Classing Fibromyalgia as a disability


I had a meeting with an HR adviser today in work over my absences - I have had 42 days over the last 12 months.

He is referring me to the occupational health service my employer uses. He helpfully stated that if occupational health classifies my illness as a disability further absences won't trigger any disciplinary action against me.

Has any one else been through this sort of process? I have never been formally diagnosed just assessed by my GP. What would it involve?

Thanks for any responses.

20 Replies

  • Hi Sorry to hear about your problem. I am sure there will be someone on here that can advise you on your job issue. I was told that i needed to see a rheumatoligist who would diagnose my fibromyagia officially. Good luck and please let us know how you get on. xx Ann xx

  • In in the US so not sure of that but in my opinion sounds like a good thing for you as you will not have to worry if you need to miss work . Peck.🐤

  • I was seen by a doctor who assessed me basically had a long chat with me. If you have any documentation from specialist this is always good to present to the OH doctor. Think on reasonable adjustments your employer could potentially make to help lower your sickness level so you go prepared if they ask you that question; a more suitable chair, hours adjustment, mental health help, referrals for physiotherapy.

    Be reasonable but honest to the questions, think before answering. If there have been issues at work which have caused you, as above think of reasonable adjustments - seeming to be proactive is always a good thing.

    Fibro is covered by the Equality Act (new name for disability act) so if you should be covered.

    It can be a stressful process but ultimately to your benefit if you are calm about things. Its so easy to wind yourself up into a frenzy but be honest about how things are affecting you, take information on fibro with you to the meeting with OH if you can.

    Hope this helps

  • I have never poersonalybeen through anything of this nature, but I want to gneuinly wish you all the best of luck :) :)

  • Hi I have been through this. I've been to see the OHS at work 3 times. They have been brilliant. I had a few chats about my absences, and following the reports from OHS, that all went away. I have had adjustments made on the strength of the reports and, in my opinion, it was a very positive experience for me. I have had a special chair bought for me. My hours have been adjusted and my Line Manager is very conscientious about making sure I am ok.

    OHS told me about Access to Work which has a lot of useful information about staying in work, sorry I don't have a link.

    Before I went I got myself into a tizz, thinking that they were going to try and 'trip me up'. It really wasn't like that. Hoping all goes well for you.

  • Hi

    As others have said nothing to worry about

    Doctor will be impartial will ask you questions most will ask you if you think Fibro is a disability which it is.

    Then send a written report to your employer with their recommendations.

    Normally inform you at the meeting what this will be, and have a duty to offer you a copy of this before sending to your employer .

    Best Wishes


  • Hi I've had many dealings with OH and they have always been helpful. If you have a chronic illness that has lasted longer than three months and is ongoing I think it should be classed as a disability, not certain though I think those are the terms of the equalities act, better check though, google it. Hope all goes well, take care.

  • I was originally diagnosed as having osteo arthritis, 2 years I was being treated for it, then I went private to see a rheumatologist, within an hour, he told me I had fybromyalgia which was virtually in heard of 22 yrs ago, I managed to work thru most of it up until 10 yrs ago, it hit me like a steam train, now my daughter is my full time carer, I can virtually do nothing for myself now, chronic pain, no sleep, depression, my gp just gives me more drugs to take rather than ask how I cope everyday with it, gets u down esp wen ur gp has no real interest in it or u, I hope u get the correct treatment real soon, but I would persist in pushing to see a rheumatologist if u can.

  • Hi- yes I worked for the NHS and I was well looked after by the occ Health Nurse, she referred me to physio for some mobility help who in turn ref me to a fantastic rheumatologist, I was told many years ago I had fibro and my new consultant went thru thorough testing to see if he could hep me move around better, he sorted out hydrotherapy and I,ve never looked back. slowly I made some progress but I have taken early retirement with the help of my occ health nurse, physio, g.p and consultant, I was more inclined to retire than get "pushed" Keep with O.H as much as you can they can be your life line to other services.

