Occupational Health Review

Hi all

I'm hoping that someone will be able to relate to my particular work situation and, perhaps, give me some advice.

I've just been moved into a job not by choice, and am being told it requires me to travel between 4 and 8 hours in a day to various meetings.

I have tried to explain that I will find this impossible with my RA condition, and that just travelling 2 hours to work full time each day is e trembly tiring for me.

So, they've asked me to have an Occupational Health Review - 20 minutes over the phone, so they can decide what to do with me.

I'm extremely worried because I've no idea what questions they are likely to ask. I'm so unsure what will be decided but feel as though this twenty minutes will shape the rest of my working life.

Should I be worried? I have worked so hard at keeping up with a full time job and I really don't want to lose any of this momentum but the travelling expectations is just too much for me. Will an OH person believe me? Will they need proof? They are paid by my employer so will they be looking to reduce any particular problems ie me?

My conversation is booked for this Thursday, so any thoughts you might offer before this would become extremely helpful.

Many thanks


31 Replies

  • Hi Linda

    I had similar problems with my employer. Unfortunately I left my job in August because I couldn't deal with the welfare officer any more to be honest she made my life hell !

    I wish I had the energy at the time to fight on as recommended by my union. If you are in a union get them on board from the start

    You could also speak to ACAS for advice. Seems unreasonable expecting you to make such a big change to your working day given your condition.

    Good luck

    Trish .

  • Morning Trish i agree with you it is easier to give in and leave than stay and fight,we have to fight everyday of our life without bosses making it harder than ever for us. We try to carry on like everything is normal and we look normal,but the truth is we aren't anmore we are chronically ill darling.xxxxxx

  • Sylvia

    I totally agree with you but I don't think I make it easy for bosses, because I don't like talking about how RA affects me. It feels like I'm moaning. And im not sure they actually believe me when I finally get to the point of saying something, which is so disappointing. It's as though the trust in a work relationship just disappears. And then I receive negative comments from more senior managers, via middle management. It's all very negative for me at the moment.

    I just wish they would read up about RA and think how they would cope in my shoes. But they don't even attempt to understand as it's not their job.

    I do sound bitter at the moment and I am angry and upset, which really doesn't help! I am tearful most days so it's definitely stressful, which isn't healthy either.

    Thanks for your comment.


  • Get some info from your hospital and get a report from the drs as well,then throw it in their faces.xxxxx

  • Hi Sylvi

    I really hadn't thought of that. Thank you - great idea.


  • As so many of us can testify if we can walk & talk RA is thought by most of the population to be a few aches & pains & if we don't have highly visible damaged joints we are thought to be making a fuss over nothing!l

    Resist all sorts of telephone interviews...if your employers insist, compose a written statement & as others have said do get the support of your Union & have all your medical "evidence" available in writing before you speak or meet with your employers. Your Union will have legal staff who will know what your employer is legally allowed to expect of you.

    I don't know how old you are, and it would be very easy to just walk away .....but as you are now working & your employer has no complaint about your present work record it should be possible to come to a conclusion that both you & your employer can live with.

    Good Luck Pole Dark

  • Unions are a great help with your every step.

    Take someone with you on every interview at work to take notes & if possible record your call to OH.

  • Hi Trish

    I do feel like I'm in a one man battle at the moment, so I'm hoping OHS will be supporting, but im not expecting anything - if that makes sense.

    So I'll ring ACAS today - I didn't realise they can help employees.

    I'll also join the union, if only to feel as though I have someone on my side.

    Many thanks


  • Hi, my advice, join a union, have a read of the disability act, join a union and join a union. We have lots of rights but we all need helping hand and sometimes without representation we can let our selves down. I know it's daunting but don't give up, get advice, and remember to join a decent union!!

    Good luck, keep us updated.


  • Do you know what Woody, I think I'll join the union! Yes, you've persuaded me. I don't want to lose any work status and am not ready to quit work altogether.

    Many thanks for the very sound advice.


  • Yes i have this at work with Occy health meetings, i have over the phone and in person meetings now last time with a Dr, who had good insight into pain caused by RA. I just tell them how it is when at it's worse and how it effects my job and what i can do and what i need support with. They do have to make reasonable adjustments under the equality Act which you will be covered under. make sure you have a read of the Act it will cover you.

    Write a list of what support you need and how they can meet you half way. NOT lots of driving, or changes to your job role to make it worse for you. I got my driving reduced to 30 minutes per journey.

    If they given you a new role you are unable to do it could be classed as constructive dismal. Hence get union.

    Union can help with strutureing your support too.

    Good luck .

  • Hi

    Thanks for writing

    Even though my OH review on Thursday morning went better than I'd expected, things happened at work after this which were too much for me to cope with, so I'm taking sick leave to try and get some rest.

    I realise now that I've not yet fully accepted my RA condition and am battling with myself as well as people at work. I need to come to terms with the fact I can't do certain things I'd really like to do. It's upsetting for me to even admit to myself that I have limitations now, let alone try and persuade managers who don't seem to want to know.

    I've been told that I'd need to be a union member for six months before they can provide any help - which will be far too late.

