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Asthma as a disability



My daughter is 22yrs old and has had a diagnosis of severe life threatening asthma for over 15yrs allergy triggered.

She has been on olimuzab (excuse the spelling) for 6yrs and has been stable, this has involved fortnightly injections at the hospital. She’s just had a trial off the medication and quickly became symptomatic again, which has resulted in going back on the medication.

My question is whilst the regular hospital attendance has been manageable now she works it’s becoming more difficult. She is now looking for a new job and needs to disclose her condition and that she needs fridays off every 2 weeks for the hospital appointments. Obviously employers aren’t sympathetic she isn’t registered as disabled and from what I’ve read wouldn’t be eligible but is discriminated against for her condition. Surely it’s about time people in her position should be able to register with a disability even if they don’t wish to claim a disability benefit ie financial contribution.

Thoughts appreciated

8 Replies

Sorry to hear her employers aren’t sympathetic, something quite a few of us have unfortunately experienced.

I was once told by an occupational health nurse to put asthma down as a disability on job application forms as the Equality Act classes anything that affects your day to day living as a disability, which asthma can do. Her employers should let her have time off for a hospital appointment, mine so and I just make up the extra hours, they’ve been brilliant with my health to be fair.

Might be worth looking on the Asthma UK website for advice as I know they have a section about managing asthma at work.

Let us know how your daughter gets on.

Yes as RD23 says you don't need to be registered disabled in everyday life or be receiving anything to qualify under the Equality Act as disabled at work. I always make sure employers know as soon as I start the job as then they are legally required to make reasonable adjustments. It also means they can't start disciplinary procedures for sickness that is related to the disability.

She doesn't need to disclose until she has the job though. There's no requirement for the employers to know about disabilities beforehand unless it would affect suitability massively (eg no one is going to hire a blind person to drive a delivery vehicle) or if you need adaptations to attend interview eg in a wheelchair and would need ground floor. Otherwise she just needs to make sure HR and line manager know when she starts.

My employers have been pretty good I have to say and no problem with appointments; mostly also good with time off for sickness including hospital admissions. In my current place (third since getting worse asthma) they also helped me get the building management company to replace a air freshener burst dispenser in the toilets that was causing me . trouble with a gel one.

Hope this helps - agree look on the AUK website for more information. There are employers out there who are OK with it!

in reply to Lysistrata

She’s a high school teacher currently and it has been an issue already as terms of employment have been availablity to work certain hours.

The hospital she is in the care of have been fantastic and wait for her to get there on the days that she attends even though it can be way after the end of the clinic.

Unfortunately she is now moving to a different county and whilst for now she will stay under the care of the same hospital until she can be transferred somewhere nearer home it’s a 300 mile round trip which may reduce to 100-150 miles depending on which hospital will offer the respiratory service she needs.

I really do feel that asthma suffers are penalised and don’t get the help and support needed x

in reply to Nickytee

Oh that's tricky - no experience of schools sorry, I am lucky to be in a job where it is.easier for thek to be flexible, but can see how it can be difficult. They still have obligations though as an employer. Maybe some teachers on here will be able to share experiences? Am sure I have seen there are some with severe asthma who have posted.

I believe in some places there is an option to get the Xolair injections given more locally once you are on them and just go to the specialist clinic for reviews. Someone on here said they were doing that - could be worth your daughter asking if it is an option maybe to make things easier?

Hi i have severe brittle asthma. I work part time in nhs. Your daughter should be covered by the disability discrimination act for work. She should have time off for appointments and reasonable adjustments at work. Asthma is a disability. I know lots of people are not sympathetic towards us asthmatics but it is a chronic condition that can be fatal. You can look disability discrimination at work up on the internet.

Hello I am an asthmatic . I understand and I am really sorry to hear what our daughter is going through.

And yes I have been told on one occassion when I had an attack at work as I am in frontline customer care that I should go home as my colleagues were being effected because I had an attack and they were not supported enough as we are very busy.

And here I was suffering and totally breathless and had chest pains because I was actually allergic to my inhaler and had severe chest pains besides the breathlessness.

My manager was not sympathetic towards me at all. I told her with my severe chest pains and breathlessness I could barely breathe how was I to be able to go home?

Some management dont realise that asthma can be fatal. They are only interested what the employee can contribute and totally blind to the medical needs of the employee. They dont see Asthma as a disability. Does anybody have any suggestions?

Severe asthma should definitely be regarded as a disability. Good luck.


I've never heard someone describes someone else's condition to be so like my own. I also have severe allergic asthma. Had it since I was 2. Now 21. I've been on omalizumab for 3 years now. Came off it last November and it nearly killed me so went back onto it.

I've been working since I was 18 but always disclosed my illness at interview and it was never a problem with my employers. I'm working as an outdoor instructor but go to the hospital every fortnight on a Monday morning. Used to go on Thursdays to suit college and work comittments but changed to a monday when I moved jobs as it suited the company more.

As long as you disclose it from the start they can't discriminate or stop you from going for that reason. I can't see it being a problem at all. I'd mention it last though, do the interview, make a good impression and when they ask if you have any questions explain it and what the treatment is as many do not know nor understand that asthma is sometimes more than 'just asthma'.

Would she be able to go other days for treatment or only fridays? If so it would help for her to say I currently go on fridays but could work something around if I got the job. At the end of the day health comes above work.

If she gets a job congratulations for her!!

Wish you all the best. Was nice to find someone battling the same as me 😊

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