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Old 29.03.2021, 12:00
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Manager on long-term stress leave, what to expect?

Hi all, I am a long-term lurker but I have specifically signed up to the forum to ask this question. FYI I have changed some details to ensure anonymity.

I work for a major pharma corporation in a big Swiss city. My manager, who is the head of the team (10+ people), has been signed off from work back in late 2020 for burnout/ stress. I have since then been running the team ad interim. I now report to my manager's manager. I have received enthusiastic feedback from my new manager about my work and the way I have been running the team.

My old manager's leave was initially meant to last 2 months, but it keeps being extended with doctor notes. The latest update is that my old manager might come back in early June, but no certainty.

I wanted to ask if any of you has experience of what might happen in a similar scenario in Switzerland? Have you seen a situation like this playing out in corporate Switzerland, and if so what was the outcome? Is it likely that old manager will come back to the previous role they had, or a different role? or not coming back at all? I don't know what to expect and the uncertainty is starting to weigh on me.

Thank you for any perspective on this, I am very grateful to anyone who has any experience to share.
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Old 29.03.2021, 12:36
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Re: Manager on long-term stress leave, what to expect?

Difficult to comment without knowing the cause(s) of the stress, but I know of situations ( in big Pharma central Basel) where it's the nature of the job, the working environment or other people around that's identified as a key trigger, and that the individual may be deemed fit to work but not to return to the same toxic environment. Makes it very difficult to deal with - sideways or slightly downward moves, temporary or permanent, may be proposed, with the input of Medical a key part of the process,

But if they don't feel that a return would be damaging, or if other changes can be made to alleviate things, then yes, there's no reason that the individual shouldn't return to their previous role and take over from you.
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Old 29.03.2021, 12:38
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Re: Manager on long-term stress leave, what to expect?

I think you need to talk to your Boss' Boss. Ask him or her the same questions.
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Old 29.03.2021, 12:43
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Re: Manager on long-term stress leave, what to expect?

I suspect if you let your boss have the feedback that you are doing very well so gunning for his job. The additional stress will make his return impossible & you will get a pay rise,
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Old 29.03.2021, 12:46
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Hi both, thanks a lot for your replies. To provide more context:

1) the reason for the burnout is the role's responsibilities, workload, and overall pressure. Old manager used to work crazy hours to keep up with everything. I have a very different personality/ work style from old manager and the way I handle the role is different, hence I haven't been experiencing the same issues so far.

2) I have spoken to new manager, who said that once old manager returns changes will have to be made to old manager's role to ensure burnout doesn't happen again. New manager says they want me to continue running the team long-term, but no mention of formal change of role so far.

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I suspect if you let your boss have the feedback that you are doing very well so gunning for his job. The additional stress will make his return impossible & you will get a pay rise,
To be honest I feel sorry for old manager who is a nice person and is undoubtedly seriously struggling. However, I would lie if I said that this isn't a great opportunity for me to step up and progress in my career. I suppose I am concerned that old manager will be back, will remain in their position formally and I will end up doing their job while getting none of the compensation and title advancement that that should bring.

Last edited by roegner; 29.03.2021 at 12:55. Reason: Merging consecutive posts
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Old 29.03.2021, 12:55
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Re: Manager on long-term stress leave, what to expect?

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To be honest I feel sorry for old manager who is a nice person and is undoubtedly seriously struggling. However, I would lie if I said that this isn't a great opportunity for me to step up and progress in my career. I suppose I am concerned that old manager will be back, will remain in their position formally and I will end up doing their job while getting none of the compensation and title advancement that that should bring.
He is clearly are not up to the job, for whatever reason, it's not your fault.
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Old 29.03.2021, 12:55
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Re: Manager on long-term stress leave, what to expect?

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Hi all, I am a long-term lurker but I have specifically signed up to the forum to ask this question. FYI I have changed some details to ensure anonymity.

