Sickness and work

Hi everyone,

Im feeling really upset at the moment due to work. I have been off sick from work from March to June this year with double vision ,no balance and then no feeling in my right leg to then be admitted to hospital for a diagnosis of Ms. I then relapsed and was off work for a week then dragged my self back to work . I’ve now been told I’m only allowed 2 absences of 4 days in the next 6 months . I so angry they sent me to occupational health who agreed with me that if I did relapse again this wouldn’t be achievable. What can I do ? Xx

Hello, I could be wrong but I think if you declare you have a disability (MS), then provided you are off work and it relates to your disability then they can’t touch you. We went through redundancies a few years back and sickness was taken into consideration, but sick days due to disability were not counted.

My hubby has been off with a UTI and it’s affected his mobility - I always make sure sick line states that it related to MS.

As I say I could be wrong but this happened in my experience. My friend is in HR so provided some advice.

hope this helps xx

I’m pretty sure that as MS is classed as a disability you cannot be penalised for having time off work due to the symptoms that come from it. Perhaps the MS Legal Helpline or CAB will be able to give more details about your employment rights. It’s good that Occupational Health agree with you. Hopefully they have put this in their report to your employer.

Make sure you keep records of everything that is said to you. Legal advice on employment issues is sometimes included within your household insurance.

Hope this helps in some way.

Take care.

They cannot say that.

I retired through ill health in 2012 so have been through all of this.

If you say that you have MS then you are covered by the Disability Discrimination Act and your employer is obliged to follow a certain protocol.

Ask to be referred to Occ Health. They really helped me and can explain things more thorough for you. You really do have a lot of rights.

Good luck.

Shazzie x

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Hi I can only agree with what the other respondents have said. I worked for the local council and we used the Bradford Score to measure sickness and trigger points. I had a return to work interview following a period of sickness and my boss stated that I had gone onto stage 1 disciplinary - I was so shocked - I started to well up. I told here that I thought any absence due to ms was discounted although any sickness not related like a cold still was. She stopped the interview there and then and said she would take advice. Next day she came back to me and apologised and said the ms absences were discounted for the bradford score. It left me feeling rather upset but my manager was not aware of the rules - she isnt an hr specialist - and has no previous experience of managing someone with a disability. we both learnt from this experience - she made sure she was always correct in information she gave me and I spent a lot of time on the internet making sure I knew my rights. Saying that she was an extremely supportive boss and was helpful in getting ill health retirement. Occ health are a good place for advice.


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Hi Helen

i also work for the council and they have said I’m now in stage 2 that’s why I cant have more than 2 sickness x

Hi kitty, are you in a union? If not do you know someone who is who can enquire on your behalf? I’ve only just been diagnosed, I informed my union rep who told me it does not matter how many times I am off sick with ms issues it doesn’t count. If you can’t get any answers contact citizens advice, there Is also a disability organisation who would be able to help but unfortunately cannot remember their name, hopefully someone else can, take care C

If you’re a Trade Union member, talk to your rep and (via him/her) get to talk to your Union’s expert legal people, so they are on your case. If you’re not a Trade Union member, then hurry up and join (I am assuming here that your employer is local government, so it is a unionised environment.)

As others have said, your employer is legally obliged to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to get you back to work and help you stay there, despite your MS. It remains the case that people and their employers sometimes have to part company when all reasonable avenues have been exhausted, but that should be a last resort.

Many employers try to apply a one-size-fits-all sickness absence policy to begin with. How much of this is just cynical trying to get away with it, and how much is just good old-fashioned incompetence in the HR department will vary from place to place!

Don’t panic, though. Once the issue is elevated above dim-wit level in the HR department (and getting it elevated through the TU route is a good way of doing this) then you should meet with a more constructive and well-informed response from your employer.

Good luck.


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Hi Kitty

I would print off a full copy of the sickness policy from your council’s intranet site and look to see what that says about disability and the disability discrimination act - also have a look to see if you have a staff disability officer or a disability support group at work - we did and you could at least then talk to someone who has maybe had experience of sickness and how theirs has been managed. Reasonable adjustments should mean that your ms sickness absence is discounted and you could ask for this to be applied to you. You cannot be treated differently to someone else in similar circumstances. Good luck - it is very stressful - I found being disabled at work full of pitfalls and brickwalls. Let us know how you get on x

The comment above is slightly incorrect - an employer has an obligation to consider “reasonable adjustments”. MS is covered by the Equality Act 2010 (previously the DDA) and reasonable employers would generally take account of absences which are related to MS, but this does not necessarily mean discount. Check out all Policies and Procedures (Attendance Management, Disability in Employment, Equality and Dignity at Work etc) and find out where you stand. Generally larger organisations are able to accommodate more “reasonable adjustments” than smaller ones. An employment tribunal would take account of what that particular employer could have done (particularly where reasonable adjustments have a financial cost). Large profitable organisations would struggle to justify not supporting someone due to costs, which would be deemed appropriate for organisations with low finances. Occupational Health do play a vital part. Also check if you have an Employee Assistance Programme in place for other support (such as financial).

They could consider things which have little financial impact such as allowing breaks, reducing hours during relapses, asking a colleague to pick up some of your tasks for a period, moving you to a ground floor office etc…

I hope your organisation support you as best they can during this difficult time.

A (dim-wit) HR Professional

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I think you will find that the Equality Act 2010 imposes on the employer a duty to make (rather than just to consider) reasonable adjustments. Defining ‘reasonable’ is the tricky part!

I agree that the treatment of disability-related sickness absence is not clear-cut. Maybe case law since the Equality Act 2010 has started to clarify matters, as DDA-related case law never managed to, but I wouldn’t know about that (been out of the game too long!) And certainly the TUC has set its sights on securing the ring-fencing of disability-related sickness absence by hook or by crook. They’re not there yet, as far as I know, but my guess is that it will only be a matter of time - particularly in the public sector.