Making employers understand

Hi I recently got diagnosed with an under active thyroid. Having done a little reading I now think I have been suffering for some years. The doctor has said that my levels are only slightly low and reluctantly put me on thyroxin but the difference it has made is unreal. I am starting to feel like me again after years of putting it down to being 'tired' and 'soft' and not good enough. I am currently having some issues with work I don't want to make excuses for problems with my performance but the symptoms make sense-being forgetful and confused and generally struggling to cope when in years gone by I would've managed unfortunately as I'm just there over a year they didn't know how I was before and my manager just seems to be really unsympathetic and I feel useless. Is there any documentation out there for employers which can just aid me in getting the help I need. Thank you x

52 Replies

  • I really feel for you because I had the same difficulties and my employer was totally unsympathetic and my collegues were even worse. I couldn't leave my job because my husband was out of work. It's true that if your thyroid is out of kilter you will feel like you cannot cope and everything will be an extra effort. I knew it was affecting my memory when I was unwell because that's one of the symptoms of hypothryoidism. I lost confidence so I know exactly what you're dealing with.

    Unfortunately, I didn't find anything to help me explain it to my employer either and it's a very misunderstood condition. Feel free to show your employer this reply if it helps. There is good information on Thyroid UK website you could print off. Also, Hilary Clinton suffers from a thyroid condition and a number of celebrities like Rod Stewart who had thyroid cancer. You might find their story somewhere. It would reassure your employer that it can be treated and that you will get better. You are not useless, you are unwell. It can take a few months to get back to normal and for some people it takes longer but you will improve slowly. In the meantime, check out your vitamin levels and post them here to get advice. It will help a lot if you improve those.

  • Thank you for your understanding. I'm sorry to read of your experience. I hope things are getting better.

  • Sorry but having an underactive thyroid does not stop you working. My daughter was born without one and she went to university and is now a lawyer. She doesn't feel sorry for herself, she sometimes feels tired etc but she doesn't miss work but if she did she wouldn't want a pity party.

  • chantellsuessister, Have you had an undiagnosed thyroid condition that has caused a serious deterioration of your health? Have you had thyroid cancer and had to go through surgery and many years aftercare and treatment? Have you got an autoimmune disease that affects not only your thyroid but the way your body responds to stress and any kind of infection? There are a wide variety of thyroid conditions, some that fluctuate, some that cause acute crises and some that can impact people's ability to function on a long term basis. Maybe your lawyer daughter could help people on this site by giving them some good legal advice about how to manage their employment situation with a long term condition that affects their health on a daily basis? Why do you think people are feeling sorry for themselves? They are trying to deal with impossible situations, trying to keep working when they are feeling very unwell. It's very difficult to manage employment situations when feeling very unwell and people need support and good advice. Have you got some good supportive advice or know where to get financial support while unable to work?

  • Thank you for your comment. You must be so proud of all your daughter has achieved and continues to do. I hope that her condition was caught early and she didn't suffer and receiving treatment that is right for her it certainly sounds as though she is. I myself have worked since I was 16 through my studies and have two degrees. I know my parents are proud and me and want me to be happy and healthy. At the end of the day that's what we all want. I would ask that you refrain from making further negative and emotive comments on my post. Everyone is an individual and how one person's illness affects them is not the same as someone else's. This forum is for support and advice. Your post offers neither and so have reported it. Regards.

  • Great reply.

  • I have seen someone who absolutely, 100%, could NOT work due to hypothyroidism.

    At one point an emergency ambulance was required.

    Not a matter of pity, simply a matter of lack of physical capacity.

    Please recognise that your and your daughter's experiences, whilst entirely valid, appear not to encompass some of the extremes that others have suffered.

    Further, the original poster Ruthie84 seems very much to want to work.

  • If you have not suffered yourself being undiagnosed and your daughter was fortunate that babies in the UK are tested upon birth for a dysfunction of their thyroid gland and treated before any symptoms occur.

    Millions of people apparently feel well on levothyroxine, but those of us who don't are coming to this website for support and advice on how to recover some semblance of good health. Many of whom are given too low a dose of levothyroxine or other thyroid hormones and thus horrendous symptoms remain.

