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Working with severe asthma

Hello, just really needed a rant and some advice 😬

I currently work 40 hours a week as I am a young single parent with little financial help. However, it has really been taking its toll on me as I also work with children which is a very demanding job.

I went into work the other morning and was struggling to breathe, having what I only know from experience, to be an asthma attack. I could barely say a sentence, my breathing sounded like darth Vader and I was really struggling. I told my deputy manager that I needed to go to hospital (they have a health declaration for my SREA which states what they should do in a situation like this) and she said no. My manager had told her not to let me leave until she got there an hour later. Now, with asthma we all know how much of a difference an hour can make when someone is struggling to breathe. They were apprehensive about letting me call for an ambulance as they were understaffed but I was in absolutely no fit state to be there.

I got there at 7.15 and at 8.20 they "let" me call for help. They sent an ambulance for me, but when I told my manager what was happening she literally showed no compassion.

I called later on in the day when I was home and settled to let them know the situation and it was a very blunt response with no question about how I was or if they could do anything for me.

And now I feel like I can't go back, I feel unsafe going there knowing that if I was having another asthma attack, they would just leave me.

I want to complain about it but I have absolutely no idea where to start or what could even come from it.

Does anyone have any knowledge about this kind of thing? And whether it's worth even complaining about or whether I should just hand my notice in and be done with it?

Thank you in advance.

14 Replies
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Oh wow WTAF! 😱😤🤬

First things first I hope you’re feeling a little better now and that you’re asthma has calmed down!

Yes it’s definitely worth taking further - does your manager have a manager, or is their any board of directors you can go to (or HR etc)? They literally threatened your life and went against medical advice (from your letter/asthma plan) - that’s sue-able, if something serious had happened you/your family could have got the police involved - as it is you possibly ended up needing more meds that you would have otherwise. This is disability discrimination - not letting you access what you need (ie hospital) which again is sue-able (always worth threatening suing them if they don’t listen to you when you complain).

If you had had an (epileptic) seizure, would they make you stay, what about if you had broken a bone? If you can’t work, you can’t work and you’re especially not safe enough to be in charge of children! If you know/like some of the parents you can ‘discuss’ the situation with them so they’re aware that their kids were put in danger (emotional witnessing you struggling or collapsing/physical if you collapsed on one of them) just because your boss refused to let you go to hospital, and than they gave you no support.

If you want/need to stay working there, go OTT on your asthma awareness - if you feel like you did this day, call in sick - they can’t force you in from home! Better to be safe than sorry, and if you’re going to loss the day anyway why risk it!

You need to work out a support/cover system so if you’re ill they can organises emergency cover, or work out an emergency system if they’re that short of staff to ‘close’ where you work. I’d also ask for a new manager if possible. You need to highlight that they literally could have killed you, and that you already have medical notes instructing them what to do if you have issues... so ask why it wasn’t followed! If you can sort out/make a fuss before you leave (if you do quit) so it doesn’t happen to the next person! CAB is great for advice so worth contacting them!

Unfortunately some people are just (insert foul words here)! They’ll never understand or change until they are in the situation. Sounds like you boss is one of these; self-centred and self-important - why did she have to be in for you to leave? Just to see herself you were ill? If it’s just cause they were short staffed then she could have come in straight away!

Talk to people about it (GP, consultant, asthma nurse, asthma UK, CAB, friends, family etc etc) and see what they say - I’m sure they’ll all be appalled! Maybe they’ll have some more advice for you- I can’t believe they actually did that!

I hope you’re feeling better and that you can sort things out at work! 😘 x

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Thank you, the breathlessness has settled down but I can't speak without coughing to the point I'm sick ☹️ hopefully it all settles down soon.

Yes there's a management above my manager and then the overall company above them that overseas all the nurseries. Exactly, I was mortified by it. I probably wouldn't need to be taking as much time off as I do now to recover for a start, and the ambulance journey could've been avoided.

That's what I thought, I wonder whether they would've treat it differently if that was the situation. I haven't even been with my own child because I hate him seeing me like this (he's staying with his dad at the moment) so why on earth they thought it was acceptable to leave me in a building with them I'll never know.

