional body or regulator, but if you are perhaps contact them. I know that time is of the essence and you are feeling very vulnerable, but keep calm, head high and do not let them see that you are feeling anything but strong.

    Good luck for Monday.

    • Thank you Julie. I’m ICAEW and I have looked to ACAS for guidance, but as I’ve been there for less than a year they can let me go. I could only claim if it was some sort of discrimination. There are other things I could take up, but I need to look forward and not back I think.

  4. Jane I’m so sorry to read this tale. You have indeed been treated poorly. I’ll be thinking of you on Monday and hope that things work out well for you soon.

  5. It’s difficult, I know, but it does sound as if the job is a situation you will be well out of. So just hang on in there and believe that life will get better. Think about the positive things – Briar is fit again, your mother is much improved and is happy. And whatever you do, don’t shut yourself away, because then it’s horribly difficult to pick up the pieces again. Keep in contact with your friends, keep doing the things you enjoy, and keep believing in yourself and the things you are good at. Good luck for the future.

  6. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been having such an awful time, Jane. You don’t deserve to be treated like that and it does sound as if they’ve handled the situation very badly. Good luck on Monday and hopefully it won’t be long before you can find another job where you’ll be happy and feel valued. On a more positive note, I’m glad Briar is better and your mother liked the cardigan!

    • Thank you, helen. I’ve always tried to be sensitive to people’s feelings and situations, and I just wish more people were the same. I have a couple of interviews lined up, and hopefully the right job and people are out there.

  7. Jane, this is shoddy and shabby treatment. I am so sorry that you have been on the receiving end of it but, frankly, if it were me, I would rather not work for individuals like this. I hope that you get the opportunity to work in a fair and kind environment in the not-too-distant future.

    • There’s an unfortunate mix of people who have been in the same job for so long they can’t think that there’s another way to do things and people who are looking out for number one. But I say onwards and upwards.

  8. Oh, Jane, you poor thing. This sounds awful, and so stressful. I’m not going to attempt to give you any advice, but I wish you all the very best – and I hope you know that your regular blog readers aren’t just here for the books, but because we appreciate you, and we want to support you.

  9. Things can and do turn around. My daughter, after many difficulties with her job (not the same as yours but still a real pain) and health, found herself well after a back op and with a new job that she loves. We would never have believed that things could change *so* quickly. Hang in there and good luck on Monday. Don’t let them grind you down.

    • I’m so pleased things worked out for your daughter Cath. The job where I was happiest came about purely by chance, when the firm I trained with asked if i was free to do a maternity cover. I stayed for ten years, made some lovely friends, and only left to come home to Cornwall. So who knows what may be out there!

  10. I will be thinking of you on Monday. It sounds the sort of place you need to be out of, very toxic. I had a similar experience and the person they got to do my job was no good by which point I had worked in another department to avoid conflict, they left i went back to the role, only to find out they were going to do it all again. A company with no concept of personnel skills!

    Enjoy your comfort reading, Briar, your knitting, your mum, your other half, and the rest. Do keep us all up to date as often as you want or can. Writing things down can be a cathartic experience and very useful.

  11. What an awful, awful way to treat you – you deserve better than them and you are obviously too good for them. Take comfort in the fact that they are wrong and it is their loss that they will lose you. The important things in your life are ok – your mother is happy, Briar is well and you can spend the festive season with your loved one. Keep strong on Monday – there will be lots of positive thoughts with you.

  12. Hugs to you, Jane. This episode is most definitely a life experience you could do without and I am so sorry you have been disrespected in this way. It looks as though you have quite a cheering section here rooting for you though. You are lovely – that Briar on the other hand is a little monkey! Poor little mite.

  13. What a nightmare!! It sounds like these are horrible people — maybe your predecessor went through something similar if s/he left everything in such a mess!! You deserve better. I’m so sorry to hear about what your going through. We’re all pulling for you here!

  14. My fingers are crossed for you. It must be very stressful. Take care of your and yours, and know that we are all on your side.

  15. I’m sorry about your mom, your job and that you cannot still marry when you sound like you really want to. I hope everything gets better in 2013 and I hope you leave those employers of you with a bigger, nastier mess than they expect. I’m not being mean, they just deserve it.

  16. I can’t add anything constructive to what others have said, Jane, but best of luck with the job search. You are well out of that place, by all accounts (no pun intended!) Onward and Upward, with Briar at your side and your finance, you will survive!

  17. I have been made redundant 3 times, but on each occasion I was one of several people to go so it always felt less personal in my case. It does sound as if you have been treated very unfairly. I hope your next job is a better one. On the brighter side, I found that when I was out of work I managed to get through some big books that I had always meant to tackle.

  18. You deserve to be appreciated and to work with people with similar values, this doesn’t sound like a good environment, something more suitable will manifest, just try to be positive. Good luck, you are already so appreciated here.

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