    I was one who remained undiagnosed due to doctors not being aware nowadays of clinical symptoms of hypothyroidism and also was even more unwell on levothyroxine and life was hell. Considering that my TSH was 100 and even discharged 7 days before diagnosed from the Cardiac A&E as 'probably viral'.

    On this forum their are thousands with similar stores or worse. This is just one example and she lives in Scotland:-

    There are also 300+ clinical symptoms and it is rare, I believe, of doctors to know one or two and the reliance of TSH to diagnose is faulty.

  • Your daughter was given an effective treatment then and THEY couldn't argue it was in her mind as they knew she didn't have a thyroid. Try getting treatment or understanding if you 'just' have a playing up thyroid or a hormone problem!

  • I was diagnosed with Graves' disease at 13 years of age and have had a sub total and a total thyroidectomy, so have been without a thyroid for the last 33 years. I took all my exams at school, I even qualified as a teacher. When my disease recurred in my 30s I was unable to teach any more due to being diagnosed with mental illness in error. Not to be deterred I went back to college after my TT and retrained for office work. I spent the rest of my working life in accounts. I am quite proud of working through all my health problems, including a hysterectomy and a gallbladder removal, and last year open heart surgery, though I am now 71 and retired. So, yes, it is true that some people can continue to work.

    But - and this is a big but - that does not give any one of us the right to judge another person. In all areas of life but most importantly in the area of health, how we respond to our illness is very much an individual thing. How true, how very true, that not one of us can ever experience another person's pain. It is perfectly possible that while I, for example, can tolerate a certain pain, another person has a different physical makeup which means that they find the same pain intolerable.

    I admire your daughter for overcoming her illness and working through thick and thin, as I did, but do not think that this gives you, her, or anyone else the right to adversely judge others who do not have the same strength.

  • Hi chantellsuessister,

    Unfortunately, you are mistaken. Research shows that up to 15% of hypothyroid patients still have a lot of symptoms on levothyroxine, which is why some (but not many) endos give patients T3 in addition to their levo. Some patients still have symptoms on a small amount of T3 as research also shows that some patients either cannot convert at all or that they convert at different rates so some patients need more T3 than others. Unfortunately, many patients are being denied this treatment.

    Most research on thyroid conditions states that more research needs to be done which shows how much is still unknown about thyroid disease especially hypothyroidism.

  • Welcome to our forum Ruthie84.

    I'm sorry you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and that employers/colleagues not sympathetic. Unfortunately it is the same with many doctors most of whom believe it is a 'simple' solution to bring the patient back to good health.

    First of all, Hypothyroidism is a serious illness if untreated and once diagnosed we do not pay for any other prescriptions for any other medical illnesses.

    You have to read and learn as much as possible and you can get better but it does take time. Levothyroxine works for many people but there is also alternatives (not provided by the NHS).

    If you complete your profile i.e. when diagnosed, dose of levothyroxine is helpful.

    First, always get a print-out of your blood test results with the ranges for your own records and you can post if you have a query.

    You should have a blood test every six/eight weeks with an increase until your symptoms disappear and you feel better.

    For a blood test it should be the very earliest possible and fasting although you can drink water. Also allow 24 hours between your last dose of levo and the test and take it afterwards.

    Levo should be taken on an empty stomach with a full glass of water and wait about an hour before eating. Food interferes with the uptake of the hormone (levo). You can either take levo when you awake or bedtime (not having eaten for two hours before).

    Also ask GP to check B12, Vit D, iron, ferritin and folate as we can be deficient.

    It takes years for our thyroid gland to fail gradually so it does take a while to build up our hormones again but you may be lucky and be back to good health quite soon.

    We have billions of receptor cells in our bodies, and each need the active hormone called liothyronine (also known as T3) and levothyroxine (T4) should convert to T3

    The aim of your doctor is to get your TSH to 1 or lower as they no longer take notice of clinical symptoms which should be the priority. Many doctors believe if the TSH is anywhere in the range that you are on a sufficient dose. Our symptoms are the priority but many doctors aren't aware of this unfortunately.

    The aim of thyroid hormone replacement is to remove all clinical symptoms and we feel good. Symptoms shouldn't be treated as 'apart' from hypothyroidism but some doctors do if the TSH is in range.

