Disability Whilst Working?: This is... - Fibromyalgia Acti...

Fibromyalgia Action UK
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Disability Whilst Working?


This is probably a silly question, but I'm going to ask it anyway! I don't want to claim disability benefits, as there are plenty of you guys out there who need them more than me; plus, I have a job that pays me too well to consider it whilst I can still drag my bum out of bed every morning to get to it!

My question is, can you be categorised as having a disability, even under those circumstances? I guess I'm looking for some aspect of protection from the disability discrimination act, as my job is ever-changing, and there are certain things that I just can't do these days, despite the fact that I'm only 32. My boss is a stickler for rules, and if she can find a way out of making any allowances for my health issues, then she certainly will - she's already increased my workload against the advice of Occy Health because (and I quote) 'he only said he hoped it would continue, not that it had to'. This isn't a situation that I wanted to ever find myself in (as, I suspect, it is for most of us), but if there is a way to fight back a little, then I'd like to find it!

20 Replies

Hi, i used to work for the HR dept in my place of work. what you could do with getting is a copy of the disability / discrimination policy. this should outline what your company sees as a disability. Of course some disabilities are more obvious than others but stress, anxiety and depression are classed as a disability - this is law rather than a company to company thing- my advice to you would be to get a 'fit for work' note from your own gp then sit down with your employer and set out clearly what you can and cant do, this way if they make you do anything you have specified you cant do and you end up off sick there not an awful lot they can do as they have not stuck to what the agreed with you. As an employer, they have to been seen to be making adjustment to your work to accomidate for your illness, if they are not prepared to do this then they are discriminating against you for your illness which is part of the disability discrimination act. Like i say, some aspect vary for company to company but overall the policies tend to be very similar as it is legislation from the government that nobody is to be discriminated against no matter what age, sex, race and ability.

Hope that makes sense and helps you a bit


in reply to hjones

Well, I've checked the entire stack of policies on our intranet, and there's nothing for disability or discrimination (there is, however, a policy that tells you how to write a policy, which raised a smile!) - the nearest that we have is a policy for performing equality impact assessments when writing policies to ensure that patients aren't discriminated against. It doesn't surprise me, though, as even our new sickness absence policy makes only the briefest allusion to disability and rights contained within the DDA. I'll look into the act in more detail, and then maybe rope my GP in with a fitness for work note.

Thanks for the advice! xx

hi there, your employer sound like one that if they can find a loop hole they will so for your own sake have your disability recognized and if you have to claim DLA that way you have all the medical back up if any thing should go belly up DLA is there for all disabled people working or not hope this helps

in reply to sylp65

You're probably right, although she's a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde, so I'm never sure I'm I'm getting the supportive boss today, or the unsupportive one! I will look into it, though.


You can indeed be catagorised as having a disability while working, but the biggest barrier we face is attitudes in the workplace. The fact you fill in an Equalities Form when applying for work indicates this and the best place to look is not always individual workplace guidelines (as often these are very wrong). You need to get hold of a laymen's copy to the new Equalities Act which ALL workplaces should abide by, but don't. I work for an organisation that helps people with this issues and quite frankly it's shocking how much they get away with things.

One such point is after a period of time at your workplace you are legally allowed to ask for adjustments to be made in writing, within reason, obviously. Your workplace is supposed to ask for independent advice and you are to suggest things that will make it easier for you to do you work without compromising on what needs done or what is in your role description.

I came to a compromise of flexible working and working one day a week from home. I still struggle, so I could ask for two days a week at home, but it depends if this would affect what i do in the office, so it's looking at ways to minimise this. Sometimes people have to request to go part-time and suggest the other part of their post is shared.

It is very complicated, but seeking help and advice is important before you tackle your workplace and some people find themselves in very sticky situations.


in reply to Cazie

Thanks for that information - it sounds like most are like the bosses where I am; they either don't know the rules, or just pretend that they don't! I'll look into the Equalities Act, and see what I come up with. xx

I understand just how you feel, last year I qualified as a mental health nurse, my first contract ended up being a nightmare as soon as they found out that one of my disabilities was fibro the ward manager was on the fast road to get rid of me, I had my union involved eventually going to a appeal, I glad to say that I won and was reinstated but to a community post instead, till the end of my orginal temp contract. This was within the NHS so it is tough, are you part of a union, if not i would advise you join one, I never favored having to join one before but so glad I had. Also if you go on the NHS wed sight and print off there explanation about Fibro, and give it to your boss, and ask your doctor or consultant to write you a supporting letter, it does not matter where you work Fibro is a disability and work have to make reasonable ajustment it is part of law. As hard as it is stand your ground do so its so important that your health comes first good look. hugs xx

in reply to tess10

I actually work for the NHS in a clinical role, but - whilst this should make it easier for my clinical boss to understand - she actually said to me once (before it was known that this was my likely diagnosis) that 'fibromyalgia doesn't exist!' - I can emphatically tell her that it bl**dy well does! I am in the SCP union and am best mates with the current rep, although he is due to retire in December (and I'm hoping that he does decide to stay on, as he keeps talking about it!). Thanks for the heads up - hope things are going better for you now! xx


Not a stupid question at all.

