What's your problem

IF I TAKE MORE LEAVE I'LL LOSE MY JOB. I've been absent from work a lot over the past eight months, with family-related problems. At first, my employers were understanding , but now they've given me an ultimatum - no more absences for the next three months if I want to keep my job.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Losing it would only make the family problems worse, but I can't guarantee that I'll be able to come in every day for the next three months. I know my employer is in an awkward situation, but I can't see a way out of this predicament.

A: Small comfort, I'm afraid, but I feel just about as helpless as you do about this one. If I knew more about the nature of your family-related problems it might help, but I doubt it. The best I can do is suggest that you approach your problem almost as if it were somebody else's - with a consciously adopted detachment.

Identify the circumstances that force you to stay at home (by the sound of it, often unpredictably); and then make a list of friends, neighbours and relations who might be persuaded to stand in for you - if necessary, on a roster.

Then return to your employer and make it absolutely clear to him that you really do understand the inconvenience your absences cause both him and your colleagues. Tell him of the back-up arrangements you've put in place, and give him an idea of how long they'll be needed. This may buy you time; which is clearly what you most need.

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