Returning to work

My first post! Hope it works!

i’d really appreciate some advice as I am getting absolutely knackered and really struggling. I’m currently returning to work after a relapse in September and new diagnosis. I’m a primary school teacher and normally work four days a week.

I’m doing a phased return over five weeks so going from 1/2 day, full day, 2 days, 3 days, 4 days (week after next). During the phased return I don’t need to do playground duties o clubs after school. Week after next I’m expected to be back on full days and duties.

My headteacher refuses to discuss or change this plan. She’s said I “have to” be back four days week after next. The RTW plan is meant to be reviewed weekly but hasn’t though I’ve told the HT how tired I am and that it’s taking a day in bed to recover from a day in school.

It’s taking me forever at the weekends to do planning and marking because I’m so tired and can’t concentrate.

You’ll get the impression that HT isn’t sympathetic and thinks I’m milking the situation. I actually went to work for three days when the relapse happened and I couldn’t move my right legs and left off seeing a GP for three days because I didn’t want to take time off work. The GP had her head in her hands when she found this out (I was admitte distraught to hospital).

There is one lovely school governor who is supporting me (the HT refused to tell the governors what was wrong with me etc even though they have a duty of care). I am going to talk to CAB and my Union.

Any other advice would be great. Any ideas about reasonable adjustments that I could ask for and that have helped.

Look forward to hearing from you all, Jules :slight_smile:

Hi Jules,

Sorry to hear you’re having a rubbish time. After two nasty relapses I had to reduce my working to 3 days. I’m lucky that my manager is really supportive. I gave her a copy of the leaflet off here for employers and also had my MS Nurse write a basic letter detailing the issues I may have. Legally reasonable adjustments have to be made. Speaking to a Union rep would be helpful but also think of a plan you think would be realistic for you.

L xx


sorry to hear about your probs. The head teacher sounds like a bit of a plumb. Not only do they have a duty of care to you, they are responsible for the safety / care and welfare of the children, and if you are not able to maintain the right level of care due to your condition it is important that suitable adjustments are made. I am sure you do not want the additional grief of a fight but I do think that the union should be able to help. Your valuable skills and experience need to be protected so that you can be as productive as possible.

Good luck


Hi, I had a manager who didnt seem to understand/care that I was working under a lot of stress and difficulty.

In fact her attitude reduced me to tears when I went to see my GP about something unrelated.

I was immediately put on a week`s sick leave…which turned into 2 and then a month and I never went back.

I simply could not find the stamina or power of thought needed to do my job.

I`m not suggesting you leave, but have you thought about reducing your hours/days?

look after yourself. Whats the use of spending your time off in bed, because you work so hard on other days? Thats no life!




Get in touch with Access to Work, which is a DWP initiative to help people with disabilities to stay in work. They can do things like provide advice & funding for things like specialist equipment, transport costs, support workers & disability awareness training for colleagues (sounds like your headteacher could use that!). If you google it you’ll find out more.

Also, ask your neuro if you could get Modafinil, which helps with fatigue. I think it can be difficult to get depending on where you are, but certainly worth trying.



Teaching must be about the worst career to follow whilst suffering with MS. I was a college lecturer some years ago and I remember well working 50 hour weeks but being paid for 37. That was without playground duties and clubs.

As already mentioned, you must contact your Union and make sure you have a rep with you for all formal meetings with management over your issues.

Furthermore, you are entitled to an Occupational health assessment and also a workplace assessment. From these, the reasonable adjustments required by employment law can be discussed and established. Your headteacher would be foolhardy to try to bulldoze through those.

I presume from what you say that your GP has issued you wth a fit note defining the terms of your return to work. I feel you have allowed far too little time to readjust to your previous hours. I appreciate that you feel a responsibility both to your pupils and your school to return, but you must put your own health first. I recommend that you revisit your return to work plan with your GP and obtain a new fit note to give to your Headteacher to make sure that you return on your own terms.

You must retain control of this matter and not feel pressurised to conform to your headteacher’s wishes. The school will manage well enough and the headteacher will get over it eventually.

I wish you the best in the battles ahead.



I am a secondary school teacher and struggle hugely with running to get to duties, revision after school when you’re already exhausted etc. I had a difficult time returning to wrk after a relapse a couple of years ago. You’ve had some good advice here. I contacted access to work with some scepticism, but have to say that they were brilliant. Good luck and take care.

Get an appointment with your council’s Occupational Health doctor. I saw one 3 times when I was diagnosed with PPMS. Completely independent even though they are paid by the council. My then HT was brilliant and put into place everything that was suggested. Third visit was final, I was diagnosed with ON, and he just said no more, go home and never return to school. Early retirement followed at 57, thank God. Then last week I went with a former colleague, and close friend, who is suffering severe anxiety and depression and is unable to work. Different doctor but same unbiased opinion. She won’t teach at that school again (very unpleasant and cold new HT!!!). She came up with lots of strategies to help my friend.

keeping your Union rep in the loop is vital as well. They will help you in meetings with your Head and HR dept. to get what you need. I also used Access to Work, slow but also very effective and as they are govt. the Head will have to listen!

Good Luck, Carolyn

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Thank you all so much for your support and advice.

I have given my HT the guide for employers about MS and have contacted my Union. There is a lot about my return to work plan that hasn’t been done correctly and my rep is more than happy to come along to any meeting with the HT to review it and to involve HR.

Rep also has experience of supporting someone with MS already so is familiar with the issues and possible adjustments.

I’m seeing my consultant on Friday and am going to see GP about a new fit note. Also going to ask for workplace assessment and look into Access to Work.

it’s good to feel in control a bit more. Scary to think how little we know about our rights and how people can bulldoze through them as a result.

Thank you all, Jules


You sound as if you have a plan and reassuring support from your union. The Occupational Health assessor will provide independent advice about workplace conditions that are suitable for your needs.

Make sure that your revised fit note gives ample time for you to return, in stages, to your normal hours.

I hope the process is successful and brings about an outcome suitable for you. Please update the Forum with your progress as I’m sure all the contributors to this thread will be keen to find out and offer any further support, if required.

Best of luck!


Good luck! Do keep us posted xx

Glad you’re getting some positive steps to get you back to work. Based on my own teaching career - Involve unions, don’t let he or other colleagues make you feel guilty for your illness or lack of a definite date to be ‘fit for full time work’, definitely involve the job centre plus and ask for an access to work assessment. They helped me massively!

Ultimately, take your time and only do what uou can. Returning too soon can set you back.

Big hugs xxx