Right, now I’m bolstered by the forthcoming weekend, I’ve got the strength to write about the much alluded-to meeting with my boss earlier this week.
To set the scene, I returned to full-time work in February (on a rehab programme), having had 5 months ‘on the box’. I initially started on 50:50 clinical:admin work, which went up to 60:40, after my boss said that the Occy Health doctor’s statement that he ‘hoped I could continue with 50:50’ didn’t say that I had to, so she wanted to move me up to equivalent with my colleagues, as (and I quote) it wasn’t fair to them if I didn’t!
This was my final stage 2 sickness meeting, and I had received an email from her earlier in the week to say that she was happy with the status quo, and that the meeting was just a formality. Needless to say, I was not convinced, and rightly so! My union rep attended with me, and the silent-but-deadly HR advisor was also present. The opening gambit was innocuous enough: ‘how are you getting on?’ To which I replied that I was struggling, but that I was coping ok most of the time (this was later recorded in the summary letter as ‘I am very happy with my current workload’ – not quite what I said!). And then, it starts … ‘how about doing some home visits for us?’!
Now, home visits are one of only 2 aspects of my job role that I don’t do – I work full-time, have no reduction of my clinic lists, and am now up to the same work split as my healthy colleagues. The only other thing I don’t do is cover clinics in my admin time, as I feel that it makes me an unsafe clinician due to increased pain and fatigue. So I replied (as calmly as I could) that the Occy Health doctor had said already that this was not something I could do, and that I was unable to sit on the floor (without a crane to hoist me back to my feet), or rest a heavy limb on my aching knee, and that the constant spinal curvature would leave me with crippling back pain. She said that the Occy Health letter had only said that I ‘should’ remain in clinic, and hadn’t given reasons, and that my colleagues did home visits, so why couldn’t I? I responded that my colleagues didn’t have a disability, and she said (to my disbelief) ‘well, neither do you’!
I’m afraid I got shirty at this point, and asked her if she would like me to get the Equality Act 2010 Guidelines out of my car, which clearly stated the criteria for disability, and I meet them. She asked if I was claiming benefits, and I advised her that I didn’t need to in order to meet the classification. She asked if this was expected to last for the rest of my life (I bit back the urge to say that, if she’d read any of the information that I’d given her in preparation for the meeting, she’d know that it was), to which I said, most probably, yes.
She backed off a little on this point after that, and then laid into me for not having driven to the hospital to chase up my Occy Health appointment – I’m afraid my response was ‘I’ve been busy with my admin work; I don’t just use those sessions to pick my nose, you know?’ I think she may have got the message that she’d pushed me too far, especially with the rapid eye movement coming from the HR advisor, and the rest of this meeting went quickly and without too much consequence.
After that, I had to argue with her on matters of uniform – clogs are not ‘closed in shoes’, leggings are not suitable (even though she signed off the mufti claim form for them only 4 months ago!), and I won on the clogs, and surrendered on the leggings, provided the company paid out for the new trousers!
Lastly, even though I’d given her a folder full of 1) my current symptoms and medication, 2) fibro factsheets from the fibroaction website, and 3) research abstracts to give a bit of credence to my condition, I told her that my mate in physio was going to fix me up with elbow crutches. Her reponse … ‘What for?’ Clearly, it is so that I can beat her into submission with one, whilst supporting myself on the other! Even though I obviously don’t need to support myself, as I am suffering from an imaginary, exaggerated disease.
Sorry for the very long blog, but she does so much to wind me up in such a short space of time that it takes this long to explain! I can only thank my lucky stars that I barely have to see her, or think how close I would be to pseudo-regicide …