Occupational Health - Is it worth it?

Good evening my fellow Fibro bloggers,

I have a question that i need some information on. I currently work full time and due to this wonderful "condition" that i now have my sickness record is on the rise. Thankfully my line manager and team leader have been understanding and even taken the time to research Fibromyalgia, However, both are off to pastures new and they fear that my new manager and team leader may not be so understanding and may possible make my life, difficult for want of a better phrase and force me to leave. (I have been with the company for 6 years).

My current team leader has suggested that my information is handed over to Occupational Health so that i am covered and that they can make the necessary cover and arrangements. Needless to say i am slightly nervous as i also have to deal with depression and my immune system is not what it used to be, so i pick up bugs quite quickly, which also forces me to take time off work, as they all have a knock on effect as i am sure you are all aware of.

Do i agree to let Occupational Health have a look at my records and take it from there or just keep my fingers crossed that my new team leader and line manager are just as sympathetic?

Hope someone can shed a light on this tired old brain of mine, :)

19 Replies

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  • Well firstly they know what your records are and when you go off sick

    they are there for you not your manager and are not suppose to be interested in

    anyone else.

    I can only tell you what happened to me, I firstly had a week off from

    the doctor, then I had a few days after that not all at the same time

    then I had another week off this was all because of Fibro, but the odd

    days I told them that I had a migraine that was not true,

    I do know what it is like at your place but I have to have an interview

    return to work to makes sure I am OK this happens every time I am

    off sick, anyway at the interview with my line manager I told the truth

    and said that all my days were because of fibro, I dont know how many

    days you have to have off before they have to send you to occy health

    I cant remember. anyway they sent me to occy health had to as I was

    sick for the same condition.

    I dont know what your job is mine is a nurse, I only work 22 hours anyway

    they did not exam me were very nice and very helpful and very quick

    they had all my sick record for the last 4 years even when My Mum died

    they asked me how they could make my life better for me and my

    answer was that I wanted to work one day on and on day off as to

    work two or three days in a row made me worse.this was agreed and

    this is what happens and I find it much better, also if you are off sick

    with fibro it does not count on your sickness.

    for me it was the best thing that I have done, one of the ladys who work

    in the offices where I am also has fibro, and can only do so long on the

    computer so she is also under occy health she does 20mins on the computer

    and 15 mins off, if anything happens to you and they have been informed

    then they are at fault for not making your life better for you we are very

    lucky as not a lot of places have this.

    hope this helps and dont worry go for it at least you will be covered.

    love viv

  • Hi Claris, occy health are there to help you not the company, I had a lot of dealing with them when I was still working & they did a hell of a lot for me including making my work station more comfortable for me & I was able to walk around as sitting made my back worse so it was called freedom of movement I think so to answer your question definitely yes they can make your life so much easier.

    Hope this helps....take care. Gwen.

  • Hi Clarisa

    Viv's comments are very useful if you work in the NHS or other organisation with clearly defined sickness policies. You don't say what type of organisation you work for.

    I too worked for the NHS and they had a very strict policy in my last PCT. After only two weeks off I was required to go for an occupational health interview.

    I had a manager with a very bullying style who had a record of staff complaints, one of which ended up in a court case. She broke all the rules e.g. ringing me at home to pressurise me to come back to work when I was very ill.

    I know that Occupation Health are supposed to be 'in your corner' but it is useful to bear in mind that they work for the organisation and at the end of the day they may do what is best for the organisation. They did offer me some suggestions but my manager wouldn't agree to what they suggested and they just went along with it.

    I believe i was entitled to early retirement on the grounds of health problems but I was so bullied that I ended up getting a sick note for six months and as I was on a one year contract, that was my career over! I was suffering from severe depression at the time and couldn't defend myself.

    Are you a member of the union? If so, I would have a word with your union rep before you get too involved with Occ Health. Sorry if this is very negative but organisations vary quite a lot in Occ Health policy and the general culture of the organisation.

    Viv had a very good experience but mine was not so good and I felt I should tell you that so that you can go into your dealings with Occ Health having heard both sides of the story..

    Wishing you the very best of luck.!