    Part of the problem is they can't yet tell me what my job is, just that it's challenging, will require long hours, travelling and a "can Do" mind set. So far, less than two weeks into the job, I feel like I don't fit - I'm at odds with it all. And it's devastating for me to cope with it all. There are just too many problems to face at the moment.

    So I'll see my doctor on Tuesday. Not sure what they can do for me though. The RA is here to stay. It's making me feel old before my time. I had hoped to stay in work another 10 years but if it's going to be so hard, it's not worth the stress and worry and potential damage to my body.

    I'm not in a great place to think clearer about anything. I just need to stop my head spinning and try to relax.

    Fighting battles is so much easier when they are someone else's and emotions don't get in the way!

    But thank you so much for the kind words.


  • Hi,I'm so sorry to hear the turmoil that you're in,but I completely understand what you're going through - I too thought I had a good 15 or more years working before I was hit with my illness,and as you've realised,it's extremely hard to cope with fighting your corner against people that don't want to know when you can't quite get your own head around how things have changed - it's almost like grieving for a life you once had,and learning to accept a new one,which at the moment is just so up in the air. I found it very helpful to speak to a counsellor for a couple of months in order to get my head around what was happening to me at what should have been the prime of my life,and after those sessions,it was amazing that I'd completely changed my mindset,and instead of beating myself up so much when I couldn't do things,I learned to concentrate on the things I could do,and count my blessings that way instead. It doesn't work for everyone,and I'm still amazed I did it as I'm usually such a private person,but it was getting to the point where I felt I was actually losing my mind with the constant battles and beating myself up - at the time it seemed like the lesser of two evils,and like I said,for me,it helped me when I needed help to understand myself most. It basically gave me the courage to think about my future again,and over time(18 months) I've gone from strength to strength,ok,I do still have bad times,but now I know it's not my fault that things are happening this way,so I tend to try and look at the brighter things around me instead - I definitely say it saved me from needing a straight jacket more than a couple of times!

    I truly hope you find the strength,and inner calm to help you through this awful time,and whenever you need an ear, or a shoulder,there are ALWAYS such kind and sincere people on here that will help pick you up when you need it.

    Warmest wishes

    Nicki x

  • This happened to me too

  • You will maybe find that you are covered by the Equality Act at work which has means employers have to make reasonable adjustments to your job because of your illness. Know what you mean about keeping your head down and just getting on with it because you don't want to feel like you're moaning. So hard. Good luck.

  • Hi woodstar1 I joined the union When my RA started my manager said she may have to let me go! I phoned the union and they said they can't do that. He said if they tried he would be up there guns blazing

    I went back to work after 3 OH meetings 9 months later. I also have a 15 page risk assessment for work. I work in residential care LD. 25 hours a week

  • Hi Karina

    Your experience at work sounds terrible, much worse than mine. I'm so glad you found some support and went back to work.

    But in my mind it really does put a strain on the individual with RA at a time when we have enough going on with adjusting to RA. Dare I say that the way we are treated by managers is almost inhumane?

    I have been doing so much reading over the last few days and somewhere it did say the Human Rights Act comes into play!

    I feel much stronger in my confidence now that I have read all these other experiences and have read so much about what should happen - from day one!!

    I hope there will come a time when it won't need to be a fight for people with RA. It's bound to be a growing issue with so many of us now expected to work well into our sixties. It's like they've not really thought this one though.

    Compared to yourself, I'm relatively brand new into my war, so it's good to hear a good outcome.

    Many thanks for contributing.


  • OH was supportive as the doctor put restrictions on the work I could And couldn't do. He also said that if my employer tried to ignore these restrictions to contact him. So he was protecting my well being. That's why the long risk assessment with my manager. The union was good for the legal side and also very supportive. The manager is still learning and needs reminding sometimes. But has made reasonable adaptions. I still struggle sometimes but cannot retire until 2020. Don't forget to claim PIP Good luck xx

  • Hi Kerina

    Sorry for spelling your name wrong last time.

    I'm gradually creating a picture of how these things work, or don't work, and any information is really useful for me at this stage, so thanks again.

    My OH Report came through yesterday, which says travel should be restricted to my journey to and from work. But I spoke to my manager this morning and their interpretation is different to mine. It sounds as though they still expect me to travel to meetings, but expect me to take the following day off as sick leave! I'm alarmed.

    So I also saw my doctor and explained my situation to him. He told me this is unlawful, as they can't intentionally make me sick. He told me to seek advice from the CAB.

    So I've just been to see them this morning. They tell me that Disability Discrimination is a very specialist subject area, and not them. So they suggested I get in touch with the Equality Advisory Support Service discrimination helpline. However, their guidance recommends I first contact the ACAS Helpline. So that's where I an at the moment.

    In my mind, if I can get them to understand my condition then the reasonable adjustments I require shouldn't be a problem. They haven't yet mentioned a Risk Assessment, but that's something else I'll be looking into now.

    Fortunately my doctor was very sympathetic and has given me an unfit for work note for the next week, to try and sort everything out, at least in my own head if not the heads of my managers.

    I think after a week I might be an expert on all the ins and outs of the Equality Act and Reasonable Adjustments etc It's a lot to take in.

