Life and work stress

I dont know if im asking for answers or just venting.

March '22 Mrs P was diagnosed with bowel cancer, stage 4. Things got bad fairly quickly when the tumour perforated her bowel. She also reacted to chemo and became quite seriously unwell. Bad enough for the Drs to tell me to prepare for the worse.
December she had surgery to remove the tumour after chemohad shrunk it. All seemed very positive. Then a scan in February showed it was back and had spread to lungs and lymph system. Also the cancer has a BRAF mutation, this went direct to a terminal prognosis.
She is now receiving targetted therapy which has so far halted the spread. Unfortunately the side effects are debilitating, osteoporosis of her spine has caused 7 vertebrae to crumble and require surgey. She suffers high levels of pain in her joints, to the point she cant open a door or take a lid off a bottle.

Throughout this i have been working from home which has meant i can provide support and care, its also been an emotional comfort blanket for me to be able to spend time with her. We dont know how much of that time we have.

3 weeks ago my employer told the company we must return to the office a minimum of 3 days per week but there would be exceptions.
Today i have been told my circumstances do not amount to an exception and i should arrange alternative care for Mrs P. Quite what would make an exception is beyond me.
My anxiety and stress levels have rocketed in the last few weeks. Sleep is difficult and i have very little motivation. I really do not know what to do.
I am looking for remote work, tho i had really thought id be with this company a lot longer, its a good package and up to now had been great work.

I really just want to be with Mrs P, i feel confused and very upset.

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That seems extraordinarily cunty on their part.

So sorry to hear that, my heart goes out to you.

As for advice, get your doc to sign you off sick with stress, that should cover you for a couple of months at least.


What a ghastly set of circumstances, and hard to think what more you would have to present to get the company to be more flexible.

But if his contract only stipulates Statutory Sick Pay and his employer sticks to that then the financial hit may be too big.

In an ideal world you’d just pack the job in and become a full time carer and say sod the finances.

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That’s awful - the company’s approach sounds inhuman!

I’m with @BobC if you have appropriate sickness cover (not self-employed etc) - get signed off to give yourself more time.

You may also be able to appeal the decision, enlisting any in your line management chain who are onside for support.

Edit: Citizens’ Advice may have some useful info as well

Have there been any issues with your work up until now?
Has your employer had any cause to say the quality of your work has declined whilst WFH?
If the answer is no then I’d be asking for a review of your case. It certainly does sound very callous of them to behave in this way.
I sincerely hope your employer sees sense at a time you need help and understanding the most.

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No issues at all.
Ive contacted HR, waiting for a response.


Firstly, really feel for you and what you are both having to go through.

Who told you this, what guidelines are they using to assess your circumstances and what are they using to define exceptional circumstances?

Next is there a right of appeal, and/ or could you request a meeting with HR to set out your difficult circumstances and get some clarity on the rules, what constitutes what, is there compassionate leave arrangements etc.

Based on what kind of response you get then you can judge whether getting signed off sick would be appropriate or not.


My line manager informed me, after discussing with head of dept.

No idea what guidelines are used, the whole shit show has been mishandled, line managers have been given very little info. Just get back to the office.

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I can imagine exactly how you feel Andy. You have my every sympathy.

I haven’t had first-hand experience this time around but twelve years ago, when we were all still working, my siblings and I had to share the caring for the 18 months that my mum lived with cancer. We were in touch quite a bit with Macmillan Cancer Support and there’s also Maggie’s now too. They will have had a good deal of experience of cases like yours and might be able to help.

All the very best,


It does sound like they’re being unreasonable - I.e. the bar for exceptions is so high that in practice there aren’t any.

My first instinct, as others have pointed out, is to go sick for stress reasons. It’d be hard for them to argue that they have not put you in a situation which has caused this.


I would also go with sick notes because of stress / mental health reasons. I would also be looking for another job as I wouldn’t want to work with such a bunch of uncaring CNUTS.

I have started looking for other work.


Christ Andy, that is an awful set of circumstances. I would get some advice if I were you and perhaps do as others have suggested and get yourself signed off by the Doctor.


There’s the problem. Big boss shouts, little boss says yes sir. And no one has (probably) consulted with HR.

As others have said, there should be guidelines for this. And if there isn’t then just what are the exceptions?

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We all suspect it comes from investors who are concerned about their property investments.
That would explain the total lack of reason.

And compassion

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So sorry to hear where you’re at. Life chucks shit in large dollops sometimes.

I can’t really add much more than agreeing with Sick Notes. They seem to have left you with little option and the stress is REAL !!

All the best to you and Kay.

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Sounds outrageous if you’re circumstances don’t meet their criteria

In an ideal road you’d tell them to fuck off

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