  • Good Morning

    I went through a similar thing with my employer, had several meetings with HR prior to being diagnosed, then eventually I was diagnosed with fibro already have arthritis (both hips replaced) my employer could not find me any alternative duties and was dismissed.

    I have worked for the past 43 years and am now on ESA, I have my ESA assessment today although I haven't been on ESA very long I don't understand the benefit system as new to it, from what I have read fibro has not been classed as a disability, I strongly believe it should be as the pain is just unbearable even with medication, not able to sleep makes you feel so low and no energy.

    You should go for any help your employer is offering you and try to keep your job, it is the most depressing thing not being able to work and feeling lonely and locked in your home through illness.

    Good luck I wish you all the best.


  • I had to see the company OH doctor. I was medically retired in the end but not because of Fibro. Hadn't been diagnosed at the time.

    I can only go on my own experience but OH paid for me to see a consultant privately. That way they had the detailed information they needed to assess my work capability. They are not there to trip you up in any way. I found that the best way was to be completely honest and up front. That included details of how my condition affected my life at home and at work.

    Try to see it as a positive. You may get the kind of benefit I got from seeing a consultant and eventually getting to the bottom of the problems with all the answers I needed. The retirement was a shock though, I was 49 at the time. 🐸

  • Hi oc health r there to help u and what the company can do to support you in,your working day. Fibro come under the disability act and it is classed as a dissabily dont b fobed off. And get all the help u can. Ive been to oc health twice now if you need any more info dont hesitate to ask angela.

  • As others have said, I also did this and am very grateful I did as it kept me working full time much longer than I would have otherwise. The law says that if a condition has a detrimental effect on your life for more than 12 months you are classed as disabled. This means that as long as you tell them, your employer must put in place any reasonable adjustments that would help you and effectively put you in the same position as someone with no disability. In my case that included being given the means to wotk at home on a flexible basis ( I was provided with a laptop and a dedicated work internet connection ) as I was having lots of time meant that on bad days when even getting dressed and leaving the house was impossible I could still work! Also to put me in the same position as someone without a disability any sick time I did have because of Fibromyalgia was discounted which was such a relief! By law your employer must help as long as it is 'reasonable ' for them to do so, so go for it and let us know how you get on..good luck!..

  • Hi InLiverpool,

    I am going for my third OH Referral next Friday (8th), and have had to arrange for most of the team I manage as well, we go to HML.

    I have been very lucky in the consultant I see, he was the RheumyCon for the British Olympic Team, so is very experienced. He also diagnosed my Fibromyalgia, which the 'jumped up little' Registrar had missed only two weeks before (!). John is really good, calm, patient, listens, reflects, asks quite pertinent questions which draws out things you may not think important.

    How to prepare:

    a) do a list of all your diagnosed syndromes/illnesses/problems, however trivial to you, could be quite important for the OH to know about.

    b) do a list of all the meds you take, try to do it as this:

    Day of week, med name, dose, morn, midday, early eve, late eve, total that day

    Hand this over, as its one of the most important things you can provide.

    c) take your most recent letter from RheumyCon/GP, as this is medical confirmation of your problems.

    d) make a list of what questions you want to ask,

    1) if I am classed as disabled for work, does it also mean I am classed as disabled for the DWP ?

    2) should I have my sickness consideration points enhanced ? (see below for explanation)

    3) what is the likely hood of my being able to continue to work ?

    4) ask for a copy of the report before it is sent to your employer, you are entitled to this at 24 hours before sent to employer.

    e) don't feel embarrassed, don't think it will affect any DWP allowances, you should get there about ten minutes before your appointment. You will have forms to fill in,band take/make time for 5minutes slow deep breathing, to calm you after the journey, and to let you think carefully before you go in.

    It's not an ordeal, they are not on anyone's side, they have been asked to access you for future employment. The result is as important to you as your employer, but they can only make suggestions, and they have to be acted upon within your employers policies, which you should by now have been given copies of.

