Kylie*, HR officer, NSW

Kylie* is an HR officer working for a large retail chain. She was recruited 2 years ago from a similar organisation. While Kylie takes her work seriously, her moods are inconsistent and when she is feeling down she can be uncommunicative and aggressive. She often leaves work early and takes long periods of sick leave, without providing doctor’s certificates.

Kylie has disclosed to her supervisor that she had depression and an eating disorder, conditions which she did not mention at interview and which were not mentioned during reference checks.

She can be defensive and is often rude and aggressive. Her supervisor finds the situation very difficult. Wanting to take a proactive approach, she has engaged a rehabilitation provider to help manage Kylie’s situation.

Initially Kylie was reluctant to engage with the rehabilitation provider but eventually she agreed and has started to develop a relationship with the provider. Unfortunately, her behaviour at work continues to be inconsistent. Her work performance is adequate but she is rude to some employees (although not others) and continues to take a lot of sick days. Kylie is still reluctant to consistently engage in treatment.

Kylie’s supervisor has now decided to more strongly encourage Kylie to seek treatment. If this fails they are prepared to seek legal advice as to whether they can terminate her employment.

*not her real name

Key learning points

  • Take a proactive approach and manage problems as early as possible, including difficult behaviour. Kylie should not have been allowed to continue to take time off without doctor’s certificates.
  • If you are person managing an employee with a mental health problem, make sure you are able to access support when you need it. This may be from your organisation’s HR department, Employee Assistance Program (EAP) (if available) or from your private health practitioner.