Advice / experience of accessing workplace adjustments - NRAS

NRAS

33,902 members42,079 posts

Advice / experience of accessing workplace adjustments

virtualreality profile image
39 Replies

Hello, I'm wondering if anyone might have advice or experience to share around workplace adjustments due to RA symptoms and/or medication side effects please.

I've been working remotely in my current job since starting in the role a couple of years ago - as has the entire team - but work patterns are changing and we are moving to a blended model involving some face-to-face work and some remote.

This presents a few challenges for me at the moment because face-to-face means a lengthy commute by public transport (a train and 2 buses, 2.5 hours each way) and working in shared and public-facing workspaces. I was diagnosed with RA last year and after a couple of treatment escalations the symptoms still aren't under control and I have quite significant fatigue, some of which I suspect is medication-related. I've got stuck on steroids because the RA proved quite resistant to the DMARDs, but need to taper as fast as sensibly possible because a recent DEXA scan showed loss of bone density. Based on experience so far I'm expecting to feel worse before I feel better over the next few months or so with that. Obviously there's also immunosuppression to consider, which concerns me primarily because my treatment and symptoms aren't yet stable, so if I were to get ill and have to pause medication it would interrupt already patchy and limited progress. I really don't want to have to take more medical leave after a having a very rough time and several months off work around diagnosis, and can't financially afford for that to happen either.

Bit of a long story, sorry! My doctor's advised reduced hours (which I'm doing) and not to do the travelling for the next few months and documented this on a fit note. Work have communicated that they won't permit 100% remote working as a temporary adjustment until things are more stable. Apparently the decision was based on workplace need and didn't take my medical situation and documents into account. It doesn't feel to me like the process has been consistent with the equality act, but I'm no expert on that and wasn't in the room when it was discussed. I've tried to explore the decision further with my line manager to understand the thinking behind it but she's just said there has to be limits to adjustments and that's it. Wish someone would tell RA that!!

Can I challenge this, do you think? I love my job and would dearly love to jump back into it full pelt, but the last 18 months or so have been brutal and the thought of taking backward steps at this point from overdoing things or getting ill, when every little improvement has been so hard-won, fills me with dread. Any thoughts or advice would be very welcome.

39 Replies
MadBunny profile image
MadBunny

Im sorry to hear about your problems. My situation was very different to yours as I was a teacher, so no remote working. And of course, all situations and workplaces are different.I had an initial meeting with the local authrity's HR department, to discuss my needs and they made recommendations to the Head. I was fortunate to have a good union rep to support me, too.

If I may say, I dont like the sound of how you've been treated. At the least, I would have thought you should be involved in discussions about what adjustments need to be made. Your health is a private and personal matter, surely?

I personally would want to challenge it.I dont know anything about the Equality Act so can't comment . But the fact they say the decision was made on ' workplace needs' doesnt sound right to me.

NRAS might be able to help and I know they used to have some useful literature about employment.

Let us know how you get on x

virtualreality profile image
virtualreality in reply to MadBunny

Thank you, I really appreciate your reply and that's a great shout to see if NRAS can offer any advice. Will add to the post as the situation evolves - I don't suppose I'm the only one with these sorts of challenges so it might help someone else as well.

MadBunny profile image
MadBunny

Sorry - forgot to say, I always took someone (non management) in with me when discussing anything like this . Sorry to state the obvious🤗

virtualreality profile image
virtualreality in reply to MadBunny

Not at all! I tend to be very trusting and not bother with having someone with me so the point is well-taken!

MadBunny profile image
MadBunny in reply to virtualreality

I learned from experience to do that🤗

KittyJ profile image
KittyJ

NRAS do some good publications you can download and also to give to your employer. You definitely need to get advice/help to discuss this with your employer. Sorry I can’t be more help as it was a long time ago I navigated all this myself. 🤞🏻 For you

nras.org.uk/resource/an-emp...