I work for a major pharma corporation in a big Swiss city. My manager, who is the head of the team (10+ people), has been signed off from work back in late 2020 for burnout/ stress. I have since then been running the team ad interim. I now report to my manager's manager. I have received enthusiastic feedback from my new manager about my work and the way I have been running the team.

My old manager's leave was initially meant to last 2 months, but it keeps being extended with doctor notes. The latest update is that my old manager might come back in early June, but no certainty. ithrate Switzerland, and if so what was the outcome? Is it likely that old manager will come back to the previous role they had, or a different role? or not coming back at all? I don't know what to expect and the uncertainty is starting to weigh on me.

Thank you for any perspective on this, I am very grateful to anyone who has any experience to share.
Your guess is as good as ours. (I'll call the manager he from now on, don't hang me for it).

Let's say your company has no insurance for this and the manager worked there for more than 6 years, they can not sack him within the first 180 days. BUT: It is very unlikely, a major pharma corporation is not insured.
If they want to, they can definitely let him go the day he returns to work 100%. Or just have him back in the original role. Most people start part-time after a burn out and build up over the months.
If the manager is smart, he will not resign before they are healthy again.

Illness always bears uncertainty. What exactly weighs on you? The work-load is too big for you too? You can't wait to get the job? (Experience shows that the ones being used during such times usually don't get the job after, btw.).

Are you being paid for the extra responsibility?

I agree with the other post further up: Bring it up with your boss-boss.
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Old 29.03.2021, 13:02
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Re: Manager on long-term stress leave, what to expect?

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Illness always bears uncertainty. What exactly weighs on you? The work-load is too big for you too? You can't wait to get the job? (Experience shows that the ones being used during such times usually don't get the job after, btw.).

Are you being paid for the extra responsibility?

I agree with the other post further up: Bring it up with your boss-boss.
I would just like more clarity about my role moving forward, as it is difficult to lead the team and shape the team's strategy without knowing whether I will keep this role long-term or not. As I mentioned, new manager says they want me to continue running things long-term, but that doesn't necessarily mean giving me old manager's official role, title and so on.

I have received a consistent salary raise to thank me for the additional responsibilities, but if I got the role formally there would be a proper salary rediscussion as the role is in a different salary band from where I formally still stand at the moment.
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Old 29.03.2021, 13:08
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Re: Manager on long-term stress leave, what to expect?

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I would just like more clarity about my role moving forward, as it is difficult to lead the team and shape the team's strategy without knowing whether I will keep this role long-term or not. As I mentioned, new manager says they want me to continue running things long-term, but that doesn't necessarily mean giving me old manager's official role, title and so on.

I have received a consistent salary raise to thank me for the additional responsibilities, but if I got the role formally there would be a proper salary rediscussion as the role is in a different salary band from where I formally still stand at the moment.
Sounds like they are really fair (not always the case).

Guess they are "hanging in the air" just as much as you are.
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Old 29.03.2021, 13:15
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Re: Manager on long-term stress leave, what to expect?

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Sounds like they are really fair (not always the case).

Guess they are "hanging in the air" just as much as you are.

I agree, it sounds as though both the OP and their employer are acting fairly and also respecting the person who is on leave. As someone who has twice required long-term leave from work lasting several months, I know that feeling uncertain about being able to return to your former role is a HUGE stressor, and I really sympathize with the person who is suffering from burnout. I am now absolutely fine, but I am sure I would not have been able to navigate the slow return to work with all its ups and downs if it weren't for the support of my boss and colleagues who were able to craft interim solutions for when I was absent, and who were incredibly patient with me as I slowly returned to my former role.


To the OP, kudos for doing such a great job. I agree with others, I think a chat with the boss' boss is definitely the thing to do right now. Especially as its a large organization you might be in line for a promotion/change of responsibilities that wouldn't directly conflict with your current boss who you are standing in for.
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Old 29.03.2021, 13:16
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Re: Manager on long-term stress leave, what to expect?

