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For a long time (I don't remember when it started), I have been consistently working from home at least one day a week. I work as a software developer and being physically off-site has never been a problem, in terms of productivity and my ability to work. My reasons for working from home were largely for my own convenience. If there was ever a need for me to be on-site, I made the effort to abide (providing I hadn't already arranged something that I couldn't move, like an appointment, etc.)

Recently, our team has collapsed a bit, including a change of team leader. Said new boss is not as accepting of working from home as the previous and has, for want of a better word, viewed me with suspicion ever since he took over. He even told me once that such arrangements require trust to be established over years and, while I understand that, I have no precedent of abusing my "privilege" over the years I already had it. Indeed, while he's been my boss, he's reluctantly condescended to allowing me two days a week due to an actual personal need (rather than just convenience), for a fixed term. In this time, I have actively delivered everything that's been asked of me -- going above and beyond -- and have done my best to fit things around work.

In the meantime, the nature of my personal problem, which predicated my working from home under my new boss, has changed but still exists. Indeed, arguably, the stressfulness of fitting everything in has exacerbated the situation. However, a couple of weeks ago, I was told -- again with HR in tow -- that I would not be allowed any time off in August and that, "We'd see how it goes, thereafter." I wasn't given the opportunity to negotiate.

In part, this is understandable: In August there will be two new starters and I will be the most appropriate member of the team to get them started, as we share roles. (This bad bit of planning had nothing to do with me.) However, cutting me off completely -- even from annual leave was implied; which I'd fall back on, at my expense, if necessary -- seems a bit much. Having HR involved seems like a power play, to me, and frankly it's stressing me out even more.

In fact, I was admitted to hospital over the weekend with chest pains. Nothing was found -- I'm relatively young and healthy -- but I have a condition that warranted it being checked out. I assume, therefore, it was an anxiety attack (I've never had one before). Assumptions notwithstanding, I'm showing increasing signs of serious depression -- which I intend to get checked out in the next few days -- because of all this (along with my own problems) and the general atmosphere at my workplace (said collapse wasn't without reason).

As a compromise, I feel I need at least one day a week working from home in August, but I don't know how to negotiate this or even who to approach. I don't believe my boss will be that forthcoming; I'm not convinced he will take my condition in good faith (because of the aforementioned trust issues). As for HR, I feel like they're on "his side"; it's their job to protect the business. Even the thought of "just asking" or "telling them how it is" is making me anxious, which is why I'm writing here. What do I do?

  • 1
    How common is working from home in the software industry in the UK? Is this something most software jobs offer? – dbeer Jul 29 at 16:25
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    @JoeStrazzere "he's reluctantly condescended to allowing me two days a week"... "I would not be allowed any time off in August". 1 day a week is a compromise between the two days a week his new boss was allowing him, and zero days a week that is the demand for August. – DaveG Jul 29 at 17:17
  • Did you have any sort of documented agreement to work from home? Or was it just an unwritten understanding between you and your boss. If there is documentation of it, why isn't it being honored now? – GreenMatt Jul 29 at 19:15
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    please consider compressing your question, at least 2X. It is rather hard to read right now – Oct18 is day of silence on SE Jul 29 at 19:32
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The work from home agreement was made as a result of a medical condition? By getting rid of it, your employer risks breaching the Equality Act 2010. To quote the [UK Government’s official website] [1]:

Reasonable adjustments in the workplace

An employer has to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to avoid you being put at a disadvantage compared to non-disabled people in the workplace. For example, adjusting your working hours or providing you with a special piece of equipment to help you do the job.

I’d recommend talking to your boss about making an accomodation with you; he might dislike you working from home, but I’m sure he’d like you having to start taking sick leave even less, since when you’re working from home, you are at least getting some things done, while you’d likely get nothing done while on sick leave. I would do this over email, so that his response is recorded in writing.

Then, if he refuses to do so, I would take it to HR and frame it as “my boss is putting the company at liability through his actions; what can we do to resolve this”.

[1] (https://www.gov.uk/rights-disabled-person/employment)

3

When management changes, it is not unusual for the new boss to require the physical presence of all team members so they can start figuring out what they have from a resource perspective: talent wise, attitude, productivity, etc.

Your first course of action, and most important one, is to work with your doctor and get to the bottom of your medical issues. Nothing is more important than your health.

Second, forget about WFH for now. Focus instead on being as productive and trustworthy to your boss as possible. Ask your new boss "How can I make your life easier?" If you get recommendations, try to accommodate. If you don't, be persistent and keep asking (once every two weeks or so).

At some point ( 6 months maybe ) you should have been able to demonstrate your value and trustworthiness. At this point you can make the case again for WFH. If they are reasonable, they may see your value and allow it (you earned the privileges).

All that said, if WFH is that important, you may have to seek employment elsewhere if your unable to persuade your new manager. That decision will be up to you, there is no magic formula to determine that.

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As for HR, I feel like they're on "his side"

Human Resources exists to protect the company. They are never on your side unless a dispute arises between you and a third party. Even then it's still aimed at saving the company and not individual employees--we're saved as collateral un-damage.

Don't get me wrong--there are plenty of wonderful bosses with big hearts--but the existence of an HR department means someone with authority will view details in favor of corporate viability over the little people.

That (coupled with the fact that a boss was hired with authority over you) means this very plausibly could not go your way. An exception of course being if your medical condition turns out to give you bargaining power from a discrimination perspective.

I don't have any good ideas for you--other than the above. Mister Positive covered anything else I might have offered. He's right about getting to the doctor asap.

Hope it works out for you--both your health and your job--please let us know.

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They are many jobs out there that will allow you to work from home . The minimum is 1 day a week . Look for another one mate.
This is obviously too much stress in you right now and your health comes first. Take some time off if you need to also.
It's you then your company.
Remember you work to live not live to work there is a big difference.

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