99Michelle profile image
99Michelle

I understand that your doctor has written their recommendations on a fit note but have you had an occupational heath referral at work? When I was going through this I had a referral to OH at work and they were brilliant. I spoke to a nurse over the phone who went through all my issues and medical history and wrote a report for work. I also had a visit from someone to asses my workspace and see if I needed any physical adjustments, I now have a special chair and an ergonomic mouse. I work for a high street bank and part of our role is to cover at other branches but I was struggling with the travelling. She wrote in the report that I should only work at my main branch and work have to follow the recommendations made. We are covered under the disability discrimination act, I also used a leaflet for employers that I got from rheumatology. So if you’ve not had one already definitely request a referral. Good luck

MichMx profile image
MichMx in reply to 99Michelle

I completely agree. Occupational Health have also been really useful for me too. Would recommend a referral.

virtualreality profile image
virtualreality in reply to 99Michelle

Thank you, it is good to hear how your situation was handled, mine is quite similar in some ways. I had an OH assessment back in July, partly because of the change to blended working, and their advice was that I was able to do my job with the adjustments in place (which were adjusted workload and hours, and working from home). I raised the report with my line manager after this latest decision was communicated, but she said that they don't have a legal obligation to follow OH recommendations. Which kind of begs the question why have an OH report done in the first place...

strongmouse profile image
strongmouse in reply to virtualreality

As I understand it the legal requirement is for your employer to make "reasonable adjustments". They have a right to expect the requirements of the job fulfilled. I would certainly ask what part of the work has changed that now requires you to be in the office.

Citizens Advice Bureau have some information on this - citizensadvice.org.uk/law-a...

virtualreality profile image
virtualreality in reply to strongmouse

thank you

RUSTY750 profile image
RUSTY750

nras.org.uk/product/an-empl...

rosieglows profile image
rosieglows

acas.org.uk/reasonable-adju...

Hi Virtualreality

Sorry that your employer isn’t prepared to make adjustments for you. I do believe you have a strong case, particularly as you are asking for a temporary adjustment backed by medical advice and it’s obviously a work pattern that they can accommodate with low cost as they have done so previously.

The crux of the matter, though (and what they gamble on) is whether you are prepared to fight them on it. Please do visit the ACAS website. You can make further representation to them, officially or unofficially. You could take them to a tribunal. It does occur to me that a union if you can join one, maybe able to help. And since you have a fit note, you could go off sick - but I don’t know if you benefit from OSP.

Have you approached your request officially yet? I think getting the refusal to make the requested adjustment in writing maybe useful. And may give you an opportunity to appeal. Or you may reach a compromise solution.

I am no expert - it may be worth getting in touch with an employment lawyer who can advise you about the likelihood of success at a tribunal and possible outcomes. You can then make a more informed decision about what you should do.

I do hope that you get a satisfactory conclusion. It is a very difficult situation to be in.

virtualreality profile image
virtualreality in reply to rosieglows

Thank you, these are all very helpful suggestions. You and a few others have suggested putting the request in writing so I think I need to do that as a first step. I've been trying to keep conversations informal and it's been an amicable process so far (even if stressful at times for me!). It's a large organisation, so coupled with it being a request for a temporary adjustment that reflects prior working patterns (and ongoing, as the blended model includes remote working) it is hard to see how it would significantly compromise business function - though of course I don't know all of the factors at play from a management perspective. Fingers crossed!

HappykindaGal profile image
HappykindaGal

Hi, I’m an employer and have RA. I’d absolutely challenge it as I don’t think they’ve entirely understood your situation here. It sounds to me as if the big challenge is the commute and if you’re able to communicate this to them I’m sure they will reconsider. Perhaps by promoting what you achieve for the company by home working against how much less you will achieve following the exhaustion just to access the office. Facts around performance may be what’s required here and unless they’re idiots (and I’m not ruling that out!), they will see it’s to their advantage for you to remain as a virtual worker.

What’s their view on why they want people back into the office environment? If it’s a creative business I can kind of understand it to some extent, but even then, many agencies work entirely remotely.

Personally, I’d take a soft approach rather than bandying around ACAS and legislation at this point as as sure as eggs are eggs, they will clam up and it won’t end well as your life will become miserable and the job untenable.

Find out why they feel it’s important for you to be there first- what the reasoning is behind it and if they really do understand the challenge you face.

Hope it works out for you ♥️♥️

virtualreality profile image
virtualreality in reply to HappykindaGal

Thank you so much, I really appreciate you sharing your perspective on the situation as an employer - that's exactly what I need to understand better. I love my job and like the organisation too, so the last thing I want to do is risk burning bridges over this.

It's a great point about productivity, because that would definitely be affected by the travel as things stand at the moment. I've already had to reduce my hours, and reducing further to try to accommodate the travel would result in less work produced (and wouldn't be financially viable for me, although that's not my employer's problem).

