Fibromyalgia Action UK
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The everlasting saga of footwear for work

The everlasting saga of footwear for work

I've just had yet another email from my boss, who has found the time, not to read anything about fibromyalgia, but to read the uniform policy so that she can criticise my footwear yet again! You may have seen in my other blogs that she said my sandals weren't suitable, and I needed closed toes. Then, when I got clogs, she said I needed closed backs too, and that the light, white floral pattern on my black clogs wasn't 'appropriate', despite the fact that there are others in the department wearing fuchsia shoes, and pillar-box red!

This is the email I received:

Hi Sara

The existing uniform policy and dress code policies give clear descriptions of footwear that is appropriate for clinical work.

These state that shoes must have closed in toes and back area. There are suggestions of styles for you to view. Clogs are not suitable footwear. Multi coloured shoes are not suitable.

If you have issues with this please contact me


And this is what I sent back:

Hi M,

For the winter period, I do not have issues with this, as I will be wearing black boots. However, for the summer months, I have already explained to you the medical issues with my feet on multiple occasions, both in one-to-ones, in writing, and with Graeme and HR present. I have tried multiple other style of shoe, and they are not suitable for my feet; this is due, as I have stated on numerous occasions, to bursae on both feet, hypersensitivity from my fibromyalgia, and a bony protrusion on the posterior aspect of my right heel. I have experimented with many different types of shoes, both with and without backs, and the only ones that are comfortable for me to wear all day are Birkenstocks or fully-sheepskin-lined boots. I did explain this to you at length last week.

Whilst I appreciate that the existing policy does specify closed-back shoes, this does also state that it is for safety in lifting and handling procedures, which I would not undertake, citing the pre-existing health conditions as my reason. There is also the following within the policy, which I believe may go some way towards covering my view on this issue:

2.4 Accepting individuality

2.4.1 Considerations will be important for staff with disabilities that are not able to wear the standard uniform and pregnant workers who need to wear different clothing to maintain personal safety as the pregnancy progresses.

This is also backed up by the Equality Act 2010, which states that employers are bound by law to provide reasonable adjustments for their employees with a disability. For reference, a disability is defined as a condition which has lasted longer than 12 months, and is expected to last for a further 12 months, be recurrent, or be a life-long condition, AND causes a substantial and long-term effect on a person’s normal activities. As you will no doubt have read in the information that I gave you last week, I do qualify for this classification.

Finally, please could you point out the specific part of the existing policy that prevents a member of staff wearing ‘multicoloured’ footwear? I have read the whole policy, and can find no such guideline. As I have already explained, these were the only pair available.

Currently, M, I am struggling to come to work, and – rather than acknowledging this and making some allowance for my condition – I feel like you are singling me out for criticism at every turn, and ignoring the wealth of information that I am giving you to help you to understand. I know that this is a difficult condition to accept and adjust to, but I am trying to attend work every day, despite being in constant pain, and suffering from debilitating fatigue – I do not feel that asking to wear a different pair of shoes, and not do home visits, is much to ask of this Trust, considering that I rarely take time off sick from work, and am still working full-time, and pulling my weight.

I’m sorry if this email seems disjointed in any way, but I am quite troubled that this discussion is still going on, despite the uneasy agreement that we made last week.


I have cut her name out to avoid naming her on the site, which is probably more courtesy than she would show me! I think I may get some backlash from this email, and I probably still won't win; maybe I should've waited until my anger had cooled before replying, but that invariably makes me feel worse, as I'm left fuming over what I plan to write. My union rep was copied into both of the above, anyway; although I wonder if he can justifiably back me up, as he is also the health & safety rep.

Anyway, it's done now, so I'll just have to sit back and wait for her to phone or email me again!

Nos morituri te salutamus.

22 Replies

Good email = well done.

She is just being a vindictive mare in my opinion. She should have some idea now of what you are going through - we have to be careful ... I tore the tendons under the arch of my right foot yesterday - horrible wobbly feeling in my foot every time I move it. Hope it will heal soon.

Julie xx


Thanks, Julie. Hope your foot is feeling better soon - have you got it strapped up? Might be worthwhile getting referred to a physio sooner rather than later, so that it doesn't all tighten up and make matters even worse for you.

Gentle hugs xx


Your boss is clearly enjoying throwing her weight around and what a shame you have to be the target on this occasion. I think you have answered in a clear, reasonable and articulate manner and I sincerely hope that she will see her pettiness for what it is. I wonder if she feels threatened by you Sara? She certainly seems to have some issues that she needs to deal with! Stay strong. Jane x


A few people have said that she might feel threatened, but I'm really not sure why! If she stopped being such an arse about it all, we could just get on with the job a lot more productively!

I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but not holding my breath!

Gentle hugs xx


Am so sorry for all you are going through.... Respect that you work with fibro. I am afraid I would be tempted to stomp into her office in steel toe capped Welles 5 sizes to big to allow for the bone spur and and bursae and yell satisfied now and stomp back out before she could answer... Maybe treading on her toes on the way out... I know it wouldn't help but I find I am so fed up of jobs worth who seem determined to make our lives harder than they are already.... Fingers crossed your email finally sinks in. Though it seems like she needs your reply tattooed on the inside of her eyelids to get through to her.

Hugs VG xx


She is just that type of person, I'm afraid, although several people in the team have said things along the lines of 'she's really got it in for you'! She tends to confront you publicly, too, in a busy office, or in front of other colleagues in a clinic. I don't know if this is deliberate, or if she doesn't even think about it, but it's the next thing I'm going to have to discuss with her, because it's totally unprofessional.

