Reasonable adjustments

Hi guys, I'm after advice, I'm an operational prison officer working for HMP for the last 20 years with no sick record at all. I was diagnosed with RA in 2014 and with meds have it almost under control but my shift pattern is rubbish, it's a 54 week pattern, every week different and I'm struggling with 13 hour days or early and lates and no rest days and every week different, I'm after continuity. The thing is I work for a "big firm" who talk the talk but they don't really help, it seems they tow the line for show. Any advice as to approach my employer would be great fully appreciated. Thanks again.

12 Replies

  • Hi

    It's a hard one. I think you probably have to build a case based on a need for regular rest & the opportunity to establish a good sleep pattern, eat regularly etc etc - pointing out that having these may be what allows you to keep working. (And keep 20 years of valuable experience inside the service.) You would need to emphasise the negative effects your current shift pattern has on your RD and the positives for HMP of keeping you at work.

    The big issue is what your employer defines as 'reasonable' - Occupational Health may well be more helpful and knowledgeable here than your line manager. Have you been seen by them? My experience of large organisations is that Occ Health tends to have the authority to dictate what is 'reasonable' so it's good to have them onside. Are you in a union? If so, your union rep should be helpful and may have experience with other POs in a similar situation to yourself.

    The flip side of all this is that your hoped-for adjustments may well have a knock on effect for other peoples' shift patterns and, on balance, the decision might be that you can't get (all) of what you want because of the result being 'unreasonable' for them. It would be worth asking for a copy of HMP's sickness/equality/disability policies to try to get a handle on what they say they'll do for you. As an employee you are entitled to access these documents. It would probably also be good to decide exactly what it is you want to ask for and plan a case that answers any possible objections.

    Are you aware of anyone else who has special arrangements? If they already accommodate other people it should be easier to push for what you need.

    I did shift work for a lot of years & am so glad to be out of it now. Going from a late to an early was awful but the alternative 'long days' were awful too. Looking back, I don't really know how I managed - you have my sympathy. I hope you are able to get something worked out.

  • Thanks, that has given me loads of ideas. I think I shall ask to see occupational health again, I've seen them twice and have been really helpful towards my situation. We do have a few staff on different hours due to childcare issues but assume they aren't permanent adjustments unlike my situation. If I get the backing of occy health I will submit an application and get our union rep to accompany me. Thanks again.

  • Good advice. The union could be important help

  • Hi, I also work for government. I agree that occupational health and fed rep is the way to get help. I've 20 years with pretty good sick record too but have struggled to get RA under control since being diagnosed last year. Your rep will be versed on all the policies and procedures. Good luck!!

  • I'm struggling with a similar issue - for me the occupational health recommendations of adjustments were not carrying the weight I had expected them to do, but that has changed since I brought in my union rep. I hope things turn out well for you.

  • For a start get as much info before you approach your employer. Go on the goverment website and print off as much info that is relevant to you. Go on other sites as well as your employers website so you have some ammo to throw at them if they stat being funny with you. Also put together a work plan that would suit you so they know that you have thought it through very carefully. Write as much down as you can including your illness and any others you may have. Look at what would happen if they can't accomadate as well and know what your rights are regarding you worklife as well.xxxx

  • Hi... I work for a University and I advised them from the start about my JIA. Every time I've been to see my consultant I update the Occ Health department and the Head of Department. A couple of months ago we am were informed that the department was going to relocate and the building they were suggesting was one of the most inaccessible buildings on campus. After much worry and anxiety, I had a meeting with occ health, college management and health and safety and we have come up with a plan including reasonable adjustments eg: office location, power assisted doors etc. I know it's not the same prob as you have but by keeping management and occ health and HR in the loop I think as a large employer they would find it difficult not to support you in view of the fact that what you are asking for isn't a big issue and is an adjustment which will help you carry on and work there. Having the dialogue is the first step. Do you have a good Occ Health team? It's in both parties interest to resolve it amicably 😊....

  • Hi. Access to work can visit your work & look at what adjustments can be made. I had them out & they advised my employer of what reasonable adjustments they should make


  • How to approach? with an advocate of some kind (either union, or a specific disability advocate). It seems to make people take it more seriously if you have someone else with you in any discussions or meetings, even if your advocate doesn't actually say anything.

  • NRAS have some publications that might help, including a booklet specifically for employers explaining the problems of RA. Worth looking online, and you can get hard copies free. M x

  • HI woodstar1,

    I have put the links to our publications on work for you. One is for the employee and one for the employer:

    Hope these help,


    Beverley (NRAS Helpline)

  • You should look at what I had to do! I had similar bosses, but smaller firm. I will try and get back to you privately, as this isn't for public consumption so to speak. But briefly, "Brief" being the operative word (He's my legal advisor) I intend to shake the very foundations of their unadapted, non -adjusted ivory tower and put one out there for the loyal, disabled employee with no voice.

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