There is a legitimate reason for wanting staff on site some of the time, but limited demand at the moment (this new model is only just starting up) - and nothing that I'm solely responsible for that wouldn't get done with me working remotely. That is definitely something I could ask more about to better understand their rationale though. I was hoping that as we're in a transitional phase and the request was just for a temporary adjustment that the medical advice I've been given could be accommodated, but it is worth exploring further. Longer-term I'd actively like to be working on site some days - there are lots of positives to my mind - it is just while my medical situation is so unsettled and I've got a harsh steroid taper coming that it's beyond me to do more than I currently am.

Thanks again for your thoughts and advice, so helpful. Fingers crossed!

HappykindaGal profile image
HappykindaGal in reply to virtualreality

if you love your job, definitely a softly softly approach. And the early months of RA are punishing. I believe that once they understand they will be ok. Have they seen you since having RA as they may assume you're still their vision of you pre RA days and not as you currently are?

If they don't have an OH department, they could refer you to a consultant OH which is what I do. That may be an option down the road?

virtualreality profile image
virtualreality in reply to HappykindaGal

I've tried to be really open about my medical situation but you're right, perhaps further explanation is needed - RA is a difficult condition to understand if you don't have it or live with someone who does. I was sent for an OH assessment in July in anticipation of these changes, and their advice was that I could do my job with the adjustments in place (adjusted hours, workload and working from home). When I asked about that my line manager said there isn't a legal obligation to follow OH advice... so I guess they've decided not to. It doesn't sound right to me - the assessment was done at my employer's request - but I don't know the legalities. Hopefully there's scope for more of a conversation about it.

HappykindaGal profile image
HappykindaGal in reply to virtualreality

They are correct. It’s advice and if the business needs will be negatively effected in their opinion, then it doesn’t have to be taken. Which is why it’s better to try and work something out amicably as I know from an employers view, being antagonistic is only likely to make me dig my heels in and question the longer term relationship.

Hollyhock123 profile image
Hollyhock123

Hi, definitely ask more questions. I would go through the HR department, check their written policies and procedures to follow. Request an Occupational Health referral and take to that any GP, consultant info. Hope you find a workable solution.

virtualreality profile image
virtualreality in reply to Hollyhock123

Thank you, yes I wondered if HR might be the route to go to find out more about process and procedure because my line manager's given me her answer and I don't want to push further without understanding better how the decision was made. I've had an OH assessment and their advice was to continue with current adjustments, but apparently there's not a legal obligation for the employer to follow that advice.

Charlie_G profile image
Charlie_G

My professional background is as a qualified HR officer, and my last role included the occupational health and absence management remit for a company with 600 employees. It’s difficult to give you specific advice without knowing the exact details of what you do and the organisation you work for, but hopefully the below will be helpful to your situation.

As others have rightly said, you would be considered disabled under the equality act. This affords you certain legal protections to ensure you’re not discriminated against and treated unfairly as a result of your disability, and your employer does have a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments as appropriate. However, what employees have to understand is that doesn’t mean an employer has to agree to do what’s requested, even if that adjustment has been recommended by a medic. When talking about whether an adjustment is reasonable, what’s looked at - and what a tribunal panel would look at - is whether the adjustment is reasonable to the organisation and business need. You working remotely may be medically recommended, but if your employer can demonstrate that it doesn’t meet business need and would place the organisation at a disadvantage, then they can entirely legally refuse the request.

It may sound harsh, but very few people seem to understand that although they’re the people management function, HR exists entirely to meet business need. That’s it, that’s what we’re there for. To you, your health is understandably the priority, but to your employer, the business is the priority, and whilst a decent HR officer will try to find the middle ground wherever possible, that’s where HR’s focus will ultimately always be. Whilst we often empathise on a personal level with various situations, professionally, if an employee said to me my 2.5 hour journey via public transport is a problem because of my health, it wouldn’t factor into my decision making around reasonable adjustments. Purely because the EA does not require me to make exception for your transport needs to and from the office, as that’s considered external to work, and therefore your responsibility. If it was travel in relation to work within the day, that would be different, but even then, if travel was a core element of your job, then it might be legally reasonable to refuse adjustments in relation to this. The other factor to keep in mind is that just because something has been happening for the last couple of years, that doesn’t mean it would automatically be considered reasonable for it to continue going forward. Changes to working patterns as a result of covid are still considered exceptional circumstances rather than natural changes to working practice.