  • Thank you there are some really interesting points here I didn't know. How long should I fast for before a blood test?

  • Twelve hours, Ruthie84. I, too, had a horrible experience with a boss when I was hypo. Had never had any problem with my job, until I started working for him. I was confused, couldn't remember anything, frustrated all the time because I couldn't learn the new job the way I should've been able to. Horrible!! Anyway, good luck, and know that the people on this site are absolutely wonderful and will be able to help you!

  • Just don't have breakfast if you take levo in the morning. If you take it at bedtime, miss this dose and take after test and take at bedtime as usual.

  • I had the same problem, I had to resign from my job because my concentration and attention and memory are so poor. It was as if I couldn't retain any information at all but when I memorised numbers I was told at that place of work that I am motivated by money!!

  • I'm so sorry for you experience. I hope things have gotten better for you. My commitment and professionalism have both been questioned which I'm gutted about. What they can't seem to understand is its my motivation-energy levels- memory and emotional state which has been affected. I'm so frustrated.

  • Even the doctors and endos don't appear to understand how wide the symptoms can vary. As hypo affects our whole metabolism (not just one part of the body) and the brain contains the most T3 receptor cells and we have billions of receptor cells we need optimum thyroid hormones but ones that suit us. Fatigue also is very common and in fact there are 300+ clinical symptoms and I'd bet that doctors know none.

    On the following link you will see how important a FT3 testis:

  • I am very sorry you had an awful experience with your work.

    Even Endos or doctors don't understand. They've been told that a prescription of T4 will sort us out and if TSH if kept anywhere in the range the patients' complaints are either nonsense or we're suffering from something else - usually depression or some such guesswork. They don't understand that it is T3 which drives our metabolism. As far as I understand, before the blood tests and levo were introduced to replace NDT, there wasn't as many problems as with levo. We were given a trial dose when symptoms appeared (that's when doctors were well-trained in looking and listening to patients too).

    Make sure that you are being prescribed thyroid hormones at an optimum level (you feel well and symptom free).

  • Hi when I was struggling at work and off sick for periods at a time I was referred to Occupational Health..I have had to change my job at the same work place because of all this but OH can be supportive and guide your employer as to what they should be doing to support you..worth asking your employer to be referred.

  • This has been suggested but they want a letter from my GP to say how it's affecting me. I just don't feel believed. And I keep being told I can't have more sick leave.

  • Hi on your sick line put low mood or thyroid problem

    Hope this helps

  • Just read this after posting my long one below. I've been on threat of disciplinary if I have more time off sick and it's so disheartening and stressful when you already feel so awfully ill. As I'm covered under disability discrimination act I'm allowed 2 more day before it triggers the process but this is not enough when going through a bad patch. All you can do it ask GP for a letter, explain to GP how you feel and how this is affecting you. If you need time off sick take blocks rather than odd days and try and get a sick note. Get GP to test for vit B12 folate and ferritin also. I started B12 injections in March and haven't had any time off sick since. Unfortunately this coincided with a threat of disciplinary so HR were thinking it was the hard talk that reigned in my sick leave. I sent them an email telling them otherwise. Not been sacked yet!! 😬

  • Your employer needs to send you to Occupational Health. They don't want to because it costs them money.

    If THEY want a letter or report from your GP they need to PAY for it as a GP isn't there to write letters/reports for them for free. They also won't write one. If your GP is any good they will actually get worried about your request as they know bad employers do this instead of sending their employees to Occupational Health.

    It is Occupational Health who can request medical information about you from your GP as your employer is NOT medically qualified to understand such letters.

    You are legally entitled to and MUST see all letters/reports written to you by your GP BEFORE it is sent to your employer. You are also entitled to see what Occupational Health write about you under the Data Protection Act 1998.

    If you do go off sick for a couple of days then you will need to PAY for a sick note from your GP to give to your employer. (If your GP is understanding they will write a detailed sick note for weeks off for free. Sick notes are for employers, medical reports/letters are for other health professionals.)

