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  1. Please, can someone offer me some sound legal advice regarding M.E/CFS and employment law? My situation is that I have officially been diagnosed with CFS (and therefore am most likely covered under the Equality Act 2010) and the condition has meant I have taken quite a bit of time off work in the last few months. This is due in part to me having to 'hide' the condition in fear of my job, something which I have found quite difficult to do, and which has meant no life for the last two years. A change at the top with my employer bought in a more 'sympathetic' viewpoint, but with a culmination of other events in my life which caused me a lot of stress, plus the build up over many months of my condition, CFS really reared it's ugly head. I have had some relapses where I sometimes just can't function and ultimately took time off work. We are allowed 6 weeks per rolling 12 months on full sick pay, but I have been advised I am close to this limit and will go onto SSP if I have any more time off. Fine. However, the informal letter I have received says "I need to sustain a more regular attendance, irrespective of cause, to the adverse effect this can have on service delivery". The letter finishes, "I hope that you will soon be able to return to work (edit note : I already have) and sustain regular attendance to avoid the need for any formal action in this respect". I have no issue with going onto SSP as required, however, I do feel my employer is putting me under undue stress by informally warning/advising/making note, that further absence will result in formal proceedings against me. Under the Equality Act, can they do this? I haven't asked for any special measures at work, I just try to get on with it, and do my best. They are fully aware of my condition, as they even sent me to Occupational Health for assessment! Should I just accept this? Should I ask them precisely what 'formal action' will entail, or am I within my rights to tell them to place it somewhere dark? I really don't feel my employer has been at all fair with me, particularly as the most recent absence which triggered this letter, was down to a serious car accident for which I was not to blame, the circumstances now surrounding which are causing me intense stress, and I am fearful will lead to another CFS relapse. I also suffer with (and am being treated by my GP for) anxiety and depression, and an waiting to see a psychiatrist.My employer also knows this.
  2. I will try to be brief! I had a car accident 5 years ago and have been left with residual issues both physical and emotional. I have been in my current job for 4 years - my manager knew all about my accident issues - inc PTSD when I was hired. For 2 years everything at work was ok and I was offered a promotion in March 2011 - which I took. Since then - things have slowly gone down hill. The additional work responsibilities, hours and increased driving have culminated in my ill health. . . . . Last spring I was off work with stress, anxiety and depression for 7 weeks. Phased return to work followed and then from September I was back into the normal swing of things working 50 hours plus a week which was making me very unwell. I went to my GP and was put on reduced hours - 4 days a week since mid November. However I have not had a reduction in my duties, in fact there has been an increase in my tasks and responsibilities so I am no better off than I was. Work asked me to go to an OHA last week and the report said I should work no more than 28 hours a week - I was a bit shell shocked in the meeting and didn't deport myself very well. I should have said a reduction to 3 days a week as I am not coping with 4 days but I wasn't really in control of the meeting and was overwhelmed. Result is the report is quite soft and urges a "reduction in responsibilities and workload to make 28 hours a week achievable;" . . . Long and short of it is my work have asked me to suggest what reasonable adjustments they can make. I didn't think it was supposed to be that way around, but none the less! So I have made some suggestions hoping that they deem them unreasonable because really I want to leave the job. I have come to terms with the fact that my on-going issues mean it is not good for me to be in a position of responsibility it causes me too much stress and anxiety. However - I am trapped because my solicitor says that I can't resign and that I have to be medically retired or go on long term sick. I want to move on now and don't feel ethically right in dragging things out with work so I want to try and force a compromise. It is not necessarily for financial restitution - although I have been really neglectfully dealt with considering I am very much covered by the Equality Act - but more because I need for my court case to consider future loss of earnings not to have resigned. Before my accident I would definitely have had no problems dealing with the responsibility and workload but now I just can't cope anymore. . . . Can anyone advise me as to how I go about this? I have been honest with my manager and my HR director that I am really struggling with my current situation and do not think this role is right for me anymore but no one is listening to me. I think to be heard and the situation to be taken seriously I will have to raise it but seeing as I can't just resign how do I get myself out of this situation? I just want to be rid of this job because it is really making me ill - I work within child protection for a charity and the responsibility of my job is just too much - I feel on the verge of a breakdown everyday because I just can't cope with making decisions and being in charge of something so potentially serious. Thank you!