For me, the crux of the issue here boils down to whether or not remote working is reasonable for the job you do, taking into account your job description, the size and type of the organisation you work for, and what the potential cost (financial and otherwise) would be to your employer. You haven’t mentioned occupational health: do work have an OH provider, in-house or externally, that they refer staff to? Again, just because a recommendation comes from OH, that doesn’t mean it has to be followed through on, but employers will generally look more favourably on a report from OH than a GPs fit note.

As others have said, if you haven’t formally made the request in writing, I would advise you to do so, asking your employer to also respond in writing, but keeping in mind that the legal threshold is what’s reasonable for the business. I’ve had letters sent to managers in the past talking about the EA and breaches of statutory obligation, and all it actually does is get the managers’ backs up. In the event they come back refusing the request and you’re still not satisfied with the explanation and justification given, in the interim, I would suggest putting a call into ACAS and discussing your case with them whilst you wait for the response. ACAS offer free and impartial advice to both employers and employees on all aspects of employment law and employee relations issues. Hopefully you won’t have to, but if you did end up taking your employer to tribunal due to disability discrimination, ACAS would have to mediate the situation before it could be taken any further.

virtualreality profile image
virtualreality in reply to Charlie_G

Thanks Charlie_G , that's so helpful and I really appreciate you sharing your expertise. It helps to understand that business need takes precedence from a legal perspective. That's the bind I'm in, in a way - I love my job and like working for the organisation so the last thing I want to do is take a heavy-handed approach. It's just a question of how to navigate some sort of balance between the employer's need and likely impact on my health - having staff off sick doesn't meet business need either. I've only asked for a temporary adjustment because of current symptoms and medication changes (longer-term I'd actively like to be on site more).

To respond to your question about OH, yes I had an OH assessment in July with the upcoming change in mind and they advised I was able to fulfil my duties with the adjustments in place at the time (adjusted hours, workload, working from home). I've been advised that the employer doesn't have a legal obligation to follow OH report, which echoes what you've said. Since then I've formally reduced my contractual hours because I wasn't able to complete a phased return back to full-time, so that's no longer an adjustment.

One question in relation to your advice to put a request in writing - from your perspective is that better sent to my own line manager, or to HR? So far conversations about my medical situation have been mainly verbal, amicable, and with my line manager directly, though I did query this latest decision with her by email. I'm thinking about what you wrote about how these kinds of queries may be perceived and looking to take the path of least antagonism.

Flinda profile image
Flinda in reply to virtualreality

I fully understand the HR perspective on this - their loyalty is with the managers and the business and not the individual employee's issues. Please do not consider HR Managers are there to help you - they aren't.

You might want to keep everything informal, light touch, non-assertive etc but, at the end of the day this is a battle; you and your legal rights against the organisation.

They made this decision knowing full well that you would find it very difficult (if not impossible) to travel. They knew this, so they do not have your best interests at heart. They will be expecting you to raise issues. They will have already considered how they will respond. I don't believe anything you do or say will change their stance at this point. Conversations about your situation will have been had without your input or knowledge and HR/Legal advise will have been sought - before telling you the decision.

You have shown that it is possible to fulfill your duties by working from home, so this is an entirely reasonable adjustment, unless they have also decided to change your job role in some way, also without any discussion with you.

This looks to me like a blanket management decision which will have some underlying business justification. When making decisions, they have a duty of care to all employees. They cannot force you to do something which will make you ill!!

So, on the face of it, it looks like they are prepared to lose you and, having made that decision, they want to minimise the cost/disruption to the business of you leaving. They can't tell you this but how else can you interpret their refusal to make accommodations?

You need to be strong and face up to this reality. It's happened to so many of us and, we just give up. Please don't just give up, but stand up for your rights as a disable employee. Read up on the leading case law to get a feel for how the judges interpret the law. It might seem brutal and scary but that's where you are, right now. The phasing you out process has begun. Don't stand for it - fight for your rights.

I loved my job, my profession, my colleagues etc with the same organisation for over 25 years - until they (who knows who made the decision and when?!) decided I was no longer required. It happens to older employees all the time so it should be no surprise that older and disabled employees are at risk. There's plenty of stats around to support this.