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As I mentioned, new manager says they want me to continue running things long-term, but that doesn't necessarily mean giving me old manager's official role, title and so on.
Just to clarify, new manager didn't say "that doesn't necessarily mean giving you old manager's official role, title and so on", that was my own consideration. They just said "I want you to continue leading the team long-term", but I think that might also mean just doing the job without getting the formal role on paper.
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Old 29.03.2021, 13:21
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Re: Manager on long-term stress leave, what to expect?

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I would just like more clarity about my role moving forward, as it is difficult to lead the team and shape the team's strategy without knowing whether I will keep this role long-term or not. As I mentioned, new manager says they want me to continue running things long-term, but that doesn't necessarily mean giving me old manager's official role, title and so on.

I have received a consistent salary raise to thank me for the additional responsibilities, but if I got the role formally there would be a proper salary rediscussion as the role is in a different salary band from where I formally still stand at the moment.
You have to be patient. There's a certain amount of molly-coddling that needs to be done before anything changes formally. If someone is off sick, it's not really the done thing to formally give their job to someone else while they're still recovering. In time you'll probably find that the worker moves to a 'great new opportunity'.

The question needs to be asked when does stress/burnout simply mean the person isn't right for the job?

This kind of thing happens quite a lot here. I had never seen it before moving to Basel. I suppose in other cases people have removed themselves from the environment and got a different/more suitable job. Here it's expected that the system/company will take care of it and with massive companies such as N......... there's usually space to move people around, out of one toxic environment and sometimes into another.
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Old 29.03.2021, 14:02
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Re: Manager on long-term stress leave, what to expect?

I'd say bear in mind a couple of things:

- in many companies, particularly those with some sort of rank and job title system, you get the formal promotion based on the role you're already doing - they don't promote you and then give you more responsibility

- promotion often has to be pushed by yourself, and being indispensable is the first step in this so you can push fairly hard without worrying

Since you fulfil both of those points I'd say you're in a good position

Then the question is when the promotions happen - probably once per year, with some sort of lead time and long winded process, which you need to discuss with your boss' boss so you don't miss any deadline.
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Old 29.03.2021, 14:11
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Re: Manager on long-term stress leave, what to expect?

You're probably in a good position to apply for management positions elsewhere in the company.
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Old 29.03.2021, 14:24
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Re: Manager on long-term stress leave, what to expect?

PintePeps
Since it is a big corp, it is more then reasonable to expect a transitional promotion for you and an alternate position for the manager. Corporations have both resources and motives to keep experienced and to promote gifted employees. But do not push it, that'll show your awareness about other's feelings and an ability to be a good team player (or call it an emotional intelligence).

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...it's not your fault.
Unless it is, but that is a whole different story, which I'm not implying to be anyhow relevant to the OP.

Subordinates sometimes make their manager's duties much harder to fulfill on both practical and emotional levels, and not always unintentionally. Been there looong time ago, when practicing in a Big Four company, where some people in our team behind the curtains were complete asses to both our team leader and various project managers. I'm talking real asses, including a reporting sabotage and a regular pressure on painful spots in the relations with their life partners.
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Old 29.03.2021, 14:29
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Re: Manager on long-term stress leave, what to expect?

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PintePeps

Unless it is, but that is a whole different story, which I'm not implying to be anyhow relevant to the OP.

Subordinates sometimes make their manager's duties much harder to fulfill on both practical and emotional levels, and not always unintentionally. Been there looong time ago, when practicing in a Big Four company, where some people in our team behind the curtains were complete asses to both our team leader and various project managers. I'm talking real asses, including a reporting sabotage and a regular pressure on painful spots in the relations with their life partners.
I can 100% guarantee that this wasn't the case here. In fact, over time I took on more and more responsibilities from my old manager (behind the scenes) to support them and help them out. By the time they went on medical leave, I was already doing a huge chunk of their job, just no one knew. They mentioned several times how grateful they were of my support, so I am positive that I didn't contribute to the burnout.
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Old 29.03.2021, 14:44
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Re: Manager on long-term stress leave, what to expect?

