Fatigue a disability under Equalities Act? What is... - Headway

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Fatigue a disability under Equalities Act? What is your experience?


Keeping it simple here my question is this:

Has anyone got any experience of fatigue and the Equalities Act 2010?

We are not sure that my husband's employers are willing to recognise his fatigue from PCS as a disability. Despite the fact he clearly cannot do a full day at work and needs frequent rest at home they are still viewing him as being on a 'return to work' program and are pressuring him about his need to work from home and work some shorter days at the moment. He is 12+ months post incident and 8 months with this employer. I cannot find any guidance on line as the Equalities Act guidance is too generic. I am interested therefore in whether anyone has experience with this.I have access to all the online guidance, it is anecdotal evidence I am hoping for - positive or negative. Thanks so much.

27 Replies

Not sure, but worth talking to remploy about employment issues.

Or consult a local employment solicitors?

Good luck ☺

gabby speak to headway, they give guidelines on avoiding fatigue 0800 800 2244


Would it come under the Equalities Act? Have you tried the Citizens Advice Bureau, they are usually quite knowledgeable about this sort of thing?

I can do a full days work, though I do less hours than I used to, and work try not to give me late finishes, it's a reasonable big company thus "reasonable adjustment" I haven't had to fight this luckily.


That's a very interesting question and one I have pondered myself and also regarding noise intolerance which induces fatigue for me. I am in the middle of referrals at the moment regards noise intolerance and was going to ask at next appointment if it is/can be recognised as a disability because of the fatigue it causes.

I feel for you and your husband regards the pressure being placed on him. Fatigue can be awful and only another bi survivor can truly understand how it feels.

Could you get your GP involved re fit notes and stipulate how many hours/duties he can undertake?

I was on phased return 10 months then we agreed my contract would be made permanently part time so I get rest days in between working.

Please let us know how you get on x

I'm going through almost exactly the same thing. I sent a bunch of info to the solicitors this week so hopefully I can let you know their opinion. Also, it's worth giving ACAS and EASS a call (though they will give you advice and both tell you to also speak to the other one!)

Pat-rick1 in reply to Lizum

IV been getting help with my fatigue only finished it this week , they tell you ways to fight it and not get wound up . For me it has not worked IV tried putting into practice, the breathing and what not !!!

Pat-rick1 in reply to Pat-rick1

It's not just fatigue it's the feeling of being a burden and that feeling sometimes goes away and sometimes not .

Pat-rick1 in reply to Pat-rick1

Omg I wish I had answers give me a pill anything

Pat-rick1 in reply to Pat-rick1

I had a fight with my partner last night about this and trying to explain why I feel like i do

Pat-rick1 in reply to Pat-rick1

Ok rant over , sorry 😐

Hidden in reply to Pat-rick1

Hi Patrick i empathise with you.

So many people say they can't explain what fatigue feels like. I don't know how it feels for everyone but my best description is it's like how your head feels when you've got a bad headcold or flu, all mushy/cotton wool like, which renders clear thinking or trying to process information almost impossible. The mushy head is also accompanied by a feeling of giant hands pressing down on my skull.

There are ways to try and lessen the effect of fatigue but i also believe it takes quite a long time for the brain to heal itself. In my opinion stress and trying to push through the fatigue does no good.

Are there any local BI support groups you and your partner could join to help you both understand the effects a bit more ?

debs-86 in reply to Hidden

Hi Rachel,

Just thought I'd ping a reply to you as you're description of fatigue is exactly how I try describe it to others!! The "giant hands on the skull" has been the only way I have been able to describe it...and recently another way being as though my skull is shrinking smaller than my brain!!

Apologies- I am not bringing anything to the table regarding the subject of the post!

Although I, myself am rather worried. I am currently try studying law to ultimately practice as a solicitor but don't know how I will be able to cope professionally full time...but I just need to cross that bridge when I come to it!

Take care all!


Hidden in reply to debs-86

Hi Debs thanks for your post. It is so difficult isn't it trying to explain how fatigue feels and its not just the fatigue that we have to contend with but also all the emotional side as well. I'm in awe of you studying...not sure I could do it. I wish you all the best with it. Rachel x

Fatigue is extremely debilitating and I would think your GP could help with this. If anyone lives near Basingstoke Headway I am doing a workshop on Fatigue and how to live a better life with it, in June which will be helpful for those who can attend

I feel your pain, I suffer from fatigue but tried to mow the grass earlier this week and didn't get very far at all. I'm admitting defeat now but can't afford to pay someone to do it for me. I did get a pamphlet on dealing with this but have been too fatigued to read it...

I have no info to offer but what I can say is how invaluable it is thatyour partner is realistic about his capacity. I railed against facing up to it and as a tesult have painted myself into a corner I now have to extricate myself and family from

NO WAY should he or others pressure him, or his overall performance at work and home, as well as state of mind will be compromised. Stand firm - it is an incontravertable reality.

The Act is quite vague isn't it! I found I got better beyond 24 months though not by much quite frankly.

My reading is that that Fatigue would count as a disability as it has a substantial and long term effect on ability to do stuff. Even as high functioning I have to push back things I want to or need to do as I simply run out of brain, for any given day/week/month

It all hangs on reasonable adjustment which is a vague thing, I have been looked after though I have had to explain a number of times. I can manage a day though not much else to be honest! and have to be careful with driving as I become unsafe to drive fairly quick on, and so on.

