Stress and uncertainty at work

I suppose I’m not looking for advice, exactly, but I just want to tell someone about the kind of day I’ve had. It’s not directly MS-related, but MS does mean it’s more of a worry for me, than it might be for other people.

I can’t say too much, because I don’t want to reveal the identity of the companies involved.

But basically, many years ago, I was working for a company that transferred part of its operations to another company. This type of transfer is covered by legislation called TUPE (Transfer of Understakings Protection of Employment), for those who are interested in that kind of thing.

The whole operation AND all the people (including me) transferred to the new employer, but keeping their old terms and conditions.

Anyway, I didn’t much like it at the time, but that was all water under the bridge, and I have been working for the “new” employer ever since (years!)

Today, in a shock announcement, it turns out the old employer (the one that decided it didn’t want us years ago) is negotiating a deal to get us back. In a shock announcement, that none of us had foreseen, all of us were called to a consultation meeting, today, about potentially transferring back to the old employer, as soon as next Spring (this is the earliest they can legally do it).

I’m trying to tell myself there may be some positives, as I never really chose to leave Employer A in the first place. They chose to part company with me. But now it seems I may end up back with them after all.

Having not worked for them for years, I’ve absolutely no idea what their current stance is on disability/chronic illness (although they are a major blue chip company, so should meet the legal minimum). I also don’t know what their attitude is to homeworking (which I’ve done for years), and whether they even allow it, or whether I might suddenly to be expected to report to an office, suited and booted, every morning. If that happened, I don’t think I would be able to adjust to the longer days and extra effort, and would probably have to quit!

I’m still being told I “might not” be one of those affected, but the way it was presented this afternoon sounded like a done deal, and that all that remained to be done was dot the i’s and cross the t’s.

They’re arranging consultation with the destination company’s HR, so I’m feeling like it will happen. Then they laughably told everyone to get on with their jobs, and not to worry about it.


Hi Tina

I’d get on to Acas or your union (if you have one) for advice.
One thought - when company A ‘sold’ you to company B it was ‘as seen’ so now if company A ‘buys’ you back I’d hope that the same should apply, so whatever existing work agreement you have with B should be taken on by A.

Hope so, good luck and hopefully all this can be resolved without too much stress for you


Thanks Clare,

The Union has been caught on the hop with this one - they didn’t see it coming either.

They’re about as useful as a chocolate teapot anyway. The company pledges to “consult” them, but this sometimes consists of alerting them to major announcements just minutes before they’re broken to the wider workforce anyway! It’s conspicuous that they have yet to come out with ANY formal response to today’s developments - not even a rushed e-mail, saying: “Do nothing: we’ll respond properly tomorrow”.

Yes, my contractual terms should be preserved intact, but I’m not sure being allowed to work permanently from home is “contractual”, and not just an informal agreement we have struck. If it’s the latter, A won’t be bound by it, and could insist I start showing up at the office every day.

Whatever the final outcome, I face months of not knowing whether I am going to be transferred, and whether my working life can continue more-or-less unchanged, or will become much harder.

We all knew there was a big contractual announcement coming, but expected it to be good news, that would secure all our futures, and not that we were going to be sold…AGAIN. Apart from anything else, I’m not sure how I feel about returning to a company that betrayed us in the first place, and sold us to the highest bidder.

How can they turn round, years later, and say: “Of course we’d love to have you back!”?



Hi Tina, what a stressful situation for you. I really feel for you. Is it possible that the company doing the buying will be buying the company you currently work for and trade it as a self contained division so everything will be the same, it is just that your wages will be paid by a different company. That is what happened when the company I worked for was bought over, we trade as we always did but a different company now pays the wages. I think the home working is probably the big issue for you. I wonder if the work you do lends itself to home working or if you are maybe the only one in the company who works at home. Do you work at home because of your ms or was it something you did anyway? Working at home for you must be in your contract but yes, I suppose, a new company could in theory change that. In the past I have tried to bring work home, just to clear a backlog ad I have been limited to not being allowed to take certain documents out of the office due to confidentiality, so, not knowing what you do, this could perhaps be an issue for the company buying you, with home working. If you will be with a blue chip company, I think they should be ok regarding disability laws. I agree with you saying that the way it was presented sounded like a done deal, by what you say, it does, and yes I have seen these deals too in the past when it is presented as a “might” but everyone knows it is a done deal. Tina, I think the worst thing for you is not knowing what will happen. Hopefully it will work out ok. Cheryl:)

Thank you Cheryl,

No, the destination company (my “original” employer) won’t be buying out my present employer - they’ll just be buying back “some” of its operations (the ones they previously decided they didn’t want!)