    Mmmmm, sorry for long answer, but this is an important step for you, so some help as you asked for is what I hope I have given.

    Good luck, and please let me know how you get on.

    Hayesider xx

  • Hi InLiverpool,

    Most employers have a level of days sickness at which time they start to look at your previous 12 months absences and see if there is any link between them. It sounds in you case that there is. So if you reach/breach what we call your consideration point, then an HR Policy should start, of which you should have been given a copy.

    In your case, where you have had a good number of days sickness, the employer arranges for you to have an OH Referral, to get some idea of your likely future of absences, you have to be asked to attend, and you can refuse (but that's not in your best interest).

    If you/employer asked about raising your consideration points, you should get about 1/3rd to 1/2 increase. It is a rare employer who, if you are classed as 'disabled', will not worry about future absences. I should ask for the comment copied below to be put in writing before you go, and where it is in your employers attendance policy:

    He helpfully stated that if occupational health classifies my illness as a disability further absences won't trigger any disciplinary action against me.

    Ask any more questions, here to help if I can.

    Hayesider xx

  • Under the Equality Act any illness which has a long-term significant detrimental effect is a disability, it's not up to OH to decide. All sick leave I have related to my fibro, or for simple illnesses that are made much worse by my fibro (eg cold's that feel like flu), the leave is classed as disability related.

    I've just been told that as I've had 4 absences in a year my manager might get an HR notice saying to take it further, but I got told off last year for using my leave on can't-get-out-of-bed days, so I'd better not get a statutory warning!

  • Hello All

    Thanks for your very useful and pertinent replies. I am not sure when my appointment will be as my manager was told that all OH appointments were taken for this month. I will be speaking to my Union to get the relevant information and will gather the information on my absences , symptoms and medication to take with me.


  • While classifying your Fibromyalgia as a disability may mean that no disciplinary action will be taken for too many absences, your employer will still be concerned at the cost of those absences. No employer is bound by law to continue employing someone who is taking 8 weeks of paid sick leave each year. In the private sector employers would most likely look to exit you on health grounds. In the public sector, my experience is that the cost is pushed onto the pension scheme, with an ill-health retirement.

    But first of all, your employer should try to help you reduce your absences. A referral by your GP to a Fibromyalgia specialist or a Pain Consultant might help you a lot. Also are there any adjustments that could be made to your hours, your seating, your desk, or your duties to improve your attendance record? These are the sort of things that need to be considered and which you should be discussing with them.

    Fibromyalgia is a chronic health condition and its effects on your daily activities are classed as a disability, which is why people with Fibromyalgia receive disability benefits if the impact of their condition on their Care and Mobility needs is sufficient to justify it.

    If you are in a Trades Union, get your representative involved. If you are not in a Union, I would suggest that you join, if your employer recognises a Union.

  • Hi,

    Releasethemagic has taken my post the next step on. I work in the Civil Service, so totally agree with all they have said. One of the most important things about this website, is we can talk freely, without disclosing employer, hence the really important message above. I suggest you really think hard about the guidance 'releasethemagic' has suggested.

    It has been an eye-opener for me, to see how little information is shared about employment and its problems. There is a wealth of information among us, that we should be sharing. Perhaps we are nervous of giving up too much information about ourselves.

    I am 63yrs old, still work full time, have a lovely home with my wife, just 6months younger than me, live by the sea just 15minutes walk, have a large allotment from which I try to supplement our food, have our two Cavalier King Charles dogs that are an important part of our life.

    It's time we really started using this wonderful site ad the support medium it is supposed to be. Enough from me on my soapbox, it's up to you where we go from here !


  • Hi my employer had someone from fit for work phoning me every couple of weeks asking the same questions over the phone accessing me over the phone now that finished (3months) they are telling me I need to ot so 3 months of phone calls was a waste I've been off now since April 15 and my employer last spoke to me in November they have never even asked how I am I am now on pip and esa but still on there books as working because they don't want to pay my back they owe me as they are waiting for me to resign

    Carol x

You may also like...