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How much do your employers understand your illness?

I work as a Duty Manager for a bookmakers (betting shop) and in the 18 months I have worked for them I have had 4 serious asthma attacks and had to be hospitalised. This meant anything from 2-5 days off work. When I applied for the position I was straight with them stating on my application form that I was asthmatic and also suffered from a depressive illness. Obviously they were suitably impressed with me and took me on.

So far they have been very supportive and understanding. Luckily for me my Area Manager has a close friend who is asthmatic and therefore sympathizes with me.

I was wondering if anyone has any stories to tell regarding their employer and their experinces with asthma and how it affects their work.


3 Replies

Mine have been a nightmare, but have had union, occupational health and human resources involved now starting to get a bit more understanding from them.


I lost my job!

When I started my last job, my asthma was well controlled, within 6 weeks it started to go out of control - which I put down to picking up 'snotty' viruses - leading to chest infections/asthma attacks. I'd gone from working in a lovely big modern well-air conditioned room to a small warm room - crammed full or computer equipment + laser printer with no ventilation and regularly sitting in close confine to bad cold/flu symptoms. (picture that flu jab bus advert a couple of years ago!)

Over the next few years I got worse and worse and then started to become allergic to things that hadn't bothered me before. I felt my immune system was completely hammered. I became 'brittle' and started having nasty quick-onset attacks, particularly when exposed to these viruses. Despite meetings and agreements made with managers/union rep/equalities manager/occ health to try and help me avoid getting more viruses, in practice these agreements were ignored by my managers. All I wanted was to work in another room if someone was particularly symptomatic.

After a few visits to A&E and then a ride in the big yellow bus to my (I don't want to die here!) resuss unit I said I couldn't carry on working if they didn't help, assisted by my union rep I submitted a complaint. I was then subject to the most disgusting bullying tactics (wasn't surprised as I'd seen others go through similar) and made to feel like I couldn't continue to work there.

I got JSA as my local jobcentres (who'd also tried to assist me) felt I been constructively dismissed. Although not much money it bought our shopping + a few extra bits. Although I couldn't find permanent employment I started freelancing.

And that's when my story turns happy - as I started working for some very big companies for a very nice hourly rate. My asthma is loads better, I rarely have colds/flu, my knowledge of my job has improved, the people I work with are great and a couple of the firms I really enjoy working for have asked if I'd be interested in something permanent should a vacancy come up!

It's also made me realise the clowns I worked with - one of whom remarked 'Asthma is not life threatening' are a minority. It's also made me realise that in other work places people put tissues in bins, wash their hands/use hand gel, leave the room if they start with a bad sneezing/coughing fit.

It looks like your colleagues take asthma seriously and will be willing to help. Well done for working despite your health probs, it sounds like you're doing well and appreciated!

: )


My employer shows great concern as to how my asthma will affect their business. Think that just about sums it up.


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