I don't think I can go back now, which is disappointing because I love my job but I can't risk that happening again. I was planning to ring the director tomorrow and speak to him about it and just explain that I'll be handing my notice in because of this event. Exactly, that's the thing I don't want it happening to other people. I wrote out a health declaration for this reason. I go to hospital every 4 weeks for treatment as it is and they are aware of how severe it is. I always worried about going to work incase something like this happened and it's just made me think is it even worth doing if this could happen again.

I spoke to my nurse at the hospital straight away and she was absolutely livid. She told me to get in touch with a union rep and to take it as far as it can go. She said that when I said I needed to go to hospital that should've been the end of it, they should've done what they could to support that but they didn't.

They are short staffed but in nursery settings we have agency staff for that reason. I was in 15 minutes before my shift was due to start which would've given them the time to ring agency staff to be in shortly after so in my eyes there was no excuse other than what you said, being self centred and self important.

My sons father rang them to say my son wouldn't be attending that day and to him they asked him to keep them updated so he said no. He was furious as well as this time last year I almost died and he witnessed that, so obviously he knows the severity of it. I also have a tutor at work who I called and said that I no longer wanted to work there and explained why and she said she supports my decision 100% as it is disgraceful.

I just didn't want to kick up a fuss over nothing and was worried I was thinking too far into it, but maybe taking it that bit further is what needs to happen.

Thank you so much 😘 x

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Hand in your notice but make sure you speak to your union first! Sometimes you can get more support from them before you say you’re leaving! And definitely speak to the director - I should imagine they won’t be impressed with the situation if only because it opens them up to a court case (tho from my experience directors tend to be nice, supportive people).

I had discrimination from the opposite end at uni. I kept being suspended because I had asthma and they “didn’t want me to die on-site” 😤. I appealed the suspension, went to the CAB and the equality advisory service, then with their advice threatened to sue unless things changed - new policies are now in place (and I’m checking them even tho I’ve graduated).

Definitely take it further, especially as there were options for them to follow if short staffed they just CBA!

I hope your sons ok. He’s getting to the age where he’s going to notice things now. I coach gymnasts to 5+yo, they all know about my condition and where to get my emergency bag - ‘luckily’ it’s become ‘normal’ for them to hear that I’m in hospital (to the point they weren’t too worried when my colleague got diagnosed with cancer and was hospitalised - I always went in and out so so would she!), and they are very asthma aware! Because I don’t panic, they don’t - if my colleague does tho 😬. They’re an inquisitive bunch esp if I have a new pump/spacer... what does a pink pump mean?, why is that one green? Etc.

It’s not their place to ask your sons dad for updates - if you’re not togethe, then it’s not really his business to share details for work reasons!

Urgh, ridiculous, discriminatory people!

... and breathe 😤😅😘

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I will do! I was supposed to do it today but I am one of those people that tries to avoid stressful situations because they tend to make me worse when I get all worked up 😬 the director is lovely on the few occasions I have met him so I can imagine he won't be best pleased, he doesn't like getting involved in matters unless it's absolutely necessary.

WHAT?! How on earth were they even allowed to do that?! How disgusting. Considering they're supposed to be professionals, they don't act very professional 😒 I'm glad you did, I can't believe that was even a valid reason to suspend you!

He is, he knows when mummy's poorly and when she has a "poorly chest" as he calls it. He's very loving and caring, I'm certainly lucky. It's hard being away from him when I'm used to him being with me 5/7 days. I am going to wait until he's a bit older to have the talk about what we do if mummy's breathing is funny. He just seems so innocent and it destroys me that I'll have to ruin that by preparing him for what could happen in the worst scenario. That's so good that they know, oh no you're joking 🙈 they're so hopeful aren't they, I think it's refreshing to be around that when you just feel so.. not hopeful 😬 yes, my little boy is the same. Has to know what they're for, and he likes to count the puffs too. He has his own (he's also asthmatic) so he's very inquisitive about why I have different coloured ones and why he can't have a pink or red one too 😅

Exactly, he wouldn't tell them and they know that - I think it was like a dig to try and cover their backs from how horrendously they treat me!

