Marc Gander - The Consumer Survival Handbook


A 220 page introduction to all things consumer related by our own BankFodder.

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Patricia Pearl - Small Claims Procedure - A Practical Guide


An excellent guide for the layperson in how to use the County Court - a must if you are intending to start a claim.

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  1. #1
    Basic Account Holder GardenShedTrinkets Novitiate



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    Default Possible Mental Health Discrimination

    Hi,

    New to the forum, so please be gentle - I'm not in a good place at the moment. It has taken me days to pluck the courage to seek help on this.

    This is a little long, but I'll do my best to be brief.

    Started new job role in September 2016, after being made redundanticon from a role I loved. In the December 2016 I started experiencing increased anxiety and OCD issues, visited GP and was placed on a waiting list for a mental health referral. After a telephone consultation with Mental Health Unit I was deemed low risk - I work, wash myself and generally 'function' like a normal person.
    March/April 2016, issue became more severe and spent two days off work speaking to Samaritans. Visited different GP who immediately referred me to local mental health unit as a high risk patient. I have been under that unit since then with weekly appointments.

    Wr agreed weekly appointments as they discovered through treatment that working was an important part of my character and anything that could jeopardize this would have detrimental affect on fragile mental state.

    It is fair to say that the Unit have never experienced any like myself as they're not used to what they describe as a 'high function' mental health patient; that is I work and look 'normal' but behind the scenes fall apart. I did have a diagnoses of bipolar disorder over 20 years ago, but this was different. Have now been diagnosed with OCD and anxiety so severe I'm classed as disabled under the Equalities Act.

    Upon returning to work, during my return to work I explained everything with a line manager. And we agreed that I could have the weekly appointments, so long as the time was paid back and it caused little disruption.

    Everything has gone well until recently. In December 2016 HR became involved due to absence levels affecting the 'Bradford Score' making it really high. HR got involved and had a medical report from my psychologist, explained I am disabled and work need to make necessary adjustments.

    These adjustments are more around office temperature and asking people not to spray perfumes on the office floor - I work in a call centre. And, to issue a parking pass to reduce anxiety levels.
    Work is so hot that I sweat, it causes and OCD reaction and I often go home at lunch for a shower and fresh set of clothing, for example.

    I've had no occupational health referral. I still have to email daily to get the heating turned down - from 23/24 degrees at my desk.

    One aspect of my role I cannot do due to my OCD is ask customers to complete a survey to get feedback as the feedback will be about me. HR and myself have spoken about this and they were going to request another medical report to support this. However, this hasn't happened due to line manager leaving and HR wanting to wait for new manager. Not doing surveys has lost me an annual bonus and payrise. Doing them causes distress and self-harm.

    Also, they advertised for the line manager for my team, I have applied. They are announcing who has the role. I haven't even been told if I had an interview or not, as my application shows as pending. Everyone else has been told this. I even know who has the role.

    Last week, I had what I describe as a 'turn', after several days of having emails ignored asking for the heating to be turned down to it actually being increased last Thursday, I lost it. During afternoon break during a strip wash - I do this very break - I had heat rash all over my chest and my face was bright red due to the heat. I emailed HR and the management demanding they turn the heating down as it was torture for me in work - I actually used that word too.
    Friday I called in sick and was thinking of self-certifying for the week. I'm seeing my psychologist this week. I really dread the thought of going back in, but I'm also scared of the consequences my bradford score is off the charts.

    Any help or advice would be greatly received. Please. And, thank you reading this long post.


  2. #2
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    Default Re: Possible Mental Health Discrimination

    I'm sorry that you feel this way. And I am sorry but the advice won't be what you want to hear.
    You need to find a new job.


    Having a disability does not really give you very much protection at all,
    and the things you are describing here are matters for which you can get only minimal adjustments before they hit up against the requirement to do the job.


    You work in an open plan office - so you cannot have a temperature controlled desk.
    The office has to be an environment for everyone, and that means compromise - for everyone, including you.
    And even if you get some allowance for sickness absence, that is all you will get - an extra few days allowance.