Having gone through the ordeal, I would now advise:

1. Seek legal help and prepare to file Employment Tribunal Case (within 3 months of the manager's decision). I bought a book on the Employment Tribunal Process which was extremely helpful and written to support you, the novice employee. After reading this I asked for a legal opinion via my union. Until then, my reps hadn't mentioned any legal advice and didn't know about the Tribunal process (eg the 3 month deadline).

2. Keep records of everything on a daily basis and request a SAR of all your employment records, held by all employees and on the systems. Get copies of all the relevant company policies and procedures which both managers and employees are expected to follow. You might also need a copy of your contract of employment and any other contractual agreements (which could be in a staff handbook on line).

3. Request another OH Review, so the advice is as current as it can be.

4. Start the grievance process against the management decision, but don't expect any good result and do expect the process to be delayed. This will not prevent you also submitting an Employment Tribunal Case at the same time. The ET Court will acknowledge your application and probably decide to allow any internal process to proceed, but at least you have met the ET deadline. Before going directly to submit your case to an ET, you must first approach ACAS. At this point the 3 month clock stops. Once the ACAS process is complete, they issue you with a certificate to proceed to an ET application.

5. Your claim will take the form of quite a few discriminatory issues = Constructive dismissal (but only if you decide to quit if you find you have no choice), failure to put in place reasonable adjustments and discrimination arising from a disability.

5. Start looking for another job elsewhere, nearer to home. This will look favourably to any Judge. Keep records. It will help your case even if you're unable to find alternative part time work, because you did try and your behaviours were intentional.

6. Be clear in your own mind that you are protected by the law. Reading through past cases definitely helped me to understand the lengths to which employers are expected to go. Otherwise, they'd be happy to dismiss anyone who appeared harder or more costly to manager, for the sake of the business.

7. Log how this has impacted you personally, and be honest. Compare how things would have been without RA and all the issues that come with RA (if this is possible). Take even more time off as sick leave if you need to, that's part of your contract of employment and you're entitled to take it, especially if it's been caused by your employer's actions/decisions. If it's "Stress caused by work" record it as such.

There's probably so much more but I think that's long enough!

virtualreality profile image
virtualreality in reply to Flinda

It sounds like you went through a truly awful experience, thank you for sharing your wisdom and advice. It's very disappointing and worrying to find myself in this position, but it helps to know more about what to be aware of and what needs consideration.

Deeb1764 profile image
Deeb1764

firstly download info on NRAS website to send to work plus maybe call then they are a font of knowledge on this front. Also maybe Access to Work might be worth looking at too.

Flinda profile image
Flinda

My employer transferred me into a position and then told me I was expected to travel to another office 2 to 2 times a weeks, which would take two trains and a taxi each way over 3 hours! Like yourself, this was impossible for me, either on a permanent basis or a temporary basis. The fatigue of all that travel just after one day would leave me bed ridden for the next day, if not a lot longer.

After an OH Review, they agreed to no travel as a rule and allowed me to take the next day as sick leave on the odd occasion I was required to travel. Success, I thought. Nope!

So, I ended up working in the office, on my own in a new job and with very little telephone contact and virtually no face to face contact (to learn the job!) from my managers or team. No adjustments along these lines were thought necessary.

Eventually, I twigged that all was not right. Senior managers were not happy with my non-compliance with their plans and so isolated me in every way possible. After 30 years of high performance, I was put on an Improvement Plan. I should have seen the signs much earlier than I did but managers kept telling me they were there to support me. This just wasn't true - they were undermining my ability to succeed.

It was an extremely upsetting few months but I finally took sick leave as I couldn't cope with the stress. I took union advice but the situation didn't improve. The career I loved was gone and my personnel record looked awful.

I followed policies and procedures to raise a grievance and appeal, but the managers were not independent as they all worked together in the same office - the one I couldn't travel to.

Everything was extremely hopeless - I really did feel like an outcast.

I did eventually take them to a tribunal but the case was struck off because I didn't raise my case with them soon enough.

I'm just so glad it's all behind me now. I decided to retire at 60.

I'm telling you this because it can all go horrible wrong.

I read so many successful cases which went through the tribunals. You have a very good case of Constructive Dismissal if they are asking you to do something which you physically can't. You have medical opinion as evidence. Your case is strong.

f you, like me, try to make it work and try to give your bosses the benefit of the doubt, you risk losing any protections the Equality Act gives you, as you need to register any case with a tribunal within 3 months of the first decision being made. After this time, the Judge will just rule your case "out of time".

