1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Occupation health after being called 'erratic'

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by pbryant13, Dec 5, 2018.

  1. pbryant13

    pbryant13 New commenter


    So, I had a conversation where I was told there were concerns around my behaviour as I had been seen crying, and that there were concerns about me being erratic. I admit I did cry, once. I was stressed and in a lot of pain from a long standing health issue, which has been fully disclosed.

    I was spoken to again and told they want to refer me to occ health. I had a report last year in my old school, but this is a new one. I am concerned as I know that technically the law is on my side (disability declared), but I am under so much pressure. I have had 2 days off sick, 1 medical appointment and family leave, and that is too high. I am scared they will get rid of me, and make me unemployable.

    I know occ health is meant to be on my side, but I am worried that the school will use it against me. Any suggestions?
  2. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Just go to OH. If you're in tears at work then it's perfectly possible that adaptations do need to be made.

    I can see that school has rather rubbed you up the wrong way by the use of the word "erratic". They certainly could and should have been more diplomatic. But this referral to OH can only be a good thing.

    It's what a concerned employer should do. OK, they may be more concerned about your attendance than about your emotional and physical welfare but they are playing it by the book. It's OK.

    Just tell them you thought "erratic" was a bit loaded and made you feel anxious so you'd rather they discussed your needs and potential vulnerability. Pick whatever phrase you think suitable and ask them to use it. "Erratic" conjures up visions of a drunk!
  3. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    Go to your doctor and if possible, try and cry in front of them, thereby having a medical record of you being distressed at the thought of being gotten rid off when you were crying in pain. The doctor's letter, if or when needed will be useful. You need to be seen to be professionally managing your health condition as the school have to weigh your disability and your needs with the physical and emotional well being of the pupils, i.e. it is distressing to morale to see a teacher upset etc., so being disabled does not automatically mean the law is on your side. It is how a judge views things, if it ever get to that. Another factor is what can the school do to help you and have they done this? Again your doctor or consultant should be able to advise you on this. A medical professional's opinion has to be listened to by OH, so I would try and get some ideas as to what support you want, before you see OH so that you could prove you are attempting to professionally deal with your health condition.

    I have a disability and I know from experience how it works. You say your health has been causing problems. Ask your doctor to refer you to the nearest Pains Clinic in the hospital where a specialist Pains Nurse will assess how you are managing your pain and whether there is a better strategy for you which may include medications, physical therapies, psychological therapies, machines etc. I have a friend who has injections into his spine frequently and it has given him a new lease of life. I hope things don't have to be like that for you though.

    Working with a disability does not give you many concessions. Despite having a disability, we have to perform as if we did not. I have been in excruciating pain this week, taking my pain medications at full dosage and drinking THICK coffee to overcome the side effects i.e. being drowsy and faking it, i.e. pretending all is fine with the universe. It's called survival.

    Also ring your union and try and get in touch with the Disabled Teachers Forum. There is one in every union and there use to be a system whereby if you told them what your condition was, another teacher with a similar condition could give advice on teaching with the condition.

    Also Google your condition and managing pain. Another factor with pain is depression, I mean, it's so easy to get depressed when in pain and that also accompanies fatigue. so you have to work on your diet and your mindset to cope with all of these factors. The Pains Nurse can help you with all these.

    Good luck and don't expect the worst. They may really genuinely want to help you and if they don't, having gone through the processes above, you will be in a stronger legal position should you need to use it, and I hope you won't.:)
  4. Over_the_hill

    Over_the_hill Star commenter

    I went to Occupational Health and they were very supportive and we went through a list of what I needed to do. It was extremely helpful and I really felt that she had my interests at heart. Don’t fear them.
    agathamorse and grumpydogwoman like this.
  5. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    Occupy health ARE neutral and are supportive, but beware: my dump of a school used their generally supportive report to argue that I was now ‘well enough to face formal capability proceedings.’ Which was nice. It slows things down. Stat planning for several different alternatives. Do not trust senior management. Or HR.
    agathamorse likes this.
  6. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    Don't be too sure. OH might have been instructed to state you were well enough to face formal capability proceedings and may have pleaded in vain that you weren't and their decision overridden.

    Always remember OH are employed by the school and are there as a legal backup to state that the school is doing 'everything to accommodate the vulnerable individual.' :rolleyes: I have had OH tell me this confidentially.

    I personally don't trust ANYONE paid by the school, even the independent OH referral companies some use. Your GPs and consultants are who you can trust and when needed, a letter from them, which will cost between £30 to £50 will be worth it's weight in gold.
    Summerhols6 likes this.
  7. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    A timely warning, @catbefriender. I was referred to OH, where the doctor disagreed with a diagnosis of eczema, made by a consultant dermatologist! My GP had warned me that OH might query that the condition was due to WRS, by she was dumbfounded when it disagreed with the physical diagnosis. This caused no end of problems, of the pantomime 'Oh yes it is - oh no it's not' variety.
    agathamorse likes this.
  8. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    How can a mere doctor dare
    a. question anything written by a Consultant and
    b. question a Consultant's diagnosis?

    A truly ridiculous situation. Are you sure the OH person was a real doctor, or was it just someone with a white coat and a stethoscope? Everyone knows that when one is stressed an underlying medical condition can come to the fore.

    Whenever I go to see OH, I always ask, 'Are you a trained doctor/nurse?' Some of them don't even have a medical or scientific qualification.