    I would however go in an talk to your GP about your work issues next time you see them, mention the request for the letter, warn them they may need to write a report and get them to agree to let you see it first. Ask them the price list for such reports and sick notes. If you have a GP aware of legal issues they would have made good notes ( or will go through your notes and ensure they are up to scratch).

    Finally if you can belong to a union join one. There doesn't need to be a rep in your workplace. This is just so you can ask them the legal position of things. They are all use to employers being difficult over illnesses that can fall into the disability spectrum.

  • Hi..there are some excellent replies below about OH etc..just to add that yes they can help but it's your managers discretion as to what they implement for you..i.e. I was given two extra days sick but OH were recommending a period not days so they can't insist on this. I have been on a stage 1 warning and they had to refer me to OH. I was also given time off for hospital appointments to see Oncologist or Endo instead of having to use my annual leave. If you have to go off sick they have to refer you! Do you have a union rep?

  • At my work place I am supported by occupational health who class my thyroid disease as a disability under the disability discrimination act. I am allowed reasonable changes such as I am not to drive for work if I'm feeling unwell and I can be flexible on my hours eg leave early and make time up another day or work from home etc. I also email any new managers with information about my condition making it factual and succinct but this really depends on your company you work for as to whether this is right for you. It is hard. My working life has been a struggle and there's been many obstacles to overcome - it's not been easy and I have had to settle for lower grade part time positions that I could cope with which has made things hard financially but I've managed to stay in my job for 26 years. I also have had to deal with negetive opinions and comments from colleagues about my 'work ethic' so I've developed a thick skin and ignore them - sometimes thinking thoughts along the lines of ,'you're so lucky to have your health and take energy for granted, I do hope you never develop thyroid disease and have to experience how I'm feeling right now!'.....Also I'm sure I wouldn't be working now if it wasn't for fact I've taken my health into my own hands and take NDT Natural Dessicated Thyroid and also iron vit D and B12 to correct vitamin deficiencies.

    Just tell your boss you've been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and some of the symptoms along with many others are chronic fatigue, weakness, headaches, memory and cognitive problems which may affect your performance at work while the treatment takes time to improve things. Explain that this is a long process and even when treated you may still get some symptoms. Ask for a referral to occupational health if your company has one. Good luck. Try keep positive!

  • I identify as having a disability, that being a life long health condition that does occasionally impact on my work even though I have excellent self management. It has certainly made it easier when I have been unwell, to take time off or modify my workload until I'm feeling better.

  • If you are a member of a union, or can join one I recommend you do, and get their help.

    If you look at it from the employers perspective, they don't know you. You have always underperformed since you started, and you don't look unwell. So the references you got from previous employers don't stack up with what they see. And we all know how meaningful references are nowadays.

    So it's not surprising that they want a doctor's letter. Make sure you see him and tell him how much better you feel, before he writes it!

    As you are recovering now, and it takes a while for employers to go through disciplinary stuff you should be fully functional before any disasters.

  • Hi Ruthie I am sorry that you have not been well. Everyone is right it does take time. From a personal perspective I don't know how I crawled into work for as long as I did until I saw a specialist and she was fantastic.

    From a management perspective employers usually are v strict now and have fixed guide lines on sickness. That said, there are good and unhelpful managers. Having worked in hr in my last role it is important that every time you go into an interview everything needs to be documented and you must both sign the paper. That way you know what is said about you is correct. As with medical records you can ask to see anything on file about you to ensure it is correct and has no personal opinion in it. Subject access report its called) keep them on their toes trust me!!)

    I always told my staff to be in a union. For example unite. You always then have the right of represtation if things escalate. Without that you have to rely on yourself or a fellow worker in interviews. Failing that acas or cab can give you advice.

    Occupational health hmm. Again they can be good or useless. I think I would suggest you go with their wishes but take your time- a doctor will take 3 weeks to get a letter to them at best( thyroid is a hard subject to pin a g p down on as they know v little) but you need to look like you are being cooperative. If you could manage a referral to a consultant it would be better.

    Any long term condition over 12 months may mean you are protected by the Equality act 2010. Once that period has passed employers must make " reasonable adjustments". If you look at the appendix in the gov web page it lists what is covered.

    In the meantime get your vitamin levels right eat well and perhaps consider shorter days until you have improved.