    If your sickness absence is excessive under the system operated by the employer,
    this will eventually lead to capability proceedings,
    and if attendance at work does not improve, you will probably be dismissedicon.
    That's the same for everyone - at best you may get a little leeway, but nothing more.

    As for the feedback survey,
    I'm sorry but that is a business requirement and a fundamental part of your job
    - I cannot see that any reasonable adjustment is feasible.

    I think that you need to talk to your psychologist about whether your attempts to maintain employment for which you do not seem very suited are actually having an adverse impact on your health, because what you are describing sounds like this is the case.


    But in any case, I think you may be well advised to consider a different working environment where you will be able to cope better.
    There is no shame in admitting that a job isn't right for you.
    But you can do yourself a lot of harm by trying to manage in a situation that will never be able to meet your needs.


  3. #3
    Basic Account Holder sgtbush Novitiate



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    Default Re: Possible Mental Health Discrimination

    I empathize with your position but you need to look for alternative employment.
    The Bradford scoring system is outdated anyway for calculating sickness and any company wort its salt stopped using it years ago.
    Just because your classed as disabled under employment law does not mean you wont be dismissedicon under capability.
    Save your sanity and look for an alternative 😁


  4. #4
    Basic Account Holder okokok Novitiate



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    Default Re: Possible Mental Health Discrimination

    So sorry you are going through this. It sounds to me like you are doing really well even if it doesn't feel that way. Keep on keeping on. Why people don't have more consideration for others is beyond me. Its been the same with smoking and even eating peanuts on a plane when it can kill those who have severe allergies.

    Is there any possibility of relocating either to another building or by a window etc? Getting a fan?

    Have you considered that the call centre itself may be causing the problems? Sick building syndrome? Wi-Fi? Some buildings cause anxiety in people from hidden mold etc.

    In general, I feel its best, where possible, to lie or put a strong spin about having any disability because people are prejudiced, its not going to change.


    "One aspect of my role I cannot do due to my OCD is ask customers to complete a survey to get feedback as the feedback will be about me. HR and myself have spoken about this and they were going to request another medical report to support this. However, this hasn't happened due to line manager leaving and HR wanting to wait for new manager. Not doing surveys has lost me an annual bonus and pay rise. Doing them causes distress and self-harm"

    There should be a work-a-round found. Surveys could be done indirectly or via a third party where you still have a fair chance at gaining your bonus for the good customer service you offer. Maybe this is in the pipeline.


  5. #5
    Basic Account Holder okokok Novitiate



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    Default Re: Possible Mental Health Discrimination

    " I did have a diagnoses of bipolar disorder over 20 years ago" Also, it may be worth getting your thyroid and antibodies bloods taken. I have just had mine done with Medi check and discovered Hashimotos (often misdiagnosed as bi polar). Thyroid can cause all these issues etc.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Possible Mental Health Discrimination

    If you are fundamentally unable to do the role - and getting performance feedback in customer role is a fundamental part of the job - then they can dismiss you, even if you are disabled.

    Sounds like you need a role with no client involvement; call centre, with its customers and targets and tight control, is not for you.

    Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Possible Mental Health Discrimination

    Hello GardenShedTrinkets,

    Sorry to hear of what you are going through, speaking as someone who had been in and out of work for over a year due to mental health issues, I sympathise.

    Have you considered looking into or getting in touch with Access To Work? https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work
    They may be able to provide some support for you and your employer to help keep you in work, whether that is through getting a special fan for your desk or through one of their mental health rehabilition organisations.

    Are you on any medication that might be contributing to the excess sweating - some types of medications have this as a well-known side effect. I am on a type of antidepressant that does this, however my medication is currently having its desired impact with my illness, so I have to put up with short sleeves all year round at the moment and a desk fan at this time of year. If you are on similar, it may be worth having another chat with your GP about medication.

    Ultimately though, I would pay attention to the advice about looking for a new job and the fact you can still be dismissedicon - whilst you might be able to get some adjustments go your way, there may still have to be some give-and-take involved and if this is going to mean that you won't be able to do your job, then they can start capability proceedings. Hope it doesn't come to this for you though.

    Good luck, please keep us posted with how you get on.

