Forum

Advise needed with 'Reasonable Adjustment' at work

Hi all,

I hope all who read this are keeping well and warm.

I have put off asking for advice about this, as I thought I had better remain ‘strong’ and that maybe with that positivity this would sort itself out, but I am starting to feel like I am going crazy!

This is lengthy so bear with…

I have worked for a company for 4 years now, just over. At the time of being diagnosed with remitting and relapsing MS at the end of August 2013 (following a lengthy relapse) I panicked and re-deployed myself to a familiar role within the company and to a team that I new would welcome me, warts and all so to speak. I was VERY honest and told them that I was looking to change roles as I had just been diagnosed and felt I needed a base, structure and less stress whilst I figured out how to work and live with it. Since joining the team I unknowingly inherited a MASSIVE work backlog from the previous employee as well as ongoing demands of a pressured role. I cracked on with it, largely taking hits on my annual leave to manage fatigue, migraines, leg spasms etc in hope that I could keep my MS at bay - I couldn’t! I have had around 6 -7 small ish relapses in the last year, the most I have ever had! I made a decision after having to take 7 weeks off work with yet another relapse a few months ago and subsequently going over my sickness allowance, meaning I went on to SSP and financially took a hit once I returned on a phased return, that enough was enough and I needed to ask for a more flexible way to do this job - i.e. work from home, maybe later starts etc etc. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO as I have jumped through many hoops and been to many very intimidating HR meetings and seem to get nowhere. After persistence and involving Unison they are budging slightly but every option of ‘reasonable adjustment’ either means that I have to reduce my working hours or do them over a longer day i.e. come to my base for most of the day then clock off and go to another base closer to home, but that’s would mean working until 6pm/7pm each night when I am really only supposed to work 9am to 5pm. Its too long and boring a story to go into any more detail but this is ruining my life and taking up ALL of my personal time and limited energy.

Has anyone out there experienced this and what did you do? Do you think its worth just taking a hit and reducing hours i.e after a couple of years do you get more in the swing of things and go back to full time? I just feel there is no flexibility - can you believe they force me to take sick on days when onl my mobility is effected i.e. its not a relapse and I feel ‘ok’ - they have now said if I don’t want to take sick then I cant work from home so I have to get a train, bus or taxi the 30 miles trip it is to work…bearing in mind I cant get around my flat as I walk like a thunder bird when my mobility goes so I could NEVER negotiate a busy train ride to work or even get to the train station!

Arrrrrrrgh! I am fed up of chasing GP’S, consultants, work, union and you name it for support and advice and just want to work whilst I still can. I am not even sure if this makes sense as believe it or not I have condensed it lol! Thanks for reading :slight_smile: Sorry all xxx

Have you tried Access to Work ? Its a government dept and provides various forms of assistance to allow you to stay in employment through providing financial assistance for specialist equipment , transport etc. Im a teacher and have such a grant for taxis use, it was essential to keeping me in a full time job shortly after diagnosis.

I would highly recommend you get in touch with them if you haven’t already done so. Good luck.

meganruth

1 Like

Hi

This is just a very quick reply while I have a few minutes. Have you heard of Access to Work? It’s something the DWP provide, to help people with disabilities to stay in work. They can provide advice, specialist equipment or fund travel arrangements. I use them to pay for a taxi to get me to & from work. If you google it you’ll find out more.

On the mobility issues, would it be possible to have a wheelchair stored at your workplace? Then if you’re mobility is playing up, you could use it to get round the office or wherever it is you work. Even if the whole building isn’t wheelchair accessible, it could at least help to be able to get from one end of the room to the other.

And do you get Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment (which has replaced DLA)? If not, you should claim for it. It’s not means tested and would help provide some extra pennies. And if you do get them, then you’ll qualify for the disabled component of working tax credits as long as you work more than 16 hours a week, which would mean reducing your hours won’t be the financial hit you fear.

Hope you get the support you need though. I’m very lucky as my employer have been incredibly supportive (they actively encourage people to work from home, as it’s cheaper for them!), and I’m so grateful for it. But I can imagine how tough it is to not have the full support of your boss.