    Trust me once everything is in order( with thyroid issues there can be multiple issues hence worth having vitamin levels especially b 12 levels checked- blue horizon) you will improve. Yes we all need money but your health comes first. Too much stress will not help you at all.

    If you need any specifics message me.

    Best wishes.

  • Ruthie84 Hi,

    The best way to tell your Employers is to talk gobbledy gook over a tannoy in a four story office.

    This is what happened to me! When pressure was added my concentration and memory let me down. They all had a good laugh but as I was two years into medication I thought it was time for me to leave.

    Avoiding pressure is paramount in beginning to feel better. Your Employer needs you to be efficient, accurate and cost effective. Difficult one isn't it!!


  • Unfortunately no one understands Ruthie84, unless they have a thyroid problem themselves. No one really understands the implications of having a slowing function, non functioning thyroid/no thyroid can have on your body. The hormones are so important to all of us. Ask to see the Occupational therapist/person at your works, you are entitled to see them and hopefully they can advise you or your employers of how your thyroid condition has affected you in many ways - even work related issues. You can always google the side affects of an underactive thyroid and take them with you, hi lighting how it has affected you.

    Hope all goes well. But remember its not you, its them for not understanding. I personally have other health issues brought on by my thyroid condition and I feel sometimes I can almost read people's mind lol, especially if they do not look you in the face, almost if they are thinking "Here we go again, making excuses, yeah yeah yeah" Somebody, once said to me, "What is your problem, you should pull yourself together" - I just walked away.

    Let us know how you get on and hope you continue to feel better than you were

    Take care :)


  • Just wondering if your doctor is any more sympathetic because you are feeling very different on meds. Can you discuss this with him/ her? It shows how affected you were and may convince your GP that your meds are really necessary and your thyroid has been affecting your health negatively. Then GP may write a letter in support.

    If not then I think the disability element is important, a union or even the cab may help with this.

  • know how you feel - after being a legal secretary for 40 years became hyperthyroid - the mental confusion was terrible. felt I was no good and could process simple forms without making mistakes no matter how hard I tried. my employers just put it down to my age - received treatment and now hypothyroid but took a while to get proper dosage and it is still not right although there is a vast improvement to before. I think if employers did know the symptoms of this illness they wouldn't hire us as it is such a cut throat business and with the employment situation they can pick and choose so hard hitting as it is I don't think they would employ us

  • My experience with this has been that employers always handle it badly, and you kind of have to expect this to be a painful process.

    A few people have briefly mentioned going part-time or downsizing into less responsible or stressful jobs, which of course will probably mean less money, too :( But I think alongside measures to stand up for your rights, it's good to seriously consider these big life changes. More rest tends to reduce symptoms, but also means reducing clashes with employers.

    My personal situation was a bit different, as I have had to give up work for several years. But even though I was barely getting out of bed I went through an 8 month ordeal with my employers trying to keep me. My boss, HR director, occupational health and even my union all refused to believe that I couldn't work at all. I was always being told by 'experts' that I would be completely fine in a few months.

    I just think they weren't set up to deal with illness. Even though I worked in a university that has hundreds of employees, they acted like they'd never encountered anything like it before. I finally realised thatwe, because I'd been away having operations for some time, they were looking at me like someone returning from maternity leave. They thought it was all about setting up a clear schedule and the psychological barriers to return. But also I'd have people hassling me while I was in hospital, phoning me frequently without appointments when I was in bed, and getting all huffy when I was groggy and could barely speak.

    I've now helped a lot of friends who are less ill cut down their hours or get their employees to define them as disabled, and they've all been a struggle. Employers, much like doctors, family members, etc, just can't imagine what it's like. And there is such a stigma in our society about not being able to do a full day of work.

  • Hi Ruthie

    I feel for you and understand being in a similar situation myself. My concentration and work performance have got so bad since i was diagnosed and put on Levo. I can't remember simple things i used to be able to do. I've had loads of time off sick as well. At my place we do have a tick box form for recording sick leave. There is a catergory for endocrine (thyroid) disorders so i know it is a recognised condition. I would advise going to the OH if you can.

    Good luck xx

  • Hi Ruthie84.