    Any pearls of wisdom that I give on the CAG forums is based on previous experiences and knowledge I have gained from being on these forums. If you have found any comments to be helpful (mine or anyone else's) please click the star button under the helpful comment so you can help other CAG members with their decision making.
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  8. #8
    Basic Account Holder GardenShedTrinkets Novitiate



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    Default Re: Possible Mental Health Discrimination

    Thank you for the replies. I'll do my best to respond to queries raised.

    Performance wise in my team I ended 2016 the highest salesperson. I deal with training of new starters and do the FCA checks and statistically analysis, the latter two I enjoy as it keeps me busy. The job itself isn't stressful, from a sales perspective it's easy. Only issue is the customer surveys, which ironically our team are under investigation for as the score is too high.

    In other jobs customer feedback was anonymous, so never had to request it directly, even won awards for customer service and travelled the country training teams on delivery of superior customer service. To me doing the best job possible is the only option, I cannot fathom why people only do a good job to get a good feedback survey. It honestly doesn't compute.

    Yes, the environment might not be the best, it's an air-conditioned call centre where we're not allowed to open windows and my desk fans just circulate the already warm dank air. Many people complain about it and out of the other 3 floors my floor is always the hottest.

    Currently looking for new roles now, not having much luck as for some places I have too many skills for non-management roles and can't get a management role as never officially had that title even though done the job.

    Had multiple blood tests, all negative and currently not on medication as the last time it made matters worse, it took a long time to stop self-medicating, I dread to think of being on 'legal' medicines.

    For me, the problem with a mental health disability, is you see the faults, the issues, the consequences but they feed into your despair, making you sicker, fulfilling that self-filled prophecy.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Possible Mental Health Discrimination

    Quote Originally Posted by GardenShedTrinkets View Post
    Thank you for the replies. I'll do my best to respond to queries raised.

    Performance wise in my team I ended 2016 the highest salesperson. I deal with training of new starters and do the FCA checks and statistically analysis, the latter two I enjoy as it keeps me busy. The job itself isn't stressful, from a sales perspective it's easy. Only issue is the customer surveys, which ironically our team are under investigation for as the score is too high.

    In other jobs customer feedback was anonymous, so never had to request it directly, even won awards for customer service and travelled the country training teams on delivery of superior customer service. To me doing the best job possible is the only option, I cannot fathom why people only do a good job to get a good feedback survey. It honestly doesn't compute.

    Yes, the environment might not be the best, it's an air-conditioned call centre where we're not allowed to open windows and my desk fans just circulate the already warm dank air. Many people complain about it and out of the other 3 floors my floor is always the hottest.

    Currently looking for new roles now, not having much luck as for some places I have too many skills for non-management roles and can't get a management role as never officially had that title even though done the job.

    Had multiple blood tests, all negative and currently not on medication as the last time it made matters worse, it took a long time to stop self-medicating, I dread to think of being on 'legal' medicines.

    For me, the problem with a mental health disability, is you see the faults, the issues, the consequences but they feed into your despair, making you sicker, fulfilling that self-filled prophecy.
    I must, I am afraid, add a further comment that probably won't help. I didn't mention it the first time I responded, although I did "think" it. It just seemed like you were so low that it just added to the pressure. But I will now have to mention it. In your OP you said "Have now been diagnosed with OCD and anxiety so severe I'm classed as disabled under the Equalities Act." I don't know who told you that you are classed as disabled, but since "nobody" is classed as disabled "just like that" then your information is very likely incorrect. Disability is described as a condition that has lasted, or will last, at least a year, and which has a significant impact on your ability to function normally on a day to day basis. Now that definition isn't very clear cut, so it means that what a disability is in law is subject to much discussion and interpretation. Effectively, there are two big tests - one is whether you receive PIP (and not all disabled people do), and the other is whether an employment tribunal says you are! So you can actually be disabled to a degree, but not sufficiently to warrant being legally classed as disabled. An example of this might be diabetes - if you need insulin injections that impacts on daily life quite a bit, so that person would generally be considered disabled by a tribunal (but probably not for PIP!); but if, like my sister, it is controlled solely by diet, you aren't disabled.