You can find out all about the Disability Discrimination Act by typing it in a search.

To be registered as disabled in your work place you need to have had an ailment that has restricted you for at least 12 months and will probably continue. Your employer cannot refuse to accept your application. You will then be covered under the Act.

As you are disabled it is in your interest to claim DLA. You may be able to get to work now but that recognition and any award can only help you. How quickly things can change so it is best to arrange all you can while you are up to it. Good luck xx

in reply to FionaP

It's 12 months for me on 13th September (yes, I can actually be that specific, although I'd had a few issues before that which I'd ignored), so getting very close to it. By the time I find out what the last set of blood results were, I suspect that it'll be 12 months - I'm thinking of holding a birthday party for my pain!

You're right, of course - I suppose I don't really like to think of myself as getting to that stage, but I'm only 32, and I've got another 36 years of work left in me yet! Plenty could change in that time, couldn't it?

Thanks for the advice! xx

Well i definately know relatives on disability with blue badge and a car and work.

So you are definately entitled to an extent.

My Dr told me to claim other friday but realised i am an Employer so its a bit different i think.

I struggle with my landrover and gears on bad days and alately its bad. Whats easy to my hubby is very difficult to me.

I cannot walk far and feet painful so insoles. A lot more too!!

I have a lot of houses to deal with which involve stairs and use both sides a lot to get up! Some i just let girls do and have to be confident wrk is done as i have to sit in car at times as too much.

So lets hope their is no discrimination and we are workers and just need support.

Xxxx all the best

Cazzie xxxx

in reply to fairycazzie

It sounds like your business really takes it out of you, Cazzie. :( I know what you mean about painful feet - I'm a podiatrist, and am frequently padding my feet up with stuff out of the clinic (luckily, that's one thing my boss is perfectly happy for us to do), but they still hurt. I drive with ankle support on, as the constant clutch and accelerator work of urban driving takes it out of my ankles and knees, and often wear both my fingertip-less arthritis gloves and wrist braces to drive longer distances, as - whilst it doesn't do that much to ease the pain - it helps me to feel a bit more secure and stable from the wrist down.

Hope you get some luck soon! xx

in reply to fairycazzie

Hi Cazzie

The rules are no different for you. As a disabled person and are having difficulties you should be registered and can claim both DLA and a blue badge. As an employer you just have to be considerate if one of your employees becomes disabled. there is advice for employers on line.

I am in receipt of Direct Payments to employ a Personal Assistant so I have checked out the Law to know where I stand in this respect.

best wishes x

in reply to FionaP

Hi Fiona,

I've found the relevent bits of the act, and highlighted them for my boss! Now, do I have to apply for anything directly at work, or submit a covering letter, or something? Or am I automatically covered, as fibro is specifically mentioned in the act?


Sara xx

Hi Sooty,

Sounds like a plan with supports and driving.

If i do a 60 mile journey blimey its sooo hard!!

Constantly swapping hands and excercising them and the clitch and accelorstor as u say i keep cracking my ankles as i have to lol, my husband had my handbrake altered so just one notch as i sooo could not pull high enough, my gears are a struggle quite a lot too and hubby says they sooo easy!!!

I have an old car 11yrs old as the lovely new convertible i had got written off and had little finance so i got a land rover freelanader! Love it for comfort and height i must admit, but i could do with automatic as would take strain off. But do not want any finance.

This is why was thinking as i still running my wrk wud i be entitled to some help with a car aswell as badge, do not claim anything and am sooo trying to keep going.

I hope you keep on going too and your boss spunds great!!

Xx thank you xxxxxxxxxxcazzie :-) xxx

Hi fiona

In response to yours, bit difficult as i am my own boss and thats the problem.

I could do with helping hand in what ever ways possible to keep going.


DLA or having a blue badge aren't means tested so it doesn't matter how much you are paid, if you are entitled to them, then you are.

You could get an assessment done by your social services. I have a little green card which says I am on their disability register. It doesn't entitle you to anything as such but its will be a true and proper record of your disability and would have to be taken into account.

Good luck and take care xx

A link to the Equality Act 201 Guidance, for future reference:



2010, even!

I work for a small dry cleaning company in a shop , I have no manager, no colleagues, no back up if I'm sick , no hr dept !! I have been there for nearly two years and have had days off amounting to 4 weeks. I only am able to work 16 hours a week and have applied for PIP because of this . I asked my employer if he could move the washing machine to a higher level and he said yes , this was a month ago ..... I am worried when I have time off as was told by CAB that if I haven't been there two years you have no rights, if they were to sack you . I have managed to hold on as been there two years in July so then going to ask for more adjustments x

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