Other have been less luckily and been fired as the firm felt they couldn't adjust to them, which since it's a vague statement "reasonable adjustment" is difficult to argue.

Does his work not have a consultant Physiotherapist? Only asking, because usually, if you've been off work for sometime,the company would usually employ someone to assess your husband, and they can then tell employers just how much your husband can do , or not, as he case may be.

Good Luck.

The disability is PCS, fatigue is a symptom of it. The act doesn't define which disabilities are included or not, because it is their impact that employers have a duty to mitigate against and that varies from condition to condition and within that from person to person. So the thing to focus on is what impact the fatigue caused by the PCS has on your husband's ability to carry out his day to day work and what mitigation the employers should offer to accommodate it.

That might be reduced hours, rest periods in the day, a shorter working week, working from home etc.but can also include a change to a less demanding role. They must show a reasonable business case for not applying such changes which is easier in a small specialist organisation than a large corporate one (where a switch to eg a part time admin role in another dept is often a possibility).

Of course if they are unable to apply such mitigation as there is a business case against it, or you don't want to accept their mitigation proposal they may simply give notice to terminate the contract of employment. That is permissible as they have complied with their responsibilities within the Act.





A person (P) has a disability if—



P has a physical or mental impairment, and



the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on P's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities".

Speaking as a Lawyer and someone who has suffered ABI and fatigue go back to the definition as above; clearly its a mental impairment. Will it last longer than 12 months (so as to be a long -term effect) so as to have a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry our normal day to day activities.? I would say yes if my fatigue is anything to go by. The fact I have to sleep and am so exhausted to do anything must mean this.

Hope this helps

My son's Social Security Disability Insurance claim was recently approved here in the US. The deciding factor with the Judge seemed to be that my son needed more frequent rest breaks than an employer could provide. The fact that he was on 4 different prescribed medications, several of which listed drowsiness and fatigue as side effects, seemed to help make the case. An attorney turned out to be a good idea because we were looking at it from an entirely different angle. I thought, and still do, that the biggest reason he shouldn't work was that the stress was causing seizure episodes.

Agree it ( fatigue) does fall under the Act if you can show it is long term and has adverse effect as described above so I won't go over the ground others have covered.

Working from home could be seen as a reasonable adjustment. I too was a lawyer and negotiated this adjustment with my employer for me to be at home several days a week. I managed fine for several years.

I also a to travelled by taxi as I could no longer drive.

I did have to be in the office for meetings and certain projects and so on. I would not have been able to work permanently all week from home as it would not have been reasonable in the circumstances of my job.

However my condition worsened and it was agreed that I would take early retirement on health grounds. It's fair to say the fact that I had so called "expertise" in a particular area helped me to keep my job as I brought in a fair bit of dosh.

There is no short answer to your question as everyone is different.

If your husband is a member of a trades union then they should be able to offer specialised support and legal advice and representation.

There should be a staff handbook also.... and there should be an equality policy if it is a larger employer. Look at the procedures... what do they say for starters?

Thank you all for your support and perspectives. I feel from the responses that it can be seen as reasonable to expect the employer to treat my husbands current condition as if it falls under the Equalities Act. I appreciate that this, in the end, doesn't protect his role if the reality is they cannot make reasonable adjustments that fit the needs of the business but I hope he can get them at least on the same page as him and discussing reasonable adjustments instead of 'return to work.'

Thank you

I am just over 3 years post injury and the last time I was referred to OH through work, 2 years ago, they stated that, in their opinion, I would be covered under the disabilty act. The first time I went back to work I was expected to increase my hours every week and ended up off sick again. The srcond time they let me take it much slower. In the end though I had the ultimatum of being back full time or reducing my hours. I now have Wednesday off to break up the week, to help manage the fatigue.

Hi, I am now 11 months post accident and suffer with PCS too. I struggle with fatigue every day but went back to work after 7 months on a phased return starting 12 hours a week doing Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. The Neurologist I saw last November told me I would be back to 'normal' by 8 or 9 months. Anyway I'm not and I haven't been able to increase my hours at all yet. I had a meeting a couple of weeks ago with management and was told that the company expected an employer on a phased return to be back to full time work by 8 weeks. Consequently they have changed my contract now to part time, 12 hours a week.

It is really difficult especially if you have a pressurized job which I have and are expected to meet targets. It took a lot of effort just to get a 15 minute morning break put in place. I know the employer is supposed to make reasonable adjustments but in practice it doesn't always work. But at the end of the day your health comes first.

I do hope things work out okay for you both.

Best wishes x

Hi All

Just thought I would follow up my original post. We saw an OH doctor through my husband's employer last week. She confirmed that he falls under the Equalities Act with the fatigue and is advising his employer of this, recommended hours and has not committed to an arbitrary recovery time period for him. She also helped us move his referrals to a neurology team forward as our GP does't seem to have the knowledge about available support. He also re visited the neurologist he saw last year and she confirmed that she had expected a better recovery by now and again has helped by advising our GP where to refer him and copying the specialist in.

It is difficult to keep the medical support going as the GP is not equipped to provide on going care and so we are having to keep asking and sometimes don't know where to ask but these last two appointments have hopefully helped us get to see the right people.

Thanks for all your support guys.

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