    I haven't put in for my hypothyroid condition to be taken into consideration at work. However without stating that it may be connected, I have got some adjustments made for my vertigo and dizziness. I went online and found a draft letter requesting adjustments at work under the Equalities Act 2010. I don't seem to have saved the link - however these are the relevant bits:

    "I would like to make a request for all reasonable steps to be taken to alleviate the disadvantage I am facing.

    [put in history and problems faced]

    Under the Equality Act 2010, employers are under a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled persons.

    The duty to make reasonable adjustments has the purpose of addressing a situation in which a disabled person is placed at a substantial disadvantage, in comparison with persons who are not disabled. Any adjustments made must be reasonable to do and can take 3 forms;

    A change to a provision, criterion or practice

    A change to a physical feature, and/or

    By providing an auxiliary aid.

    I would like you to consider the following reasonable adjustments:

    [put in adjustments requested]

    I look forward to receiving your response in writing within 14 days from the receipt of this letter."

    My GP thought it would be extremely unlikely that they'd ask them for a letter. Needless to say I did not get a reply within14 days but eventually HR were involved and Occupational Health. While the adjustment I have may seem minor, it does represent an alteration to my terms and conditions.

    I hope this helps. I can no longer do the work I was formerly doing. And yes, the forgetfulness, confusion and slowing down were part of that.

  • Thank you all for you kind and thoughtful responses. I am heartened by your understanding and saddened that I'm not in a minority who have had issues. I have printed and provided the symptoms check list to my boss and she has gone to HR but they have asked for the letter from my GP to, I suppose, support what I am reporting. I am frustrated with some comments that have been made, e.g, when I said I was struggling to read a large and detailed document the response was but you've been able to read up on your condition you are chosing the things you prefer to do. In the moment I get so upset and flustered I can't give a reasoned response. That reading a couple of pages from the Internet in the privacy of my own room without distractions is a bit different from a 500 pg academic document in an office where there are constant competing demands for my attention. It's like my card has been marked. I think the suggestion of Union is a good one although my employer is notorious for not negotating or acknowledging them I think it will be better to have their support than not. Hopefully the GP may be more understanding and helpful next week and I will go from there.

  • Yes, get the Union on board. They may be able to help you identify practical adjustments to request. Without knowing your circumstances it's difficult to suggest but additional time for projects or moving your desk to a quieter corner might be something to look at. LAHs has put good points on this also.

  • Your employer isn't allowed to ignore the union (in the UK anyway).

    Having a union representative present at any hearings is your right, and will make you feel much better. And when you are flustered and upset, they can speak for you.

    I know its rather pessimistic to be talking about union representation, but if you feel your card is marked, that is where it is heading.

  • Perhaps this is a bit too simplistic but could you go to your personnel department (HR if in US) and explain the situation. Ask them if you could move to a different department and therefore a different boss while you adjust to medication. What you are suffering is very real and will get better with medication eventually.

    I recommend the department shift because I once had a terrible situation in one group, I transferred to a different department just round the corner from my original group and it was like a new world, it was hard to believe. When I walked past my old group they all looked so miserable. And yes, the boss may not understand unless they have had a thyroid problem, maybe karma will work on them!

    It is an awful situation, sometimes I push myself and berate myself to do something - and it just doesn't happen. It's not a moral situation it is a real physical issue. Hang in there, you can get better, keep reading our posts and reading on thyroid problems wherever you can.

  • Thank you. I can't change to another department there isn't one to change to in my office and a change of role would be difficult to adjust to given my issues with memory and fogginess. I think sticking it out is my best bet at the moment.

  • Hi Ruthie84

    Can I add my name to the list of people in the same situation?

    I faced having to give up work because of Hashi's and had no sympathy or understanding at all from my former employer. I took a chance and changed jobs to one with fewer contractual hours - let alone all the unofficial ones I worked - and half the commute. I declared my health problems to HR before I started and they were fine with it.

    It was a good decision but my colleagues don't understand that I still get tired and that I can't go out socialising after work. Earlier this year my line manager came out with "it can't be that serious". I've offered to send her links to independent sources and show her blood test results and hospital letters but she's turned them down.

