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Work advice and a bit of a rant too....sorry!!

Afternoon all!

Hope everyone’s as well as can be. I’m sitting here listening to the radio waiting for the new footie season kick off and my beloved Stoke City, goarrn you mighty potters!!

Anyways I’m looking for a bit of advice, or maybe just plain old encouragement, regarding my employment situation at the moment. I currently work 32 hours night shift in a large clothing warehouse for one of the big supermarkets. Up until a few months ago they’d been really good with me, I very rarely spent all night on my feet which is pretty good considering the type of work I’m in. There’s just not much opportunity to sit down in a warehouse!

A few months ago we had a new pay deal and terms and conditions which bought us in line with the rest of the distribution centres for the company I work for. It meant a fab pay rise but they’ve also got more strict on “downtime” and job rotation. This is now beginning to have an adverse effect on me. I’m not getting the opportunity to sit as much as I was (I only ever had an hour or two per shift but it made the world of difference to me being able to pace myself). There’s a few jobs in the warehouse that I think I could do and be able to have a quick sit down for an hour or so while I’m doing it. I tentatively mentioned it to one of the managers last week and was told that we’re not allowed to have chairs in the warehouse.

Now, whenever I’ve seen our occy health therapist she’s always encouraged me to get in touch with Access to Work but I’d always been reluctant thinking that they wouldn’t be able to help much but now I’m beginning to wonder if it’s worth a shot. The only reason I’m holding back is I don’t want to draw attention to myself and what I can and can’t do. I keep hearing stories off other colleaues how the management are trying to lay people off on capability grounds. Now this may be unfounded rumours but it still makes me nervous about bringing someone in to highlight what I need. I’d had agreements with the managers on the shop floor to let me do this one particular job but with a couple of hours sitting, trouble is they never put me on that job anymore as they don’t want me sitting in the office (at least that’s the way I’m reading it!). If Access to Work came in and told my bosses I should be supplied with a chair to do certain jobs I’d put money on never being given those jobs to do. Maybe I’m just being pessimistic or plain old paranoid but i don’t want them to turn around and say that because I need to sit for part of the shift then that means I’m incapable of doing my job anymore.

I’m one of those who just wants to keep quiet, keep my head down and just be left to do what I can. I’ve already decided to reduce my hours in the next few months to 24 per week but I’m scared about what comes next, I can’t cut my hours any more and I just hope this works for me for a while. I do feel like I need some support from my employers but I’m nervous about asking for help. It all sounds stupid but i just want a quiet life lol! I’m torn between going after some help or just keeping schtumm and plodding on regardless.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, sorry it’s a bit of an essay but I feel better just having typed it all down. If anyone’s been in a similar situation or has any advice that’d be great!

Hi Claire,

Yes you should call AtW, although your employers are not obliged to take their recommendations they would find it very difficult to keep within the Equalities Act (Law) if they did not by offering ‘reasonable adjustments.’

You may think I’m going OTT but surely such a big organisation has many positions where you do not have to be on your feet at all; office work etc.

The other big effect on anyone’s metabolism and social life is night shifts. I realise it must have a premium but see what jobs they can offer you on day shifts; could that draw more basic pay to make the difference?

A change is as good as a rest

Hi, I agree totally with anon.

When I was off sick for several months, through debilitating symptoms, I had to see a doc of their choosing, to be assessed for the job I was employed to do. i was found incapable. HR had then to try to find me a job which I was more capable of doing…there weren`t any such openings. So between us we worked out an early retirement on ill health package.

Now back to you…again as anon says, surely a company as big as your`s, must have something where a desk job would be the answer. As you are already cutting your hours down, could that be a job share position?

If Access to Work has already been already been mentioned by your OH bods, then I dont see why involving them officially should go against you. Bite the bullet hun and dont be afraid to ask for help. And dont work till you drop either, without getting some help. Yeh?

luv Pollx

Hi there, I sympathise, having had work issues myself. It’s worth remembering that the Disabilty Discrimination Act covers everyone with MS. Employers are expected to consider making ‘reasonable adjustments’ to tasks or premises for staff with MS. When I called on AtW I was assigned a workplace advisor who was a font of legal knowledge & helped my ensure i diplomatically got what I needed. In my experience you need their help & support when you work for a big company which tends to hide behind company policy. Sometimes the staff on the shop floor aren’t even aware that they are allowed to be flexible with these rules & policies in certain situations. You may find people are keen to help once they realise they are ‘allowed’ to. Get in touch with AtW, you don’t have to persue it if you change your mind. Good luck

Thanks for the replies guys. A job came up a few weeks ago in the office as a wage clerk. I toyed with the idea but it was days and noons rotating shifts (which I used to do and hated), 40hrs a week so financially I wouldn’t have been that much better off and I really didn’t fancy going back on day shifts, nights suits my home llife perfectly. I’m beginning to realise that something like this may be the way I have to go though, even if I really don’t want to.

I can’t afford to have my capability called into question. My husband is disabled too but he gets DLA at the mo and with things about to be thrown in the air with that I really can’t afford to lose my job, it’s a gamble as it is reducing my hours.

Thanks for the replies guys. To be honest a job came up in the wage department a few weeks ago, I toyed with the idea of going for it but it was back on days, doing rotating days and noons shifts (which I did when I first started there and hated lol!), it was back up to 40 hours and although it was extra hours I wouldn’t have been that better off financialy. I know nights probably isn’t the best for me but it fits in with my home life and I quite enjoy doing it.

On the other hand I’m now beginning to realise maybe I should bite the bullet and look for something else. I can’t afford to have my capability bought into question, my hubby is also disabled and gets DLA at the mo but with everything about to be turned on its head with that I really can’t afford to lose my job. I’m nervous about the cut in hours as it is cos all I keep thinking is what’s the next step if this turns out to be too much.

Sorry for all the negativity, I’m not usually like this, just feeling a bit stumped as to what to do for the best!

Hi, you have had good advise already. Do you think the not being allowed to sit down in the warehouse is maybe a health and safety issue and for that reason chairs are not allowed in the warehouse. If that is the case then I’m not sure if they would make an exception or not. I think you have had great advise about access to work and that sounds like the way to go unless you think that your bosses could help you without access to work. I can also understand you just wanting to keep quiet, and not rock the boat, but they can’t pay you off just because you have ms. However, you are obviously nervous about not rocking the boat. If you are struggling to do your job thn they should come up with ways to help you. If for whatever reason a chair in th warehouse is not possible, then can you be moved to another job that can be done sitting down. You gave your reasons for not going for the job as the wages clerk. I would also say that, given the problems you have, that if you did need to move to a job like this, I would have thought that you should be put in a priority position for it, I.e. if you wanted the job or needed to move to such a job you should take priority over anyone else. But yes I understand all your concerns but you sound like you need to get this sorted. Do speak to someone and raise your concerns. Cheryl:-)

Hi, you say you cant afford to have your capability brought into the question, but hun, it is exactly your capability that is causing the question, no? It seems you will have to make some kind of decision soon, as things cant go on as they are.

I know it is worrying and upsetting for you. I was the same when my problems made my job impossible.

luv Pollx

Night shift work plays havoc with our body metabolism clock. You need to look after number one. Yourself! Hard enough doing night work for anyone fit. Bring into it MS must be so hard. I’m sure everyone here would say you have done brilliant. Time to start using the equality act of employment to bear. More rest time from your employer is not a major. All work places are the same. Thankfully we have laws in place to protect the disabled. BE