What's your problem?

I've taken unpaid leave from work for three months to look after my sick father, which leaves little time for anything else. However, my employer has called me in and asked whether I can work on some mini-projects in my 'spare time'.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

 When I explained that I don't have any, he got a bit aggressive and said I should do it if I know what's good for me. I'm confused - he agreed the unpaid leave quite happily, but has obviously had a change of heart. We're a small company and there is no-one above him I can speak to. Can you advise?

A: It can be fiendishly difficult for small companies. I bet your boss was genuinely pleased to be able to grant you unpaid leave, but now reality bites. He's got a moral commitment to welcome you back, so can't take on a permanent replacement; meanwhile work pressures mount. Do see if you can help him as much as he has tried to help you.

- Jeremy Bullmore has been creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London and a non-executive director of both the Guardian Media Group and WPP. Address your problems to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@mtmagazine.co.uk. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

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