    I did call ACAS about one incident - a business trip which meant leaving home by 6.15 am, working though lunch and not getting home until after 8.45 pm - and both ACAS and HR were great. But they're not writing my appraisal or managing my workload.


  • Ruthie84 thank you for starting this thread. I thought it was rare to have so much trouble at work. My GP said he'd never had any patient who had so many problems. I've found everyone's stories very reassuring. The good news is that I've recently found a job that is just right for me. I've told them about my thyroid condition and that I've had time off work in the past and they were fine about it. I'm a lot better than I was, although I have to watch my energy levels. This new job is a responsible position. I tried taking less responsible positions but it didn't help because ultimately I underperformed whether I was in a responsible or less responsible position. Eventually I went self employed and very slowly built up a small business and regained my confidence while working on my health. It's taken me 8 years since the start of my thyroid journey but here I am back in the workplace in a job suited to my skills. You'll get there too.

  • My situation seems similar to yours in many ways. After not recovering well after an operation this January, my GP did full blood tests and my TSH way at 5.61.

    My employers are a charity and so committed to demonstrating fairness with their staff. Some private sector employers I'm sure are different, but there was still a lack of understanding. When I went back on a phased return, because it wasn't that visible, my colleagues, going through a busy period were not very empathetic!

    Though the Thyroxine has improved, I've gone up from phased hours of 12 to 37++ and feel the work is counteracting the medication. I'm now in bed recovering from a week of work.

    However, I feel there are a few things you need to do:

    1. See you GP for a 'Fitness for Work' form for phased return. If your doctor is understanding, you can negotiate the hours with him/her (or see the best in the practice for this);

    2. Get your GP to refer to an endocrinologist. Contact Louise at Thyroid Uk for a list of good ones. Decent Endos will look at symptoms as well as test results.

    3. See HR and organise an Occupational Health application. For me though, there was one 20 minute phone conversation and then a report. When I wanted to add things i'd forgotten she couldn't go this after. However, the main thing is that, because Hypothyroidism is a life-long condition, it comes under the Disability Act. By law, this should change employers commitment to take this on board. OH pointed this out to them.

    4. Just in case, join an appropriate union to protect your position.

    I hope this helps.

    Good luck!


  • My experience has been that employers are unsympathetic to disabilities and chronic illness. No matter how you have performed in the past, you are to be thrown away once you are ill, and the process of legally establishing disability is too difficult for anyone but a well person to handle! The most recent example of this I have come across, is Even though my immediate supervisor had a daughter with hypothyroidism, she asked me to resign by putting me on administrative warning. I decided to retire early because I still wasn't well, and didn't get well until I had been out of the work environment for 2 years.

  • I'm sorry to read of your experience. I hope that you are feeling much better.

  • Hi Ruthie, I am so sorry that your employers do not understand your condition. This is not a one off, I'm afraid, which is why Thyroid UK will be writing a leaflet especially for employers this year. Keep an eye out for it on our website.

  • I would point out in a tactful way that hypothyroid folks are likely disabled for the purposes of the legislation until they are optimally medicated (assuming that takes or likely to 12 months) and therefore the normal rule on 2 years service before bringing unfair dismissal claims is out the window. Discrimination due to disability is potentially unlimited damages so.......... you might want to speak to a solicitor to see if your case ticks all the boxes to be classed as disabled.

  • Hopefully not at dismissal point yet it just really feels like that's where they are headed if I can't get their heads round it. I have worked for the organisation a total of 7yrs 2mths just this role just over 12 mths so don't know if that makes a difference.

  • Of course it makes a huge difference. There are people in the organisation who know you and can attest to your effectiveness before you were ill. That together with the doctor saying you will recover should protect you for quite a while. Furthermore if you have worked elsewhere you could do so again, so the organisation needs to think hard, its not just that particular department. You are employed by the organisation, after all, not just one individual.

    Definitely get the union on side.

  • They can't unfairly dismiss with 2 years service but the disability point is the unlimited damages so the bit that will scare them most if you tick the boxes for that. Good luck.

  • So the doctor ducted a letter while I was sat in his office. It detailed some of the issues in facing so I hope it is enough. I still think an assessment from oc health would be better. The dr was nice but you just never get enough time to explain everything and a I forgot stuff because my brain is addled again.

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