Dan

Ha, just seen your reply meganruth - we were obviously typing our replies at the same time :slight_smile:

Oh, and something else I forgot to mention is that train companies can provide assistance for free if needed. For example, they can have a porter carry your bags, or they can have someone meet you with a wheelchair to take you to the platform, to make it easy to get round. Each train company will have a dedicated support line that you can call to book assistance.

Dan

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my lengthy post and for your replies.

i did already try access to work but perhaps I just got the wrong advisor or had brain fog that day as they gave me the impression that I have to go through a lengthy application every time I needed to access transport so it wouldn’t be an option when my legs just suddenly stop working an hour before I need to be in work for example but from what you both say the. That doesn’t sound the case?

thanks for the advise about PIP too, I started claiming this about a month ago which is helping to cover my bills whilst I have gone from full time to a phased return/so so that is a saving grace at least :slight_smile:

the prob is with the transport issue as that as (touch wood) my symptoms are usually temporary and I live in a top floor flat, a wheelchair to work is too much like hard work as it’s a 50 mile round trip on a good day and a direct way ie on days when I can’t pick my legs up to get in a car or negotiate busses, people, platforms etc then it’s just a step too far and I don’t think I need to put myself through that at this stage when working from home and support from work would limit this…long story but I won’t bother you all with it.

The other issue is I’m a support worker who works with vulnerable people often with mental health issues or drug or alcohol addictions and I lone work so I would be very vulnerable myself if I can’t run away effectively.

anyway I fear I come across as less than the positive person I am being about this and it prob sounds like I am being negative but it’s hard to explain the situation in brief, guess I just needed a rant and will face the next hurdle with work and HR when it comes. Thanks a lot for listening and replying that sometimes is enough isn’t it :slight_smile: xx

Hi

I think you really need to look at your work pattern and what changes could be made. Your employer is under an obligation to consider “reasonable adjustments” in order to allow you to continue to perform your duties however the adjustments should be “reasonable” to allow you to your duties or mitigate the effect on your ability to perform normal day to day activities and any failure could be indirect discrimination.

Now the issue is whats a “reasonable adjustment” well in law their isnt a formula, it would be for a tribunal to determine whether the adjustments offered were in fact reasonable in all the circumstances. if you are unable to reach agreement, then it is likely that HR will commence capability proceedings against you, with a view to removing you (dismissing you) from your position. They would do this by first of all seeking access to your medical records via your GP, neurologist or referring you to and Occupational Health Advisor who would provide information on your ability to render good service. Were they to determine that you were unable to offer good service then they could dismiss you. But again, if they just took the decision without any medical information this could be an Unfir dismissal for a reason connected to a disability, which again is unlawful.

Dismissal in these circumstances would be a high risk strategy, partly because MS is a condition which is regarded as a disability from the time of diagnosis and as such is afforded protection under the Equality Act 2010, and partly because damages if they lost their case could be significant, let alone the bad press, for an organisation working and supporting vulnerable people.

If you didn’t want to reduce the number of days that you work you would need to show that your employer’s insistence that you must be based at an office is putting in place a Provision Criterion or Practice which puts you as a disabled person at a disadvantage, when compared to someone who is not a disabled person.This in itself would be indirect discrimination if they could not advance an explanation that a tribunal could conclude that it is a fair requirement for you to work from an office and that their insistence was " proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim". This could be a very high bar for them to clear, particularly if they have other workers who are based at home.

So you need to do some research if you really do feel that you should be allowed to work from home at least some of the time.

Do they have workers who work from home at the moment?

If so what jobs they perform?

If you can answer these questions may be able to assist you further. However you should not attend meetings without being accompanied and if you are invited to a meeting to discuss your sickness or capability your employer must put down in writing to you the nature or area of concern that they intend to probe at the meeting and must also provide you with sufficient information for you to be able to respond or rebut their allegation or position.

I hope this helps, KEEP THE FAITH

Terry G

Hi

You have had some good replies here.

In addition, I would suggest you contact the Disability Law Service. The MS Society sponsors a lawyer there who has been very helpful in giving me advice about reasonable adjustments. Contact details below:

Disability Law Service
The Foundry
17-19 Oval Way
Vauxhall
London
SE11 5RR