So, obviously the gods didn't feel like I had enough on my plate with the DLA/CAB stuff and the Social Services stuff and so on, because on Friday, I lost my main job. Sort of.
To start at the beginning... when I started that job, two years ago, the company was a small one and the job mostly consisted of sitting on a perch-stool at a workbench, selecting and scanning CDs, packaging them up with the right address/postage/customs stuff on them, and putting them on a shelf depending on which part of the world they were being sent to. The CDs I needed were mostly within reach of the workbench, but four or five times a day, an order would come up containing a CD that was on a shelf on the other side of the room. Excitement! Sometimes there would be some sort of special request or larger order to sort out, but mostly, that was it, until the end of the day when my colleague would put the packages we'd done into mail sacks, weigh them, and I'd put the information into the Royal Mail website ready for the postie to come and collect it all.
However, the company has grown, and with it, so have the demands of the dispatcher job. It's steadily increased over time. Now there are CDs in stock filling floor-to-ceiling shelves in two rooms, orders often weigh in excess of two kilos, and the loft space has been adapted to hold the supplies of flatpacked cardboard boxes that we now have to keep stocked. What has not increased is my ability to walk around or lift heavy things or climb ladders. If I was interviewing for the dispatcher job today, I would be having to apologise to the interviewers for having wasted their time as several aspects of the job are now beyond my capabilities.
On Friday afternoon, about halfway through my shift, I was called out of the packing room and into the boss's office. I was then asked to look for another job as the changed dispatch role was no longer suitable for me.
I was promised a fantastic reference but told that there were no roles available within the company that might be more suitable for me, and that it wasn't fair to the other dispatchers if I was doing all the less physically demanding parts of the job. I was thanked for all my hard work.
Head spinning with shock, I offered that I could learn to do just about anything, or I could ask an Access to Work Occupational Therapist to come in and see if any further adjustments could be made... but their minds were made up. Hard work, much appreciated, excellent worker, no complaints, glowing reference, not being given notice as such, but role no longer appropriate, please seek alternative employment soonest.
As an employer of a PA, I'm quite certain that for a conversation like that an employee is supposed to be advised in writing at least 48 hours beforehand and told they're allowed a representative with them. However it will surprise no one that instead of imperiously standing up and berating them for this laxity of procedure, I whimpered that I understood and asked if I could be excused to go and sit by myself for a few minutes to get my head around things.
But there's only so long you can spend sniffling in the Ladies loo and of course I can't independently leave the building - I need to wait for my taxi to turn up. So I went and packaged CDs for another hour and a half. What else could I do?
I could get signed off sick, as it is my poor health that means I cannot manage the changed job role. However, this means I would also have to stop doing my second job as well, and would screw up my lower-than-average sick-day record which would have an impact on my future employability. Also, just the thought of trying to deal with ESA makes me feel sick.
I could find another job, suitable for my abilities, with hours that suit me, that pays more than benefits rate and is prepared to take on a disabled person. In a recession, in a town where this week the paper reported there are six Jobseekers (ie healthy people on JSA) for every vacancy listed at the Jobcentre. Hahahahaha.
I could keep working until such time as they do actually outright fire me. However it is an understatement to say that since the "discussion" I have now lost the sense of loyalty and motivation that was making me put myself in more and more pain and swallow more and more drugs to try and keep up with my job.
So I took the initiative and on Tuesday, I resigned.
Dignity and self-respect more or less intact, a certain amount of annual leave to use up during my notice period, they don't have to try and accommodate me any more, and I don't have the unpleasantness of trying to work at a place I know wants me gone.
Once I finish my notice and have my P45, then I'll also technically resign my second job and set up as a self-employed person. I'll continue doing the second job, but instead of submitting a timesheet and having my employer do the PAYE thing, I'll invoice my employer for the hours worked and pay my own tax and NI. My earnings will be very low, but Steve has agreed to support me while I look for another "main" job so that I don't half-kill myself doing Christmas temping.
If anyone who reads this does the self-employed thing and can recommend a person or organisation that can do a bit of hand-holding when I do my first tax return, that would be appreciated.