Sorry, dunno if that makes sense?

In theory, there would be no immediate change, as of Day 1, because they would be acquiring the complete operation. But I don’t think there’s any guarantee they would have to respect local arrangements indefinitely - such as whether an individual works from home or not.

No, I didn’t work from home because of my illness - or not consciously, anyway.

With hindsight, it did play a part, I’m sure. What happened was, as time went on, I began to find less and less need to go into the office. My colleagues and customers were often based at other offices anyway (not mine), and once the company started rolling out mobiles and laptops to everyone, I could work from literally anywhere. Coincidentally with this, I began to feel more and more tired (though I didn’t realise it at the time, of course), and since my employer’s attitude was flexible, and I had the necessary technology, I began to visit the office less and less, and to work from home more and more.

To start with, I still used to go in once or twice a week, just to say I’d been, but as time went on, even that seemed less and less worthwhile. Often, there was hardly anyone else there, and I didn’t do anything I couldn’t have done as well - or sometimes better - from home!

So eventually, the company recognized it as permanent. It’s not unique, in my company; quite a lot of staff do it, not just those with health issues.

But for me, it worked out particularly handy, because of course, I was ill, even if I hadn’t realised.

So anyway, it’s all suited me very well the last few years - I didn’t even need time off for a relapse, because I could still type and answer the phone (mostly!) and didn’t have any horrible commute to worry about.

But I don’t know if it’s a set-up a different employer would entertain, or not.



Hi again, Tina, yes I see what you mean, about just buying back some of the “operations”, sort of been there and as you say there will be no change on day 1 but longer term who knows. I can also see how working from home suits you and works for you and I have no idea how this woul be handled. You may have a good case , being as you have the ms diagnosis and this obviously works for you, then again, as you say, would a new employer go for home working? Tbh I am not sure they would have to? Nothing I can really say to help you, but I can see how the arrangement has worked well for you but this uncertaintly isnt good but don’t see what you can do. Sometimes these things work out ok in the end but yes you are right, you face months of worry and uncertainty and not sure if much more info will be forthcoming until the deal is completed. I work for a ftse 100 company, since we were bought over and I kinda get the impression they quite like having disabled employees. I am the only one at my office location but know there are others elsewhere, so if you are calling the company blue chip you may be ok in this respect. Best wishes. Cheryl:)

Tina, your Ts&Cs are what you do, and what you do is work from home. Just because something is informal does not necessarily mean it does not carry the same weight as any other sort of contract. Having said which, if there isn’t anything firmly in writing about how that works, this might be a very good time to put that right.

I’m sorry you have this extra worry to deal with.



Thank you Alison,

I know a contract need not necessarily be written.

However, I think my concern arises because although I am “permitted” to work at home (all legit. and above board, and definitely not breaking any rules), I don’t have any contractual right to do so.

My existing employer could revoke it tomorrow - although they’d be very unlikely to, given that it works fine, saves them money (they don’t have to rent office space for me), and they know I’m ill.

So a future employer could also revoke it, but might not have the same scruples about doing so. If they still favour the traditional model of employees expected to be visible on the premises (not just online) between nine and five on weekdays, they could insist.

I suppose the precedent of my already working from home would make it hard for them to argue it wasn’t a “reasonable adjustment”. There can’t be anything fundamentally impractical or impossible about something that’s already been happening for years. But on the other hand, it was never put in place in recognition of my “disability”.

I was working from home well before my MS was ever known or suspected, so I can’t claim it was a necessary adjustment, that has to be honoured.

It was a discretionary “perk”, that by great good fortune, turned out to be very useful to someome who later went on to develop MS.