My union never mentioned this to me and my Grievance/Appeal process took my employers nearly a year to manage. Yes, it was supposed to follow strict deadlines but I've heard time and time again of people's grievances being delayed, so that the case isn't lodged with an Employment Tribunal in time.

So please, know you can raise a case and don't let them delay you. The outcome of the case could be anything, even a better job outcome for you, with the same employer.

The 3 months period after the management decision is made is absolutely critical.

It might seem adversarial but they are leaving you with very little option.

We must start to use our protected rights more and stand up to employers.

Hope everything works out.

Amnesiac3637 profile image
Amnesiac3637

So sorry you’ve been going through the mill with your employers. I was lucky with mine - I worked for the NHS as a senior orthopaedics sister and then in Public Health and was treated very sympathetically and with no caveats. I went through all the channels with HR. OH and Access to Work and all went smoothly. Mind you, you would hope that would be the case in the NHS tho not always…….

There’s been some really helpful advice on here, particularly from Charlie_G and other very knowledgeable people so I can’t add anything except to make a comment on how those of us with RA are seen in the workplace.

Colleagues, most of them, are really great and will help where they can. Employers, if you get good ones, will try their hardest to make life at work bearable but there’s no standard treatment for those of us often in significant pain, putting on a brave face and being there when we’re really not coping. The invisibility of our disease is sometimes a curse very hard to bear.

RA may not kill you but it can take your life in so many ways as we who have it know only too well. It’s a great pity that the general public has very little conception of how you can be affected so we have to continue to jump (hah) through hoops to be given the same consideration as those with visible afflictions or disease. Just saying. Do hope it’s all resolved for you in the most amicable way possible and you get all the support due to you as soon as possible.

virtualreality profile image
virtualreality in reply to Amnesiac3637

Thank you so much, I'm glad you had a good experience and rightly so. As it happens it's RA awareness week I understand this week, so maybe I can try a little awareness-raising myself!

Amandaazz profile image
Amandaazz

Yes, challenge this. RA is a protected condition under the Equality Act. You should be referred to Occupational Health. If they are a small company, they can engage an Occupational Health co. I would talk to ACAS for advice, then go back to HR, skip your line manager. If you have been employed for over 2 years, you have more employment rights. If you were to take them to an employment tribunal, they would have to prove how and what they have done to support you and evidence this plus give evidence that they have followed their own policies and procedures. They would also need to evidence why they weren't able to put in adequate reasonable adjustments. If they have set a presidence of doing something before, but have changed this to your detriment, they have to prove why they can't do it now. Settling a presidence is a mighty tool in this sort of thing!

virtualreality profile image
virtualreality in reply to Amandaazz

Thanks Amanda, your reply makes me think of a couple of things that might well be relevant to my situation.

The first is that I've been employed there for nearly two years but not quite, and my line manager has said to me that if I were to get to the two year mark I'd have more employee rights (and not in the sense of informing, more concern for how that would affect their handling of my health situation). So I wonder if that is a factor.

The other is setting a precedent - I hadn't thought of that, but of course it's a consideration from the employer perspective. I've been open and honest and the conversations I've had with my manager have been very amicable so far - I think she's sympathetic to my situation on a personal level. But I wonder if the organisation is mindful that any adjustment they may make for me would set a precedent they'd have to honour in comparable situations in the future. Perhaps it would help to be more specific about my circumstances (for instance, I have multiple long-term health conditions and they interact with the RA) so that it's really clear why the new working arrangements present such a challenge for me at the moment.

It's a large organisation with OH support, and I've had an OH assessment that advised continuation of the current adjustments (including working from home), but they have chosen not to follow that advice - I understand that there isn't a legal requirement to do so.

Thanks again, lots to think about here!

WickedWeaver profile image
WickedWeaver

Hi,

I have only ever responded to two other posts before, but I did feel compelled to throw in my own wee experience. I used to work for a Local Authority in the East of Scotland, happens to be the third largest in Scotland. I was middle management. I had been diagnosed with osteoarthristis but not yet with sero-negative RA, that came only a few years after the situation that I'm about to write about. I had all the symptoms of RA but was going through a LOT of tests and was on a lot of various painkillers and NSAIDS so on, so the RA was being unintentionally attended to though not directly so not thoroughly.

