A guide I have passed on to Pret A Manger since May 2015 when I first approached HR to make suggestions after my then line manager had me on prolonged 5 months late shifts and refused to rotate my shifts like it was before I became bereaved.
I approached HR, not to raise grievances or complain but to just bring ideas and suggestions. I never imagined that approaching HR would put a target on my back.
I speak extensively about my ordeal with Pret on my blog and podcast interview.
I passed the ACAS Guide to Bereavement at the Workplace to HR and several different managers, area managers and anyone in a responsible position between 2015 and 2017. But of course apart from sweet-talk and the horrendous treatment that followed, lead from the very top, this guide was not taken into consideration. If this is now in Pret’s sight, than certainly after I left Pret.
NOTE: ACAS deleted their 24 page PDF document now from their website, but I re-uploaded.
LINK: ACAS – Managing bereavement in the workplace – a good practice guide
I will keep it short as people who are really interested in this can read the guide and download the PDF file that ACAS has posted in partnership with Cruse Bereavement Care, the largest bereavement short-term support charity in the UK that I visited early on in my bereavement as well.
I just want to point out some things concerning bullying during bereavement and how my situation became 10 times worse than I could have ever anticipated even could happen to people who go through grief and trauma.
This will always be on Pret’s resume as well as how they dealt, or rather how they did NOT deal with TWO customer deaths, and why in this profit driven Western society there is such a strong resistance and refusal to supporting people in grief and tragedy. Once tragedy hits an employee they frankly become an inconvenience as companies want “robots” that function non-stop for the millions the top is gaining.
That’s why I have come to start disliking the term “workforce” as this sounds like an army, a factory of robots having to function in a modern-day slavery setting, under the pretense of “productivity” and “buzz” and “fun”.
Excerpts from the ACAS Guide on Bullying during Bereavement
on pages 12 & 13
»Avoiding discrimination and addressing bullying
Employers should ensure their employees who are likely to be affected by the disability are able to recognise it, especially when performance or absence of a bereaved employee becomes unacceptable over the longer term for no other apparent reason.«
This versus my experience of being targeted and penalized for not smiling during customer service even when I asked, almost begged to work in the kitchen for a while when I started to tear up on the shop floor. More on the Emotional Labour in this blog entry and the “brutality” of what Pret expects, no matter what.
Only one of >>> several comments on YouTube
Bullying is defined as unwanted behaviour or conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual. If the bullying is related to a protected characteristic then it is harassment.
Managing bereavement in the workplace
Employers should be alert to inappropriate behaviour following bereavement. Absence through bereavement can place burdens on co-workers and line managers alike who may pressurise (inadvertently or otherwise) or bully a bereaved employee into returning to work or performing their duties to the same level as they did before the death. The intentions of the bully do not matter – what is important is the impact that the behaviour has on the employee who is being bullied.
Rouji works on a telephone helpline and recently lost her mother. On her return from bereavement leave she is finding it hard to cope at work: she is struggling to reach her targets for calls answered and sometimes leaves the room visibly upset. Brandon, the manager, notices that the staff are unhappy at what they see as “carrying Rouji”, an attitude reinforced by the vocal views of her supervisor who has been overheard saying “she should get a grip, when my mother died, I found work a relief, look at the problems she is causing us.”Rouji has noticed the shaking heads of colleagues and their “tuts” when she leaves the room and this is adding to her distress. Although Brandon recognises the burden on the team, the company has a policy of not tolerating bullying and harassment. Brandon tells the supervisor to stop this behaviour and let it be known that staff may face disciplinary action if this unwanted behaviour continues. At the same time he sees if a temporary worker can be deployed until Rouji is able to reach her performance targets.«
The guide goes on to cover a variety of issues regarding paid leave, long-term or reoccurring effects of grief etc. I just concentrate mainly on the subject of bullying here as this involved even Pret’s HR, Head Quarters, Clive Schlee CEO as this is systemic and no surprise anymore, why I went from management to management that had no policy in place to protect me or bereaved employees in general.
A People Business Partner (PBP) from HR in a grievance appeal’s hearing that I raised even admitted that there was another employee, an assistant manager who was bereaved and also mistreated at work, but that she was “bitter”. He foolishly compared me with her as if we were bitter because we raised grievances of wrongdoing. I emailed this PBP later that day in anger saying that this AM is not bitter, but in a lot of pain, as I related to her nightmare.
A few months after this hearing and what the PBP told me in that hearing, I learned that an AM died by suicide. I cannot proof that this is the same person, but I do not believe in coincidences anymore with Pret, especially after they involved a Development Manager from HQ who supposedly also had a brother who died in his flat, like my brother died in his flat… But I don’t believe this anymore. Weeks later after our contact I learned that she is also a Hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner, and the more hidnsight I have and keep talking about this, the more I don’t believe that she had a brother, even while I see some posts on her facebook page regarding her brother in 2016 before I knew her.
I tell my story verbally for the first time on a podcast here below in the audio player. I also collected many staff reviews from outside pages like Glassdoor, Indeed, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook etc. and combined them unto one page as Pret Staff Complaints.
I am so loud because I almost lost my life and if I alsmost ended my life, an assistant manager did, how many more are there. If Pret can hide two customer deaths under the carpet, how many work-related staff suicides or attempted suicides are there?
“Penalized for calling out for a funeral”
Former Assistant Manager, London
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I can only urge any company, large or small to please have a look at this guide from ACAS. It is only a guide to which companies can draft their own policy from this blueprint that ACAS provides in partnership with Cruse. I survived systemic workplace bullying in a company that is very efficient in marketing and PR portraying themselves to be an ethical and caring company.
I have a different story…
I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.
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