    The reason I am saying this is because your current condition is less than a year, and now you have also said that you are not on any form of medication. A weekly mental health appointment may not be enough to make you classed as disabled. This doesn't really change very much, because everything we have already told you applies on the basis that you are or may be classed as disabled, and how little protection that actually offers you. But I think that given what you have now said, you need to be aware - it is not necessarily the case, should the employer choose to argue it, that you will be classed as disabled. There is no longer a register to "prove it".

    But I still think that you would be best off finding other employment (unless, of course, the suggestion about a transfer to another location, would work out) - there isn't much about what you describe that will change.


  10. #10
    Basic Account Holder GardenShedTrinkets Novitiate



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    Default Re: Possible Mental Health Discrimination

    Thanks for all the replies. Makes for interesting reading.

    Sangie, I was interested in what you were saying about proof of disability, especially lack of medication or PIP. Medication wise I used to have in the past but suffered adversely to the effects I stopped and found alternative legal methods to cope - it is these that have failed resulting in the most recent bout of illness. The psychologist is happy to support a CBT approach without medication - for now.

    PIP wise, as someone that worked for the CAB I know that could possibly get enough points to be awarded at least the standard living costs, but as you rightly point out it isn't a good measure.

    On a side note I do have another issue which will probably be best placed here as background helps.

    Couple of months ago I applied for two roles in current place of employment; actually one being manager for my current team. Applied on the last day due to being on holidayicon and not really thinking of applying as thought it was a 'fixed game' for either of them. Got interviewed and failed for first role.

    For the manager role, even though application was received in time the hiring manager ignored it. Whilst we did have a system issue that was resolved in plenty of time the hiring manager managed to get the other applications via alternative means. They got them on the first day of the job role being advertised and people applying. They never went back in to check for other applications even though the role was advertised for a week - work have admitted this much.
    Work announced the successful applicants, never acknowledging mine. Raised it with HR who contacted the hiring manager, who wonderfully commented how I have now caused them a problem - of all the people you could say such a comment to, I am not that one, and, yes they knew of my mental health issues. This comment and caused a severe depressive episode resulting in being signed off for 3 weeks. Which as caused a loss of pay.
    The hiring manager was supposed to bench mark my CV to see if should have been interviewed, Upon return to work the hiring manager has left and not comment upon this in their handover. Work have told me to get over it. They have also obtained a second medical report which was supposed to be done 4 months ago.

    What are my options in this regard? I have done a SARicon request and this manager has on multiple occasions requested to file disciplinary proceedings for my illness related absence; but it is worth noting that these requests came after I raised issue with being marked down for the customer surveys and was thinking of raising a grievanceicon.


    Thanks again.

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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Possible Mental Health Discrimination

    Only a court can determine if you have protection under the Equality Act. Everything else - GP notes, Occ Health report - is an opinion.

    Clearly, the manager did not want to hire you for the new job. You can hoop jump as much as you like, but it would not change the outcome; it is easy to find a legit reason to fail someone. If a comment on thie applcation caused a 3 week absence, are you sure you are robust enough to be at work? I am not following how the new medical report relates to your job vacancy query.

    So, you can let it go, or you can pursue a greivance and increase the size of the target on your back.

    People suggested a differnt employer - any steps taken in that direction? You now have a reputation where you are just now, and that can be difficult to shake.

    Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!
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  12. #12
    Basic Account Holder GardenShedTrinkets Novitiate



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    Default Re: Possible Mental Health Discrimination

    Multiple applications outside of my current place of work; issue always seems to be the same - too experienced for entry level roles and never had the title of manager even though I've done the role on multiple occasions.

    The new medical report was supposed to support with not doing customer feedbacks. The medical request form was sign back in May and they've just sent it off in September. I had asked for them to get the reports in June and August but HR never responded to the request, it seems strange to request the reports now after being medically signed off.

    Robust? I like to think I am, this absence is the accumulation of multiple issues; begin denied an opportunity, being told I was now a problem as well as a few other things caused a complete snap. Everyone has a tipping point.