  3. Hi, I really hope someone can offer me some advice please! First, a bit of background: I have a somewhat difficult relationship with management at my workplace, I think I am seen as 'trouble'. Partly because I have an illness that falls under disability rules so I have higher absence than they would like, but also because I successfully stuck up for myself when they have attacked me, with the result that many of my colleagues have asked me to attend disciplinary hearings with them and/or have joined the union that helped me. Recently there has been a bit of an undercurrent of 'niggling' at me - picking fault with my performance, falsely accusing me of making inappropriate comments,'accidentally' dismantling the adjustments to my desk so I have to find someone to help me reassemble them when I come in... low level stuff, but to me it feels like borderline harassment and it is unsettling and upsetting. Today I had to go and attend an occupational health assessment. The reason given in my 'invitation' to attend was a general 'so we can see how we can help you'. The reason given by occ health was 'to see whether you are fit to work early shifts again' (I currently do not work early shifts as a reasonable adjustment) but I think the real reason was to try and make trouble for me. This was my third OHS assessment and the third different company. The last two were pretty understanding and even helpful. This one took place in our office and was horrendous... At the time the appointment was arranged I had not had any absence since the previous September although I went off sick on Monday and so actually was off after all when I attended. What I have is a condition called bile acid malabsorption and an unspecified digestive disorder that may just be really disruptive IBS, but tests are still ongoing. But I get severe pain, bloating, chronic diarrhoea and acid reflux. And I also have a chronic anal fissure due to constant diarrhoea, which I have had several surgeries for but my surgeon says now cannot be considered for surgery until the underlying health issues are identified and treated. TMI, I know, sorry for having to share that. TBH I am getting a bit fed up of having to share it with more and more people every time my bosses fancy humiliating me. Anyway... Firstly, the occ health claimed I had said I was suffering from... well, I don't know what. I had literally never heard of whatever it was I am supposed to have said. So straight away she accused me of inventing a diagnosis. Then she asked me to tell her about the consultants I am attending with and what tests I had had, but kept interrupting me with the result that she didn't actually hear half of the medical history at all. At one point when I mentioned having an X-Ray she told me I was being ridiculous and that they wouldn't do an X-Ray for digestive issues, but I'm pretty sure it'll be on file somewhere...Then started telling me that if I hadn't had such-and-such a test then the consultant probably didn't really think there was anything wrong with me! She called the consultant's office at one point to question why the next appointment was so far off. At that point we discovered that a referral I was waiting for - to see a dietician - had not been made by my consultant, and his notes said I was going to ask my GP to refer me. So then she accused me of 'lying' about the referral. She discounted my symptoms, told me I was 'too fat' to have chronic diarrhoea, and said that in her opinion I just need to lose weight. I tried to explain that my weight has ballooned as a result of the illness as the fissure causes pain on exercise and because continence issues mean I am scared to walk. She ignored this and started to lecture me on a healthy diet. I tried pointing out that because of the bile acid malabsorption I had been on an ultra-low-fat diet until recently, but she ignored me. She told me that continence issues weren't relevant, partly because I had acknowledged that this has improved lately (it has, but that doesn't stop you worrying) and partly because I work in a friendly office. Like somehow it'd be okay to s**t myself in public because I get on okay with my co-workers?!?!?! She finished by telling me I needed to accept that illness is the way it is and make the best of things. Which is what I've been trying to do, attending work when I am in no fit state half the time and just trying to hang on to the smallest modicum of dignity and self-respect. Before I left she got me to fill in a form saying she could speak to my GP about me this afternoon. She said if I didn't sign I'd appear unco-operative and that might be held against me - as if I was a criminal!!! After I left I called and told my doctor why I'd signed and she said to call HR and withdraw my consent and that she would decline to speak to them. Anyhow, occ health reckons I'm okay to work mornings, she considers that it is no longer bad enough to constitute a disability and that she is reporting to my employer that I lied about diagnosis and about the dietician referral, even thought I didn't. Which is fine, whatever, I've got no energy left to fight it anymore. They've won, I guess. The union said they don't necessarily need the truth, as long as they've got a report that appears to back them up. I'll get booted out, and end up on benefits because who'd give me a job now? I just don't know what to do. Is there anything I can do at all? Many thanks for your help, and even for reading all of this.
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