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:
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:
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.