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Occupational Health And Chronic Illness

Discussion in 'Health and wellbeing' started by FeatherCat, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. FeatherCat

    FeatherCat New commenter


    I have a chronic illness which I was diagnosed with in January 2015. I am covered by the Equality Act. I was told, after requesting an appointment with Occupational Health, that I would benefit from going part time. I rejected this.

    Currently, I have become more ill, and am now being investigated for a second condition which relates to my fertility and also means another cycle of treatments. I suffer from a lot of pain, a restricted diet and interrupted sleep. My condition is invisible, as is the next one I am likely to have.

    I have requested another Occupational Health appointment, and only just taken on a managerial post three months ago. I am worried that-

    1) I will lose my TLR position
    2) Occupational health may not suggest part time hours for me
    3) That my part time request will be rejected
    4) The Occupational Health appointment is via phonecall, and therefore means it won't be as helpful.

    Please can anyone with experience of these situations advise me? I have made my line manager aware of the situation, and said I am going to apply for part time hours. I am still working fully- despite no quality of life, and getting very little (if any) sleep. I am very good at my job and they have assured me they want to keep me, but depends on the powers-that-be. I love my school as well- so rare! But my energy levels are extremely low and I'm really saddened by all of this. I spent Christmas in hospital. Every half term I'm sick.

    Something needed to give and I'm terrified of the outcome if I am not acknowledged.
  2. rayondesoleil1976

    rayondesoleil1976 Occasional commenter

    Hi Feathercat,
    I read your post but don't have anything useful to say. I'm in a similar situation with long term health issues that can flare up from time to time. Any time I have needed a little extra support my school has been very helpful and supportive - not having to cover extra classes, not having to do breaktime supervisions and being able to go home at the end of the day when I had free periods. Currently I am having to take a couple of days off each month for other reasons - thankfully it's all being dealt with and I am looking forward to not having to worry about that any more. Keep your communication open with your line managers and people who need to know - I prefer to be private. Most people are sympathetic, others less so when they see whatever accommodation has been made or you taking more time off to attend appointments. I always wonder would they be as keen if they had the illness as well.

    Under the Equality Act, employers are expected to make reasonable adjustments to keep you in employment. Despite our challenges, we still have a lot to contribute to our jobs and workplaces. I am so grateful to be well enough to work. I hope you will get some constructive advice and help. Maybe you can keep us posted about how your appointment went.
  3. malcontent76

    malcontent76 New commenter

    Hi FeatherCat,

    I was in this position about 7 years back. I was asked by my school to give up my TLR as they could see I would not be able to manage it even on my return. I hesitated for some weeks - fear of losing income, pride threatened as I was sure I'd recover - but I did resign from that role as I felt they were correct.

    I found my first Occ. Health assessment to be unhelpful. They had a checklist and they worked through it so that a 4 week phased return was proposed in -line with 20% in week one 40% in week 2, 60%, 80% then 100% because that's how she'd been taught it. It didn't matter that it didn't work with my condition. What I've learnt from that is to speak up. If it's not going to work then say so clearly. I've relapsed again (many times) and am currently in a new role going though this again. Occ. Health don't mind always mind you making suggestions or guiding them to reasonable adjustments. If it won't help you make sure you're clear about that.

    I had a very prolonged return to work, worked reduced timetable for a long time, got a nearby parking space but haven't taught A' Level classes since and didn't teach GCSE there again either as they were worried about long term impact on my students (hence the new role). Tell them that you no longer feel capable of full time work. I think I'm heading that route too now, and long term will have to leave teaching.

    Your employers would rather have you at work teaching something than off sick for tremendous amounts of time. Part-time is something they can adapt to. Plus there's' only about a term left for them to cover this for. Be bold and ask. Certainly surrendering your TLR may encourage them to support that decision but you don't have to do so. Just keep in mind what the practical arrangements for that shared role would be.
    Generally they'll be looking at:
    · the reason for, and cause of absence;
    · on-going medical concerns or risks that may interfere with work-related duties;
    · anything the Manager or the school can do to help;
    · anything the employee can do to avoid future occurrences of the absence;
    · whether the employee is fit to return to work;
    · short-term adjustments that may aid the employee’s return to full duties;
    · if there is a pattern to the absence;
    · how long the person was absent;
    · whether advice from other sources is appropriate e.g. OH or HR.

    I'd advice you to speak to your union rep if you're a member and always do that before it gets to the troublesome stage - so early as you can. Meanwhile prepare for this. List out your symptoms, consider where and how it impacts on your role and think about what reasonable adjustments the school can actually make. Is a day working from home doing marking (anyone's) a possibility? If you don;t ask you won't get.

    Good luck to you and I hope you recover and manage it well.


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