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Applying for jobs after long term absences.

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by JaneDoe012, Jan 22, 2019.

  1. JaneDoe012

    JaneDoe012 New commenter

    My question relates to applying/interviewing for new jobs and navigating references after significant periods of absence for illnesses covered under the disability act.

    I have been in my current teaching job for several years. During the first couple of years of my employment, my health was fine and I had my mental health conditions in check. I had 0 days of absence and my performance was excellent.

    However, in the last couple of years I have had A LOT of medical/life issues that have led to significant amounts of absence. To be specific: 2 periods of long term absence (3/4 months) and several days off in between.

    Without dwelling too much on the details, I have 2 diagnosed mental health conditions (BPD and bipolar type 2) which have been hard to manage due to the following life circumstance: I had to move out of my house for a few months due to flooding, I was then involved in a car crash, a few months after this I fractured my arm, I then had a major seizure, was hospitalised and will be treated for epilepsy for the rest of my life. All of my diagnosed conditions are covered under the disability act.

    Work have no proof or reason to question my performance, but I am clearly not their favourite employee due to absence and the fact they have to adhere to some reasonable adjustments and I am sensing that their tolerance levels are depleating.

    I have reached the conclusion that I would like to change schools and get a job closer to home; somewhere where I can have a fresh start and that will, hopefully, be a little more sympathetic(!!)

    My main issue is that I am concerned about how much to reveal to a potential employer and how to navigate the fact that my references may not be glowing and will definitely reference my attendance. I will outline some of my main questions/dilemmas below in the hope that someone may be able to help:

    1) I would like the chance to explain why my attendance has been so poor and discuss how my disabilities will affect my job and how they could help to support me. When would be the best time to do this...informally when I visit the school, at the end of an interview, or wait until a job offer?

    2) How honest should I be about the support I will need? My mental health conditions and my epilepsy do have an impact on my working life. I will need more time off for medical appointments than other employees and I do have to be extremely careful about workplace stress and workload. I will need reasonable adjustments but do have a working model from my current school that works well for me and helps me to fulfill all my roles with minimum impact on the school. Should I share this with them or will this be "overload"?

    3) How can I gauge whether they will supportive than my current school? My current school have very much exacerbated my issues by not being very supportive and not meeting my reasonable adjustments consistently. How can I best try to avoid a similar situation?

    4) How honest should I be about my disabilities and ongoing treatment? BPD in particular carries with it a lot of stigma and I'm worried about the judgements and assumptions that I may face. In addition, I have not fully completed all phases of my treatment... this may mean that I need regular time off work for weekly/fortnightly appointments and that another period of long term absence may crop up due to the nature of treatment. Should I be open about this? Or is that a bridge I cross when I get to it?

    In all honesty, I think (and hope) that I have gone through the worst of it and can start rebuilding my life...however I will have to live with these conditions for the rest of my life but would like to carry on with the profession I love...and when I am there I am a dedicated and diligent teacher. I have just had a challenging couple of years.

    Thanks for reading, hope someone can help.
  2. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    Difficult situation, I feel for you. I do think a conversation with a member of a Union's legal team would be helpful.
    mothergoose2013 likes this.
  3. JaneDoe012

    JaneDoe012 New commenter

    Hi, thanks for this. I am in close contact with my union rep. She is very helpful and I will ask her advice too. Just wanted some opinions from other teachers/heads/senior leaders to get an idea from their point of view really. Cover all bases as it were.
  4. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    It sounds as if you've had a really rough couple of years, and hopefully things will get better from here on in.

    I agree thatyour union are the best people to advise.
    mothergoose2013 and agathamorse like this.
  5. serenitypolly41

    serenitypolly41 Occasional commenter

    With your situation I really would advise speaking to union
    agathamorse likes this.
  6. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    Are they allowed to discuss disability absence-it is not protected like Maternity? I am not sure, seek legal advice.
  7. JaneDoe012

    JaneDoe012 New commenter

    Thank you very much for your comments. I will get on to my Union and also perhaps get a legal opinion.
  8. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Two periods of three to four months, over a two year period, isn't terribly awful to be honest.
    And by the sounds of it you have good reason.

    Personally, I wouldn't mention the absence at all when applying. It shouldn't be on the reference in any particular way, and if your school want you to go, they will paint it as positively as possible anyway.

    Once you've been offered the post and fill in the health declaration thingy, then be totally honest with dates and reasons. They won't withdraw the offer based on this, but might want to talk to you about it and then you can explain.
    agathamorse and JohnJCazorla like this.
  9. serenitypolly41

    serenitypolly41 Occasional commenter

    May I just ask you all on here as my situation is slightly similar but not exactly the same do reference requests ask for the number of days off sick as a general rule?

    Or do schools now have occupational health/medical questionnaire forms
  10. JaneDoe012

    JaneDoe012 New commenter

    Thanks, helpful advice...very grateful
  11. JaneDoe012

    JaneDoe012 New commenter

    Not at all sure on this one, but would also be interested to know.

    Sorry to hear your situation is similar.
  12. sooooexcited

    sooooexcited Established commenter

    Yes they do serenitypolly4.

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