Well at least I can use this rest time to apply for other jobs - silver linings and all that 😂😭😘

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Glad the director seems nice - hopefully he’ll listen and implement change! I’m all about procrastinating when I’m not 100%, especially when avoiding emotionally charged situations (I don’t want to cry or scream at them!). If you do meet with him, take someone with you for support, a friend/family member, an asthmatic, a medic or someone from CAB!

Yes - 3 times! It wasn’t a valid reason, they kept giving me the paperwork and saying that I was suspended because I have ‘a mental and/or physcial health condition which as such has affected my behaviour in an inappropriate manners - but ignore the behaviour part as that doesn’t apply to you’... so I’m suspended because I have a mental and/or physical health condition 😒😡🙄. What’s worse was that I was studying osteopathy, yet my ‘contacts’ had no medical training at all! Ended up repeating my final year twice as the first I missed 3 months (tho to be fair I had only just spiralled and the hospital didn’t know what to do with me), then because I got a mild cold so had a minor asthma attack on site (after walking there in the cold - 2 hrs in a&e then home) then they suspended me over the exam period (I was well but had asked for an extension on coursework as had 10days in hosp in 3 weeks). This is when I flipped my nut, but it still didn’t get resolved til after exams - was meant to resist in August but like you I was very ill and almost intubated (basically spent the whole month as an inpatient with a few day releases 😒).

I sure it is, and I bet you miss him like no tomorrow! It must break your heart knowing that you’ll eventually need to give him ‘the talk’!

Yes they’re very refreshing! They ask me how I am whenever they see me (once a week) - usually because they like me coaching them cause I make up the routines 😂! Oh the confusion when I went from MDIs to DPIs too.. ‘but where’s the puff?’ 😂. Helpful tho when we get asthmatic gymnasts - they know they won’t be judged. Had 1 8/9yo who had her first attack in the middle of the night (prev no asthma) - admitted for a few days then tail off ventolin when she was release (and at training). Mum and kid were worried about the situation and what the rest of the girls would say when she used it at break - nothing! They were used to me and I set mums fears at ease when I explained exactly how much I knew about asthma and what to look for 😅.

Yes every cloud! Get those job applications out! Now to try and sleep 😴🤞🏻😘

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I hope so! I just won't be around to see it - my son will still be there though as he starts school next year so I'll still have to see them I just don't want to be employed by them anymore. That's exactly me! I tend to just burst into tears no matter what I'm trying to say 😅 I will do, thank you.

I can't actually believe that!! What is wrong with people 😭 100% sure that's discrimination or was they not aware of that? That is absolutely ridiculous, you'd think they'd want to support you into finishing as soon as you can to relieve some pressure and stress off you. Some people just make me want to bang my head against a wall 🤦🏻‍♀️

I do, he's like my right arm! It does but I'm hoping by the time it comes to that it's a little more under control!

That's absolutely lovely! Hahaha bless them!! It's good stuff for them to know and learn about, all life experiences! That's great, i bet it was such a relief for them! All comes to some good use doesn't it 😂

Sleep? It's like a distant memory at the moment 😅 but I hope you get a good, uninterrupted nights sleep 🤞🏼😘

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Amberx - I have worked as a senior manager in my time & have a lot of experience in HR & Equalities Act issues. Unfortunately, I'm just heading out to work myself & won't be in until late, but I will try to reply later tonight.

For now, my best advice is don't do or say anything rash, but absolutely speak to your union rep if you have one; failing that find out who the rep in your place of work is & have a chat with them.

If you hand in your notice, your only recourse (unless you have another job lined up) would be a constructive dismissal claim. These are hard to prove, rarely succeed & could take you a couple of years to get through, so take time to assess your options.

Good luck.

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OMG What a bunch of *******s

Does your manager not understand that instructing you to wait puts your life at risk? Complain directly to the head of HR and MD of the company, and include all the information you can get from Asthma UK about the employment rights of people working with asthma. At best you will receive more help and better treatment and at the worst you will know that the company doesn't deserve to have you working for it and can look for another, better, job.

Good luck

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Hi

I had the same problem but you are covered by the Equalities Act .it states that they have to make reasonable adjustments for you it's the law. My work sent me twice to occ health

And it was they that instructed my work to get a grip as they were not dealing with it properly and were leaving themselves wide open to be suied.