    I once had OH question my consultant's diagnosis with management stating, 'Well Cat can easily fool her doctors, but can't fool me,' and I told the consultant and she responded by writing another letter, this one even MORE detailed. I asked how much it would be, she said she would do it for free because she was so insulted at having her professional opinion questioned by mere teachers.:oops:

    'Do any of them have a medical qualification?' she asked. 'No,' I said, 'they were all teachers.' She was dumbfounded. Shaking her head and asking herself, 'How can a teacher question a Consultant's opinion?'
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
    ATfan and agathamorse like this.
  9. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    OH was fine until I started legal proceedings against my head. At that stage you find out they are there for the employer. Formal complaints had been made against them by other people in a similar situation. They are not your GP and I’d be careful with what you choose to share with them.
    catbefriender and agathamorse like this.
  10. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    If this is literally all youve done, cried when in pain and taken 2 days(!) off OH sounds like an absolute sledgehammer to crack a nut (although don't fear OH, Ive seen them before they are neutral.)
  11. Saffron5

    Saffron5 New commenter

    This post has really struck a cord with me pain and disability is so difficult when others don't or can't understand and as teachers we are on stage all day exhausting in itself.
    I too am disabled in loads of pain and recently seen by OH, I have taken the decision to go off sick as I found myself crying in the morning at the thought of the pain the day would bring and the sheer exhaustion and this was not just school days. OH nurse was really good and I was completely honest with her she could plainly see I was struggling I couldn't even sit for the whole meeting i had to lean on a file cabinet because of pain so given up for now. Chronic pain is so horrible even with all my pain meds and new one just added which I have to build up I'm still struggling I see pain clinic doctor next week but I'm already on his waiting list for radio frequency denerveation again so not sure what else he can do
    I'm worried I will lose my job because of absence and I do appreciate the schools position but you only live once and right now I'm not living im existing
    ATfan, catbefriender and agathamorse like this.
  12. ATfan

    ATfan Star commenter

    @catbefriender Can you advise me on how I should write to an OH doctor if I think that the report is incorrect and feel that I need more adjustments? Do I have the right to question it and ask for more adjustments? I ask because I've had a 2nd OHR and it's still wrong (I didn't question the first one because my previous managers were supportive, understood the nature of my chronic pain condition and used their discretion to give me more adjustments, so I was advised not to question it. My current managers do not understand my needs and want everything in black and white. Hence, the 2nd referral). The OH company has done everything through my GP and what the OH doc wrote on both reports did not match the info that my GP, back specialist and I provided). Thanks
  13. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    I would go to the union and seek advice. If possible, ask your GP for a referral to a Consultant Rheumatologist or whatever the medical specialist you need to see is. If you went to a chiropractor or osteopath they are often ignored by an OH as it is obvious you are paying them and they are not as respected enough though they cost the earth! Don't answer on here, but have you ever been to a consultant in a hospital for back pain or have you only been to your GP and a back specialist? A consultant's letter always has more clout and perhaps you may be referred for x-rays etc. And you could also ask your doctor for a referral to your local Pains Clinic.

    Let me pay devil's advocate here. A teacher states they are in pain and needs more help. All the school and OH has is a GP stating, 'Peter complains of pain' and a private chiropractor/osteopath agreeing the same. Can you see they are not going to take it as seriously as a letter from Mrs Consultant whatever from Where you Live Hospital stating Peter has X and perhaps also, Y and Z and the X-rays show this and that, and you need this and that put in place.

    Hopefully your union rep is good and can look at both reports and see what your doctor recommends and what the OH doctor is overriding and why. The ultimate authority is a consultant and you could wait up to 6 months to see one, depending on where you live, or go to one privately. It makes a difference to say, 'Peter suffers from so and so and this is causing him chronic back pain,' rather than a letter stating, 'Peter suffers from chronic back pain.'

    If you are in pain, the school will have to make adjustments and by making those adjustments it will inconvenience them. What the OH is doing may already be unlawful, however only an expert would know. But when fighting the reasonable adjustments battle, try to get someone with a lot of clout in your corner.

    Also, the adjustments you need, need to be looked at carefully by the union member to see if they are indeed reasonable. You can not use this forum for this as it is extremely confidential and by stating what you need, can easily identify you. Remember to ask your union if they can put you in touch with your disabled teachers forum union representative, who hopefully will be able to offer some advice.

    From the school's perspective it's always, if we give Peter these concessions, everyone else will request it.

    Hope you get it sorted and soon.
    ATfan likes this.
  14. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    Saffron, ring up the Education and Support Partnership and Samaritans and have a good moan. As I have said before disability, depression and anxiety are best friends and when one is bothering you, one or the other two do, so you have to give yourself a break from cycle of perpetual worrying, because that does not aid recovery.

    If there is a way you can be in less pain, i.e. lying in bed all day or sitting on the sofa with your feet up, just do it. Organise yourself so you can do as little physical work as you can. You can call your local occupational therapy team, just Google your area and Occupational Therapy and see if you can get some adjustments in your home to help you out, so that it is easier to
    cook meals
    get out of bed
    get into a bath etc.

    Don't think about the job. You are off sick and Christmas is around the corner. The treatment the pains doctor is going to undertake may make all the difference.

    Wishing you the best of luck!:)
    ATfan likes this.
  15. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    I try to make erratic a strength. Keep the ******* guessing.
    ATfan and Mermaid7 like this.

Share This Page