There were a lot of other council staff working throughout a lot of venues, most of them close to their homes as this was one of the efforts of the council to be 'Green' another effort was had been the introduction of working from home. Both needed to be with the granted after an application made to management. I made those applications, justifiying the requests with my health and was supported by the councils own Occupational Health, the Union and all of the relevant council policies.

I even brought in Access to Work as a potential funder for any extra costs. I should have realised something when absolutely nobody in the whole management team of my department had even heard of Access to Work and we are talking extremely highly paid people responsible for well over 300 staff, yup disability was really, really just ignored.

To cut this long story short, I ended up taking the Council to Tribunal, and because they realised that I was going to win , the day after the tribunal, just before the official and public decision the management offered me a settlement on condition that I would just shut up and resign, never to even talk to anyone that I knew from the council ever again. I did take the settlement, even though it was less than I would have gotten from the tribunal, but to be honest I too didn't want that publicity. I had my own future to think about and future employers would have possibly raised an eyebrow, or two. I ended up self-employed, with severe RA, but happier,... far, far happier.

I know employers are mean to be 'woke' to health, disability, and adjustments etc., but most of them aren't,or don't want to be. What I would suggest is get to know and be comfortable with your legal rights, but also present every solution to every possible scenario, also never ever to go any meeting to discuss your situation by yourself. It also wouldn't do any harm to look at what is needed for a tribunal, I represented myself, but the panel were 'user' friendly. I truly hope that you will never have to go down that path, but by having the knowledge of that process it can give you support when you are negotiating. It's harder to bully somebody who has less fear.

Good Luck, WW

virtualreality profile image
virtualreality in reply to WickedWeaver

Thanks for stepping into the conversation WickedWeaver , I'm very grateful for you sharing your experience and advice. You're right, I do need to inform myself, even if only to fully understand the situation. That in itself will help me to navigate it as well as I possibly can. Honestly though, the prospect is a little wearying when I already feel quite overloaded just keeping up with life! But needs to be done. Thank you again.

Hannah-NRAS profile image
Hannah-NRASAdministrator

Hi virtualreality,

I am sorry to hear of the difficulties you are facing in work at the moment. It's always a juggling act between the organisation's obligation to provide reasonable adjustments and to still operate efficiently, this can involve compromise from both parties. An Occupational health team or occupation therapist can help in identifying areas where these compromises can be made.

Below are some resources that may help in your situation.

nras.org.uk/resource/work/

nras.org.uk/resource/i-want...

nras.org.uk/resource/an-emp...

nras.org.uk/resource/guide-...

- nras.org.uk/resource/disabi...

- nras.org.uk/resource/overco...

acas.org.uk/

citizensadvice.org.uk/work/

gov.uk/access-to-work

nras.org.uk/resource/the-ro...

You may also wish to look into benefits which you may be eligible for. Please see the below links for information and support with these.

nras.org.uk/resource/benefi...

nras.org.uk/resource/person...

citizensadvice.org.uk/benef...

turn2us.org.uk/

I hope you find this information useful and wish you all the best. Should you require any additional information or support please contact our helpline on 0800 298 7650 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4.30pm) or email us at helpline@nras.org.uk

Best wishes,

Hannah - NRAS Information and support coordinator.

virtualreality profile image
virtualreality in reply to Hannah-NRAS

Thank you Hannah, this is all much appreciated. I will have a look through these links and maybe give the helpline a call later in the week.

virtualreality profile image
virtualreality

Just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who's helped me out here with information and advice - I'm really, really grateful. I have quite a bit of reading and thinking to do, it seems! But I feel much better informed now, about both sides of a situation like this, which is exactly what I was hoping for. You are all fantastic x

CripLady profile image
CripLady

scope.org.uk/advice-and-sup...

This will be worth a read and it includes a link to the government website.

It also may be worth asking your Rheumatologist for a prognosis letter explaining that it takes time for the meds to kick in.

You have been given some good advice on here. Personally I always research my legal position on things so that my arguments are bolstered. Know this for your own sake if you don’t want to cause ripples. Change is a process. You may need to ‘hand hold’ your employer for a while.

Maybe ask to continue working from home for now to be reviewed at Easter (or new tax year). Good luck

virtualreality profile image
virtualreality in reply to CripLady

Thank you, I didn't know there was such a thing as a prognosis letter, but that sounds potentially very helpful for situations like this.

CripLady profile image
CripLady

equalityhumanrights.com/en/...

You may also like...