So I wouldn't just let them off by handing your notice in. If you are off work with asthma you are covered its not your problem they are short staffed.

You need to make sure you get better and as far as their managers to the should know about the Equalities Act , but by the sound of them they shouldn't be in the job.

Hope you feel better soon. And remember to mention that they have broken the law in the way they treated you.

Regards

Eian

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I'm so sorry you went through this. It sounds awful.

You shouldn't have to lose a job which is working for you (manager issues aside) and which you rely in financially because your manager is acting against medical advice. They are in the wrong, not you. To not allow someone to call an ambulance is just bad beyond words.

If you can talk to your director to get assurances this won't happen again then that's great. If not, go to the Citizen's Advice Bureau. They are there to help.

I know dealing with this sort of thing is hard at the best of time, doubly so when you're recovering, Good Luck!

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Do you have an occupational health department? If it is a big company you might have - and if so, get in touch with them asap!

If not, don't hand in your notice as your employer is in the wrong. Under the equality act of 2010, employers are expected to make 'reasonable adjustments' for anyone with a disability (and asthma does count as a disability). The sticking point here is what is considered 'reasonable' but I see no reason why you should be made to suffer just because they were short-staffed on that day! Their actions could have killed you and they need to know that.

There must be children at the nursery who have asthma and it terrifies me to think that staff do not understand how serious asthma can be!

How about suggesting a training session for staff and getting an asthma nurse to come and talk to you all?

If your manager continues to make life difficult for you - to the point where you feel you need to leave - this could be seen as constructive dismissal and you would have a case to take to tribunal.

If you are not a member of a union yet - rectify that as soon as possible!

Hope you feel better soon - don't let them bully you into leaving a job you love.

Incidentally - It might be worth investigating working tax credits and reducing your hours. If your asthma is severe and affects your everyday living you could claim tax credits when working a minimum of 16 hours - look into it :)

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You've had a lot of good advice here. My ten pennorth would be that you should follow something along these lines:

1. Speak to a union rep if you can; they will very likely have knowledge of your employers & have a view whether that was typical behaviour or just a poor manager making a mistake. Before you'd get anywhere near winning any legal action, you (normally) will need to show that you have given the company the opportunity to put things right.

2. The union will guide you, but the obvious next step is to ask for a meeting with somebody senior, who has authority to take major HR decisions. Don't just go for local managers, unless it's a small set up. If you end up going for legal action, tribunals are allowed to consider the size & resources of an organisation when making decisions and awards, so if there is an HR department, you need a senior HR officer. Otherwise, the most senior manager you can get hold of.

3. Arrange a meeting and explain that the actions of this person potentially put your life at risk. Be clear on what you want them to do about it, but make your demands reasonable, e.g. (re)training the person, putting extra safeguards in place, and giving you additional options for not going into work in the first place if you are unwell. Make it work for you though, not for them. A competent HR person will spot straight away the dangers of ignoring a set of reasonable requests and won't need you to point them towards the Equalities Act. Being reasonable is likely to both allow you to keep your job and ensure there is no lasting fall-out from it.

4. If the company brush you aside, you start to move into constructive dismissal territory, but if you feel like you've reached that point, I'd strongly advise you to get proper legal advice. But taking the above steps, and recording in detail things that are said & decisions that are agreed would strengthen your hand should it come to that.

Top tip - talk to your union!

Good luck :)

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Absolutely disgusting. They put your life at risk and I would pursue this. Are you in a union. Or speak to citizens advise. But no don't let that go

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I'm not in a union but I took it higher to the business director and had a 2 hour long meeting with him about everything. He made excuses for them about staff ratio and how they couldn't have let me go because if they did they wouldn't have been able to open the nursery etc.. although he said the way they have been was inexcusable and he apologised profusely for it. I said I wasn't comfortable about returning and he said he would have a meeting with the nursery manager which I presume he did because since then they've been different with me. I'm still off work sick at the moment, due to go back second week of January but I've been in hospital twice since all of this.

After everything, I probably won't be staying there much longer now. Just seems very hostile and I'm still feeling uncomfortable and anxious about returning.

Thank you for replying ☺️

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