How to win friends and influence people ... ;) xx



I to have a uniform policy, I work for the NHS and I get checked

every month because they do an audit not just footwear but also

Socks ear rings, rings on fingers and other things it's to stop

Infection. Spread

I wear lace up ankle boots I understand how you feel but we are

All checked on the ward, the thing I could never work out is how

The philapinos can wear trainers.


I can kind of understand it; what frustrates me the most is that she's making a very big thing about my footwear, when there are plenty of others who wear awful footwear (ballet pumps etc.) to whom she says nothing. Plus, her irritation seems to be the pattern on them rather than the style, as she has ranted on about that (at length)! And they do have a lip at the back to keep them on my foot, and a textured leather base, which again is better than many others!

If she acknowledged the fact that I'm in pain, and tried to work out a solution with me, I could stand it, but she really doesn't see why I can't just wear any pair of shoes and be done with it. It's like the past 7 months of me explaining my condition mean nothing. It's not like I haven't tried, and, up until 2 weeks ago, our departmental uniform policy included sandals, so I suspect this is more about corporate image than health & safety!

I see where you're coming from, though, but I owe it to myself to fight until the battle is lost! :)

Hugs xx


I agree with you go for it but don't get to stressed

As you will not feel well after and you have to ask yourself

At the end of the day is it worth the fight as your health

Will suffer, and are you likely to win, as we don't often

Do we against managers

Maybe you could go down the bulling rout rather than fight

Her, as it seems to me that is what she is doing if she is

Not treating you all the same.

That is the point I was trying to make where I work we are

All treated the same, except the philapinos,

I can't be bothered any more, as it makes me ill so just

Beware what you start, as you don't want your health

To become worse


Thanks, Vivien - I'll try to look after myself - let's face it, no one else will at work!

Gentle hugs - you look after yourself, too! xx


have you printed out her's and your emails? keep them in a file and keep a diary.

I think that what you've written is brilliant. can you cc her bosses with it?

keep up the fight but look after yourself.




i think she needs management training ! humiliating someone is a disgrace she is a bully no other name for it, still you seemed clued up so best of luck and if she starts again just imagine decking her it works for me lol x


Just wanted to add my support ~ and to say what a wonderful, articulate and thoughtful email you sent in reply!! I really hope you get somewhere with this & will be interested to hear your updates.

I worked for the NHS for over 20 years & ALWAYS struggled with shoes... I've recently been in hospital & of course gone are the dresses, thick tights, hats (LONG gone) & all that and in are scrubs & crocs for footwear!!!!!!!!! Not one person I saw wore the uniform shoes that we had to they were all in crocs!!!!!!!!!!!! THESE are open backed of course...

I live in Exeter, Devon & would be interested to hear the experience of others as to what their local NHS staff are wearing at this time???? I've not seen one dress or even trouser uniform recently it's now all scrubs... ... ... and crocs!!! ;-)

Wishing you the very best of luck with this. They should look after you as you are amazing to hold down a full time demanding job with FM & all that goes with it!!!!!!!! Just thinking about it is making me tired... ... ... :-D



Apparently, such things are fine for surgery (where I am standing the whole time), but not for clinical work! I would have thought that surgery was a higher risk for slips etc, than clinics, where I spend a lot of time seated, but apparently not.

I shall fight the good fight, and I have offered to put straps on the back of my clogs (either myself, or with the aid of a cobbler), if this will help me to satisfy the needs of the policy!

Keep smiling, all! xx


I have the uniform not scrubs, I think the scrubs were brought in

To stop people going shopping in there uniform, who would want

To go shopping in scrubs

I work in a mans prison in the hospital, still NHS I wear trousers

And ankle lace up boats, I could ware a dress, but I don't think so

The prison I work in is for sex offenders


Definitely wouldn't wear a dress! I've been assaulted at work once in flat shoes, trousers and an oversized polo shirt, and I work in community!



Support and hugs. Your letter was just right. Do keep a record of everything as if she is bullying you will have evidence xx


Wonderful e mail Sooty B. Please let us know how you get on in response to this and the very best of luck !


Don't even ask me for my opinion on NHS managers - I will get banned for obscenity and not being politically correct, etc!

I made myself very unpopular with several managers in the hospital where I worked, because I pointed out to them that they were functionless drones who caused unnecessary distress to both medical staff and patients, and that they would be better employed picking up a mop and actually helping to implement our infection control policies.

Of course, I put it a little more politely than that, but the message was clear, and they didn't like it one bit!

(I must add that I don't wish to cause distress to any NHS manager who happens to be a member of this forum - I am sure that you are the exception to the rule!)

Keep fighting Sooty, and tell this bitch-woman to take some time out from harassing you in order that she may be able to do the real job she's so well-paid for - if she has a job description, that is.

Yeah - ask her for her job description, and look to see where it says she has to make disabled employees' lives a misery. It's always said that attack is the best form of defence!


Hee hee - I may be a low-level manager (and my boss is determined to trample me even lower!), but I agree whole-heartedly with you!

Interestingly, I was looking at other jobs online, and there was a list of 'manager dos and don'ts' for what they expected of their team. She did every one of the don'ts!



Your boss sounds like a right jobsworth and is clearly on a power trip - picking on a vulnerable member of staff. I hope you get some resolution on this - and comfort

Storm x


She certainly does not sound like an "investor in people" manager ;-) !! There are far too many people like her in the higher positions unfortunately - they would be so much better focussing upon getting the JOB done than becoming blinkered by petty rules that don't make a jot of difference to actual "customer experience!" If only she put as much energy into the actual work as she did in hounding you then I'm sure everyone would be so much happier.

Again very good luck with this, stick to your guns girl!! xx


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