    CAB also gave me a leaflet on claiming PIP. I hadn't considered this before so that'll be my next job, probably after Christmas.

    Thanks again


  • Join union ASAP I joined GMB they are very good. You may even get information on their web page. Good luck xx

  • Just tell them the truth and ask for a face to face appt as i feel that would be easier for you to get your points across darling. Hugs from me.xxxx

  • Occupational health should in theory be supportive to you. Their role is to provide you assistance to do your job not to tell your employer that you are not fit to work. Woody is right about the union though. You have a disease that effects your day to day life so therefore falls under the disability act.

  • Hi Ruth

    I do hope you are right and that I manage to put my case across comprehensively.

    I'm employed by DWP so you'd think they would be sympathetic to disabled employees but, in practice, they are just focussed on delivering good results to score points in their performance appraisals, to get promoted. Human nature I suppose. I'm now viewed as the weak link I think, even though I have years of experience and qualifications behind me.

    I have 9 years before I retire so I need to find a way to make this problem go away, or I can see myself continually at odds with managers.

    I'll contact the union today for help, and ring ACAS for advice. Might feel a bit better equipped then.

    Roll on the weekend!

    Thanks for your thoughts. It helps.


  • Hi,I also had a nightmare 18 months in work before I finally took redundancy(along with the rest of my team) because it was obvious they were doing anything to make my life hell. I'm more than one occasion I had to speak to the disability law service,and they even wrote me a letter for HR at one point,... that did the trick that time,and work were very careful on playing it by the book after that. I also found it was high level management that were the worst to me,so on the advice of the law service(all completely free) I got HR directors involved,and things definitely improved for the better once they were away of the situation - no more snidely comments from my line manager after that 😊 Whichever way,law society,union,you definitely need help from someone with bigger boots to fight your corner. Here's hoping you have a better and easier time than I did x

  • There is some useful information on the duties of an employer in regard to disability in a booklet from NRAS - have a look on the website and you can order one or download it.

    If you know what you rights are, it's easier to fight to get them. But you are entitled to reasonable adjustments to your working conditions.

  • I really wish you luck, and please come back and tell us how you get on. I have just had to give up my job after finding I just couldn't cope with the commute plus extended working hours and increasing pressure to be on call 24/7. I have had to sell our home and move out of London, but am lucky to be able to effectively retire 10 years early and survive. I hope with union support you can sort things out.

  • Just been through a similar situation. My boss decided to change my job, I had the union on board. I had months of misery and loads of tears and frustration. I had occupational health assessment done but went to see them not telephone one. She was really good and her opinion was I was managing my condition well, some of my attendance problems shouldn't be counted cos of RA. I still had to change my job. So far managing ok but still early days. The union were not much help.

    Patsy 57

  • Hi I also worry loads about my job and still being a valuable member of staff 😢 There s a really good downloadable document on the nras website called something like how to be an employer of someone with RA and there s a similar one for how to remain in employment with RA. I gave a copy to my boss as soon as I was diagnosed and it was the best thing I could have done. She came straight up to me and said with depth and emotion "Gosh it s bad this isn't it? It s not just creaky bones" Good luck with the call. You should be covered to some extent by the equalities act and may even need a risk assessment for work. I have one and it states things like I can use the disabled parking space and things like that. I def believe being honest is best then you can get support. I also get access to work support from DWP which is a great help. Xx

  • Hi

    I really appreciate your thoughts. I'm hoping good things will come from this review but my hopes of my management team actually understanding my illness are much less.

    I have work place adjustments already - a raised desk and very expensive chair and, as a result, nobody else is supposed to sit there, we we hot desk. Yesterday I arrived into work and my manager's, manager's manager was sat there! I don't know if it was malicious but she knows the rules as she made a fuss about moving as soon as I arrived. That was awkward.

    But, I think I'm ready for the 20 minute review this morning. As you say, I'll just be honest as it's an awful condition to have.

    Thanks again for writing


  • Hi

    Just to let you all know how the occupational health review went this morning.

    It was scheduled for just 20 minutes but after 45 minutes the interviewer said she had run out of time. Afterwards I did think of other aspects of work expectations I wish I'd mentioned, like being expected to work through lunch breaks or long into the night, if business required this.

    However, I was so relieved that she was totally on my side and she gave me loads of useful advice on who to contact for further help and how to manage my managers.

    I think the managers I work with will be in for quite a shock but it's clear from what I've been told that DWP don't have a good track record of respecting disabled workers, so I'll definitely need legal support in the future as they tend to forget agreed adjustments quite quickly.

    She also advised me to keep a diary of the times when managers are disrespectful. There have been three in the past week alone!

    I just hope her report will make a positive difference, but I suppose I will need to wait and see.

    So, many thanks for all your thoughts and suggestions. I didn't feel as though I was entirely on my own knowing that so many other people have the same problems.


  • Joining a union is a good idea although some specify that you need to be a member and have paid your subs for at least six months before they will assist, however, it will be worth joining in case you need them at a later date. I would push for a face to face meeting with Occupational Health and take someone along with you. Good luck!

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