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Great school but time off due to medical condition

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by shabmum, Feb 14, 2018.

  1. shabmum

    shabmum New commenter

    I work at a great school which I've been at for a few years and I was diagnosed with an intersex condition many years ago (in teens). I was only able to have surgery once I had lost the weight and the school was understanding of the weight loss but they were not aware of the intersex condition. Now that i've had several months off in the last 2/3 years due to major operations, they have now put into a stage one sickness absence procedure.

    I don't want to disclose my condition to the school but do understand they need to help support me. I now have an upcoming operation to remove excess skin due to the weight loss operation to have the intersex condition remedied. Having been on the waiting list for a long time and getting several skin problems, I have been put forward for an abdominoplasty to have the excess skin removed which is causing me several functional problems.

    To add to matters, I have a mental health problem which is ok at the moment but I can imagine this flaring up with the increased stress. I also have been put on a support plan for the next few weeks due to my subject knowledge. This coincides with a change of line manager who doesn't really understand.

    The school have said I should try move the operation etc. so they are not impacting upon the students but it is simply not as easy as this due to the length of time waiting and also the health problems it is causing.

    I have told the school I am happy to see occupational health but only if they don't disclose my condition. I understand that with my mental health problem (covered under DDA) and intersex issue, that I am covered/allow time off without it triggering absence procedures?

    Advice is welcome.
  2. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    If you like the school, I would assume you trust the head teacher?

    If so, I would ask for a private meeting with him to tell him this information.

    It seems to me that keeping this to yourself could also contribute to your stress and risk of I'll health. You may actually feel better in yourself for taking to someone at work in an official capacity?
  3. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    You need to talk to the HT, possibly with HR. I'm with @Flanks.

    The school need to know of your conditions to support you - they have a duty of care. If after your surgery, you have complications, the school have not made adjustments and you fall ill/injured...legal minefield.

    If you don't want your condition disclosed, OH are unlikely to be able to assist either you or the school.

    I'm surprised they've asked you to move your operation. All HTs I've worked for have taken the view that if its surgical, it can't be moved. Talk to your union.

    Check your school's absence policy. The majority operate a policy of allowing only a period of days off before triggering absence - and this can include when someone is signed off for surgery. As I said, talk to the HT, HR, and get the union in if required.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
  4. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    You need to be honest and open with your head.
    At the moment, the school cannot support you fully because they don't know what's causing all this. Asking for time off to move surgery to remove excess skin after weight loss, probably just seems like a cosmetic procedure, which you can understand them being reluctant to sanction, if you have already had several months off in the past couple of years.

    Coupled with concerns over your subject knowledge, and you can see their point of view in wanting to start a support plan and get things back on track which they cannot do if you are off for another operation.

    It sounds harsh, but it stands to reason that schools need to have teachers who have good subject knowledge and are actually in school for the vast majority of the time.

    You may have a very good reason to be off, and possibly this accounts for not keeping up with subject knowledge (I don't know) but you need to let the head know this good reason in order to have their support.
    You can't complain the line manager doesn't understand, when they don't even know!

    Make and appointment with the head next week and spill it all out to them.
    Then accept the appointment at OH and go with what they say.
    phlogiston likes this.
  5. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter


    shocking I mean, I don't mean I disbelieve you!
  6. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Looking at UNISON documents I infer that an intersex condition is not yet a protected characteristic. UNISON is campaigning for that to change.

    The key issues are the havoc the weight loss has caused (I imagine it's chafing and soreness leading to lesions) and your mental health. I don't think it will be advantageous to disclose your intersex status as I don't think the law yet recognises intersex in the way it recognises transgender (just an example).

    But there's no question that you must have the surgery at the nearest opportunity. Operations are routinely cancelled and you'd be very rash to postpone it.

    I think you should see OH as the school has to make reasonable adjustments. I don't see that your gender identity is relevant. Are you in a union? They are the best people to advise you usually.

  7. shabmum

    shabmum New commenter

    I did call Oh and they said I could ask the doc there to do a report without disclosing the condition.

    I'm worried that with my upcoming surgery they could take me onto stage 2 and then dismissal etc in the future
  8. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I suppose anything is possible.

    But you need the surgery now and you should cross that bridge when you come to it.

    Looked at as a neutral? School needs an employee who's there. You are entitled to fair treatment.

    School can only do what their own policy and the law entitled them to do. And you have many rights too.

    Get on with what you need. Your surgery can't be delayed or you'll have further complications to deal with. School did what many workplaces would have done and asked you politely if you could defer it. But you can't.

    There is nothing to be gained by going down the 'what if' path at this time. It won't help your mental state.

    If not in a union then join. Upgrade your home insurance to include legal cover in the event you need it for legal representation. But that's very unlikely.

    You have a protected characteristic and school are just doing what they do because you have had a lot of time off. Please don't worry.
  9. shabmum

    shabmum New commenter

    Anyone else
  10. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Sooo the people who have already posted pretty long posts, with advice, aren't enough?
    Ahh well...

    Tell us what you hoped to read and someone will type it for you.
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  11. ilovesooty

    ilovesooty Star commenter

    You have to declare your condition to receive appropriate support and reasonable adjustments. Sorry but no one is going to say anything different.

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