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Unless it is, but that is a whole different story, which I'm not implying to be anyhow relevant to the OP.

Subordinates sometimes make their manager's duties much harder to fulfill on both practical and emotional levels, and not always unintentionally. Been there looong time ago, when practicing in a Big Four company, where some people in our team behind the curtains were complete asses to both our team leader and various project managers. I'm talking real asses, including a reporting sabotage and a regular pressure on painful spots in the relations with their life partners.
Then the manager is not unto the job
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Old 29.03.2021, 14:54
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Re: Manager on long-term stress leave, what to expect?

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Hi both, thanks a lot for your replies. To provide more context:

1) the reason for the burnout is the role's responsibilities, workload, and overall pressure. Old manager used to work crazy hours to keep up with everything. I have a very different personality/ work style from old manager and the way I handle the role is different, hence I haven't been experiencing the same issues so far.

2) I have spoken to new manager, who said that once old manager returns changes will have to be made to old manager's role to ensure burnout doesn't happen again. New manager says they want me to continue running the team long-term, but no mention of formal change of role so far.

To be honest I feel sorry for old manager who is a nice person and is undoubtedly seriously struggling. However, I would lie if I said that this isn't a great opportunity for me to step up and progress in my career. I suppose I am concerned that old manager will be back, will remain in their position formally and I will end up doing their job while getting none of the compensation and title advancement that that should bring.
Your manager still has a job, so until he comes back you just have to wait it out and sees what happens with him. You can't be "compensated for doing his job" because you are covering for him on an interim basis, you do not formally have his role and title.

What you have proven is that you are up to doing his role better than he could, so you need to have patience and confidence that this will be recognised and an opportunity will come up either by your manager being fired/resigning/transferred or by you being given a chance in another area.
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Old 29.03.2021, 15:10
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Re: Manager on long-term stress leave, what to expect?

I had several friend in position of Manager with burnout . All of them retruned but very few wanted to keep the job they had as main cause of the burnout was job they done and going back to it ment going back to where problems start.

How it did play out - upon return they are offered new job - this is to prevent further burnout and help person to continue working.

During the time given person is absent for sick leave - you can't appoint another person on this position as that would mean effectively firing person on sick leave - which is not legal.

Once person returns - get's new job - and if accepting (so job but not environment was an issue) - all move on.

Often enough most Swiss choose to move on to new places - making deal with HR to get some package and look for new life.
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Old 29.03.2021, 15:21
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Re: Manager on long-term stress leave, what to expect?

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During the time given person is absent for sick leave - you can't appoint another person on this position as that would mean effectively firing person on sick leave - which is not legal.
You are only protected during a period of time in CH relative to your seniority. But you can be fired when on sick leave. Luckily many employers have better sense than to do that but it's not illegal.

https://www.ch.ch/fr/incapacite-trav...20pendant%20la


Licenciement pendant l’arrêt maladie
Votre employeur n’a pas le droit de résilier votre contrat pendant une incapacité de travail pour cause de maladie durant 30 jours au cours de la première année de service, durant 90 jours de la deuxième à la cinquième année de service et durant 180 jours à partir de la sixième année de service ainsi que pendant la grossesse et au cours des seize semaines qui suivent l’accouchement.

Si vous tombez malade pendant la période d’essai, vous ne bénéficiez d’aucune protection contre les congés.

English:
Termination during sick leave
Your employer is not entitled to terminate your contract while you are unable to work due to illness for 30 days during the first year of employment, for 90 days from the second to the fifth year of employment and for 180 days from the sixth year of employment, as well as during pregnancy and during the sixteen weeks following childbirth.

If you become ill during the probationary period, you will not have any leave protection.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
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