    Christine x

  • hi clarisa

    i work for central government that have clearly defined attendance policies. we are permitted 6 absences or 12 days which ever comes first before triggering an attendance warning. I have worked full time there for 12 years and my attendance has been good.However, since 2010 i have found it difficult and have used annual leave when i have felt unwell. I was sent to the occy health nurse and the occy health doctor, they contacted my doctor and consultant and due to the conditions (joint hypermobility syndrome and fibro) i have had my trigger points raised and am permitted to take up to 12 weeks a year disability leave-for physio etc.

    it is important that the occy health informs your employer that your condition is defined as a disability as defined by the equalities Act 2010 as this gives you some protection.

    my employer has had to make reasonable adjustments to my working times, i work in a shift working environment but now i am exempt from early shifts and night shifts. Also i have a role where i can pace myself. My work station has been assessed and its easier to work.

    so, i think the occy health is important if you wish to continue working and managing your condition. the point of this is that there should be a level playing field for staff, people with a disability should not be disadvantaged.

    go and see them, i dont think your will be disappointed

    good luck

    lucy x

  • That's very useful information Lucy. I wish I'd known it back then! Thanks for posting this. Christine x

  • Hi I had a very good experience of OH my boss was also a bully but they helped me a lot. One thing though they told me was that they can only make recomendations not enforce anything. I got eadrly tretirement on the grounds of ill health with an enhanced pension. My union was also brilliant so they are always good to be on side. I really hope that you get sorted Take care Sue

  • I would be careful...as Christine said not all employers are supportive and the occupational health services they used are not always impartial.

    I was officially diagnosed last year with fibro, but I knew for sometime that something was not right. I work for a charity and our service was TUPED over last year and this is where my problems began. I was on and off sick for 2/3 weeks over seven months and my employer sent me to occ health. I was assessed and the occ health guy appeared to understand what I was going through. My report came to back to me and HR who called me in and I got the shock of my life. The occ health had said that in six months as I had fibro it was likely that I would be unable to work and that I should be put to part time work until I basically gave up, my sickness should be monitored with a view to using the sickness disciplinary if necessary. There was mention that my fibro should be considered under the disability act however my sick days were not to be discounted. I was shocked as he had not suggested this at all to me. In fact he gave the impression I should be support by my employer and that the request for regular breaks and less late work as my amptripaline was knocking me out by 7pm.

    At the meeting, HR asked me what I could do to help myself at work as I disagreed with occ health’s report. I was told I would be monitored for the next year. I told them I had joined a gym to help with my mobility. HR told me I had to change my gp as I STUPIDLY told them that my gp and Croydon borough did not recognise fibro.. I was told I would be monitored for the next year and I would be on a stage one disciplinary if things did not improve.

    Since then I asked for a chair to help support my back etc it’s been a year and a half and no sign of it yet!!. I have had to come in to work even though my mood has been very low and there are days I can barley work or walk, but from works point of view at least I have had only 3 days sick, they let me work from home the other day, I had to do twice the work I do at work on a normal day and told to work harder!! I thought of speaking to the union but the reps are pretty new and the main union rep is my manager ( I know how can a manager be a union rep for workers- unison have very questionable practices) and it is him who has been the most unsupportive.

    Just tread carefully and make sure you know that your occ is impartial. IAs I my employer used a private firm not an NHS one. Sory i know this is quite a negative reply but i really wouldnt wish my experience on anybody.

    Take care and I wish you the best of luck.

  • So sorry you had a bad experience too but don't feel so bad now. Christine x

  • My last full-time job (2003-4) was for a community project funded by a grant, overseen by local government and I was on a fixed term contract, my boss arranged for me to see occupational health and they organised for me to see someone from Access to Work - they arranged equipment for me to make my job easier.

    When my contract ended, I brought the equipment home so if I'm ever fit enough and manage to find a suitable job again, I can take everything to my next job.

  • Hi, I am on the sick at the moment from work with a flare up, I was diagnosed a year ago with Fibro and CFS, one of the things the immunologist recommended was that I go to a CFS Therapy class, as well as lots of different drugs for fibro, since being ill I have reduced my working hours down to 20 a week from full time and now my company are making me work back the time I have taken for the therapy sessions, even though it is classed as a treatment, so I owed them 40 hours which I am working back at 15 minutes a day, to make me "the same as every one else" I have been put on a stage 1 for my sickness, even though I had Occ health and evidence of my illness, the different drugs used etc! I think the mistake I made was having odd days off when I really "hit the wall" so had 3 odd days in 2 weeks, along with my stage 1 they said if I needed sick leave I could request holidays I have asked 3 times for holiday and told no because to many people have rang in sick!! I am going to take the time off I need this time and get pulled around, but I have the fear looming over me that I am done the stage 2 route as soon as I go back!! So I would get Occ Health involved it go me a better chair.....well its on order they say!!

  • Hiya, im not sure they can make you work back the time?? firstly, did your occy health report state that your condition is likely to be considered as a disability as defined under the EA210? if so, the time off for therapy could be considered a reasonable adjustment in accordance with that Act and unless you are no no longer disabled they cannot welch on that, no matter what their internal policies are..have they made any reasonable adjustments at all?

