Asthma UK community forum

Disability Act and work


I went to Occ Health yesterday due to my extremely high sickness rate being frequently hospitalised due to my asthma. I have always had a hard time from my manager about my sickness and have already had 2 disciplinary meetings because of it. I have been told by occ health that I am covered under the disability act - can anybody tell me what that actually means?



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The Disability Discrimination Act is around to stop us disabled people from being discriminated against. It covers education, employment, housing, goods and services but transport isn't covered for a very long time so although the train station/bus station is accessible you might not be able to get on the bus!

In relation to employment it means that your employers have to make reasonable adjustments for you in relation to your disability. I'm sure there is someone on here Liz? who has managed to sort out her sickness related to her disability from her general sickness so that her employers only count her general sickness and not her disability related sickness. (someone feel free to correct me there) It also means that you may be entitled to work from home if it is possible to do that as part of your job. Some people need to not travel in rush hour so they start earlier/later and finish earlier/later to avoid it. It could also mean sitting you away from something that is one of your triggers. I have a colleague who is asthmatic and allergic to dog hair and my employers have put a baby gate between our office doors so my guide dog can't go in her office and they are also looking into getting a powerful hoover.

Hope this has given you some answers. If you look at the Disability Rights Commission website it has some useful information. I think the website is still up although the commission has closed down to join the Commision for Equality and Human Rights.



Was the severity of your asthma triggered by the work envirinment? If it was then work have to do everything in their power to make the environmant safe for you. If that isn't possible then they have to try to find a safer environment within the same company. Unless they have exhausted all possibilities they can't make you leave unless your GP/con says you aren't fit enough to do your job. Sick-leave shouldn't a disciplinary action unless someone takes a lot of odd days off without any real evidence of being ill. Sick-leave should looked at as the number of episodes rather than the number of actual days. Work threatening disciplinary action is more likely to lead to you taking more time off through stress-induced asthma. Try writing a retrospective and current diary of all your sickness, the reason and the cause. Also record anything you boss/manager/colleagues are saying and the effect it has on you. Record any meeting that you have to have between yo and the managers. For future meetings ask if you can take a colleague ort union rep in with you for support. Insist on all the meetings being minuted. This was all the advice that my union rep gave me when I was having problems re work and my asthma last year. They are resolved now but i still keep a diary just in case they rear up again.

Ange xx


Hello, Michael (Liz's other half) here

It is worth looking on the drc website for information.

Within this section the following is particularly relevant:

""Question How do we record sickness absence related to a disability?

Answer It is important that all employee sickness absence records differentiate between disability and non-disability-related absences. Whilst the Act does not require any employer to retain a disabled person indefinitely if they are constantly absent, there will be occasions where it might be considered reasonable to discount absences related to the disability.

For example, a policy that states that employees will only receive a bonus if they are not absent for more than a set number of days is likely to be discriminatory against a disabled employee who needs regular but planned time off for treatment. By discounting the absences related to the disability, such discrimination could be avoided. This can only be done if accurate records are maintained.

In particular, it may be necessary to consider discounting all or some disability-related absences for the following:

disciplinary procedures

performance appraisals, especially when linked to bonuses, ongoing professional development and pay rises

references – a high level of sickness absence in the past may not be any indicator of future attendance

selection criteria for promotion

selection criteria for redundancy.

The employee may be reluctant to disclose the real reason for a period of absence that was disability-related. However, asking on each occasion why an employee was off sick gives the employee an opportunity to disclose any disability and discuss any adjustments that might be needed. It is important to be aware that many employees will not use the word ‘disabled’ or consider themselves to have a disability. However, the person may still require a reasonable adjustment and meet the definition of disability contained in the Act. If it later becomes apparent that previous absences were actually disability-related, existing records will need to be amended to reflect this.""

In line with the above, allowances for time off due to disabilities can (and should) be made within the company's absence management procedures.

This is the argument we have successfully used with Liz's employer. Incidentally, over the last year asthma has not been the major issue but Liz has been having problems with her epilepsy (4 999 calls within the last 3 months). She has also had less time off work than most of her colleagues.

Hope this is of some help


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