    Guess I'm looking for some help with what to say in a grievanceicon with this. I've been denied an opportunity that would have helped with my mental health, was something I can do as have done the role in the past. I've been denied it either because the manager discriminated against me or was incompetent or a mixture of both. Everyone deserves a fair chance - I haven't.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Possible Mental Health Discrimination

    I would suggest that without union support, it's going to be a stressful exercise in pointlessness. You want them to put their hand up; they won't because you could then go to court. They are going to arse cover all the way, and they have all of the cards. You achieve nothing but being an irritant, which will not get you a promotion/move.

    So. Got a union card?

    Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!
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  14. #14
    Basic Account Holder Good Sister Informative Good Sister Informative Good Sister Informative



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    Default Re: Possible Mental Health Discrimination

    Sorry to hear you're still having problems GardenShedTrinkets.

    However, I cannot see what a grievanceicon is going to achieve. They are not going to take a promotion off of someone else just to put you in place and the fact that you were interviewed for one of the vacancies suggests they haven't discriminated against you.

    Furthermore, all I can see happening is you getting more stressed. You will probably just end up feeling resentful and they will probably see more reason to make your working life difficult.

    Are you sure that a promotion with this company would have been a good thing for your mental health when you are not happy with the way they are dealing with things such as your medical report? Regardless of how they have been running things, if you've needed to take time off for your illness again, you really need to think about whether you should be in that type of environment.

    Any pearls of wisdom that I give on the CAG forums is based on previous experiences and knowledge I have gained from being on these forums. If you have found any comments to be helpful (mine or anyone else's) please click the star button under the helpful comment so you can help other CAG members with their decision making.
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  15. #15
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by GardenShedTrinkets View Post
    Thanks for all the replies. Makes for interesting reading.

    Sangie, I was interested in what you were saying about proof of disability, especially lack of medication or PIP. Medication wise I used to have in the past but suffered adversely to the effects I stopped and found alternative legal methods to cope - it is these that have failed resulting in the most recent bout of illness. The psychologist is happy to support a CBT approach without medication - for now.

    PIP wise, as someone that worked for the CAB I know that could possibly get enough points to be awarded at least the standard living costs, but as you rightly point out it isn't a good measure.

    On a side note I do have another issue which will probably be best placed here as background helps.

    Couple of months ago I applied for two roles in current place of employment; actually one being manager for my current team. Applied on the last day due to being on holidayicon and not really thinking of applying as thought it was a 'fixed game' for either of them. Got interviewed and failed for first role.

    For the manager role, even though application was received in time the hiring manager ignored it. Whilst we did have a system issue that was resolved in plenty of time the hiring manager managed to get the other applications via alternative means. They got them on the first day of the job role being advertised and people applying. They never went back in to check for other applications even though the role was advertised for a week - work have admitted this much.
    Work announced the successful applicants, never acknowledging mine. Raised it with HR who contacted the hiring manager, who wonderfully commented how I have now caused them a problem - of all the people you could say such a comment to, I am not that one, and, yes they knew of my mental health issues. This comment and caused a severe depressive episode resulting in being signed off for 3 weeks. Which as caused a loss of pay.
    The hiring manager was supposed to bench mark my CV to see if should have been interviewed, Upon return to work the hiring manager has left and not comment upon this in their handover. Work have told me to get over it. They have also obtained a second medical report which was supposed to be done 4 months ago.

    What are my options in this regard? I have done a SARicon request and this manager has on multiple occasions requested to file disciplinary proceedings for my illness related absence; but it is worth noting that these requests came after I raised issue with being marked down for the customer surveys and was thinking of raising a grievanceicon.


    Thanks again.
    I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to agree with the others. This is not particularly pleasant for me to say, but you have to be realistic. High sickness absence, issues around capability in certain affects of the job, and the time for weekly appointments? Even if you had no disability, this would cause any employer to pause in respect of a possible promotion. I'm not seeing this as discrimination, because anyone in your circumstances would be unlikely to achieve promotion on this basis. And being disabled, even if that was deemed the case, wouldn't change that. The protections afforded don't include the right to be considered for promotion where others wouldn't be. I think you need to address these issues and "settle" your situation - it doesn't mean that you could never be promoted, but right now is an unrealistic ask given the circumstances.



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