  • OH can be very helpful, and they are a wealth of knowledge at times, Try and not be afraid, but as others have said just be a wear of what your employer is like. you do have rights, Get your GP or specialist involved as well not right at the beginning because you don't know what the OH going to recommend and how yr employer going to react, but make them aware on what going on, try and not stress to much if you can as you know it wont help your fibro ,

    Hope it goes well for you.

  • This document has useful info, I'm taking it with me to my next meeting with my boss hief.org.uk/sitebuildercont...

  • My understanding of the role of occupational health is to advise your employer, not instruct them. If you have a disability and this is defined under the equalities act then the company, whoever they are are obliged by law (not their own policies) to make reasonable adjustments to allow you to keep working. Sickness due to disability will always be monitored and the company do not have to make extra allowances for sickness due to disability.However, enhanced sickness trigger points count as a reasonable adjustment, and an employment tribunal would look very dimly on an employer who did not make these reasonal adjustments. I have know disabled people being sacked for attendance after all reasonable adjustments have been made. This would not be deemed unreasonable by a judge as the company/organisation you work for do not have to continue to employ you if you are not attending work, but they absolutely have to demonstrate that they have made all the reasonable adjustments recommended by the OH to ensure your well being at work and to help you stay in work.

    I hope it works out for you, dont stress too much and just be honest with them... i told them i used annual leave when i was having a flare up...they told me that this is not a level playing field as my non disabled colleagues used their leave for holidays..if i didnt have the fibro i wouldnt be using all my leave up to cope with this disabling condition. Now i have enhanced sickness trigger points, so im not using my leave- thats a level playing field.

    hugs to you XX

  • I think going to occupatioal health is a good idea because they are usually health professionals, I have been seeing one all the way through my time off sick and even while I've been back at wotk past few weeks. They can advise your employees about amended duties and time in work. If your employees don't accept the're advice then they are liable for anything that may happen afterwards so it is in their best interest as well so they have an employee who is working as well as they can.

    I'm in a tricky situation myself at work where they have put me on a phased return after being off for 9 months but have worked it so I am full time in 6 weeks which i really struggled with this past week and had to take a sick day. Seeing occupational health myself on monday so am hoping it goes well my employers when they give advise to extend my phased return.

    Hope this has helped and good luck! :) x

  • Hi i got the sack because of fibro so much time off and i worked their for 17 yrs evev though i was up front with my boss and as his wife had ME he knew a lot about it and said she cant work and thought i should leave my job and because i refused to leave he then sacked me and because of that i had to sell my own house and move back in with my mum,

  • Evening Folks,

    Sorry for the delay, my laptop hasn't been well and refused to play ball lol.

    Anyway, thank you to all who have responded. I work for a hygiene company in a administration position, so i am sat at a desk all day. I do have breaks as such but use the excuse to make the brews, which the team i work on know all about. They know about my condition and as such have become a bit more tolerant of me occasionally wandering off, as i have been known to fall asleep at my desk before now, especially if i have had a rough night due to lack of a decent sleep.

    I am not part of a union as our contract states that i no unions are allowed within the company. Work have been good including when i was in hospital for a month on a pain management programme. Occupational Health at the hospital even wrote a letter to my employer stating what was needed, and that included getting a special chair with the coccyx area cut out so that i could sit up straight, and so that nobody in the office could pinch my chair or change the settings, which happened on a regular basis on the normal office chairs. The issues i am now faced with are my hands as they hurt more than anything especially if they get cold as they are also painful to touch. This winter could be fun if i cant even handle the cool air from air con systems.

    We do have a sickness level system but it was enforced when some old staff started to take advantage of it and nothing was being done about it other than verbal warnings. Especially those who knew to how to play the system to. I have never phoned in sick just to take a skive, its not worth it. I would like to think i have nothing to worry about with regards to my sickness level, but in this day and age you never can tell.

    Well peeps, its 2333hrs and its time i try and sleep.

    Sweet dreams everyone,

    xxx :)

  • PS I forgot to say that i received my paperwork from OH and they have requested the name of my doctor and the pain consultant that i am under at the moment, i have also requested to see the report before my employer does, so i shall keep you informed on how it all goes.

    I returned my consent back this afternoon, but also took a copy for my records to.

    Fingers crossed xx :)

  • Morning all,

    Well they haven't wasted any time and i have my appointment on 27th September. I did ask for my sister to come with me as she is a nurse and explain things better to me after the meeting but she is on nights that week and will be in bed! So i go alone. Oh well never mind.

    Have a great day everyone :-)

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