My employers have taken me through 6 months of hell by threatening me to be dismissed due to ill health. They have made very little adjustments to keep me at work and even stopping Access to work visiting my workplace, when Access to work mentioned a 2 wheeled mobility scooter to help with my role that was refused by my mangers, and recently come to light that my manager refused the scooter as in his words i wanted a scooter, wanting one wasnt true needing one would have helped.
This week i was under the impression they were dismissing me due to ill health but instead have been told i have to return to work on full time hours which they know i can no longer do due to extreme fatigue. Are they allowed by law to do this even though they know i wont be able to do full time hours?
I am so sorry hear that your employer has taken you through 6 months of hell, threatening to dismiss you due to your ill health. I will take some time to go through some of your rights and legal protection as an employee, hopefully this will give you some clarity on your options at work.
In your message you mentioned ill health and fatigue, however it does not clearly state you have been affected by cancer. Please note that the below is written in response that your ill health is due to a cancer diagnosis. If this is not the case, you may need to come back to us if you have not been affected by cancer and instead have a long term, substantial health condition.
If you have a cancer diagnosis you are considered to have a disability under the Equality Act 2010 or Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Northern Ireland). This means your employer should not discriminate against you because of your cancer. Your employer is also under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to help you at work. This protection is lifelong and does not depend on an active cancer diagnosis.
I have attached a link our booklet “Your Rights at Work’”, which explains more about the Equality Act and how you are protected in the workplace.
If Access to Work have recommended a scooter to assist you as a reasonable adjustment at work and your manager has refused this, was this due to cost? Did Access to Work offer to contribute to the cost of purchasing the scooter?
Reasonable adjustments remove or minimise disadvantages experienced by disabled people. Employers must make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled people are not disadvantaged in the workplace. They should also make sure policies and practices do not put disabled people at a disadvantage.
Below are the 3 main questions an employer would need to consider regarding reasonable adjustments that need to be made:
You can request a reasonable adjustment in the workplace, providing you can relate it back to your cancer. Your employer has a duty to consider all reasonable adjustments and a failure to do so could suggest disability discrimination. If your employer rejects a reasonable adjustment request they need to be able to demonstrate why it is “unreasonable” for them to accommodate or it could suggest that you are being treated less favourably as a disabled person. If you feel this applies, it would be advisable to seek further advice as you may need to raise a grievance. It would be helpful to get a copy of the disciplinary and grievance policy at work for reference.
If you feel that part-time hours would be better for you than returning to your full-time hours. You could make a request in writing for reasonable adjustments to help you cope with your job. This could be to ask to work part-time hours to assist you in managing your fatigue, until you are well enough to resume your normal working hours. Remember the reason you have the right to request reasonable adjustments is because you have been affected by cancer. The adjustment you are requesting should help you with a symptom or side effect you are coping with relating to your cancer i.e. fatigue, nerve pain etc.
If you have a union rep you could discuss this with them. I have attached a link to Equality Advisory and Support Service template letters that you can use to request reasonable adjustments (titled “Request to make Reasonable Adjustments”). You can include suggestions about the adjustments you need. It may help to support your request with medical evidence from your doctor, such as a fit note that lists the adjustments you need. Your company may arrange for you to have an Occupational Health assessment to identify reasonable adjustments you may need, this can often help with formalising a back to work plan. If you are still unable to resolve things, then you may need to raise a grievance and it would be advisable to seek further advice at this stage. Please note if you are considering a permanent change to your terms and conditions of your employment, you should contact the Work Support Service for further advice before agreeing to a permanent change.
As mentioned your employer is under a duty to consider all requests for reasonable adjustments and a failure to do so could be disability discrimination. If you are still off sick and unable to give an employer an expected return to work date, an employer may be able to consider instigating capability procedures. If they are looking at this, they should follow a fair procedure including a reasonable return to work date, and any reasonable adjustments that can be put in place to support your return, including alternative job roles if one is available.
If you have worked there at least 2 years (1 year if in Northern Ireland) you also have protection from unfair dismissal. If you are worried about dismissal, it would be advisable to seek specialist advice as soon as possible. We advise you not to resign and seek further advice before taking next steps. The time limit to bring a claim to an Employment Tribunal is 3 months less one day, from the last occasion of discrimination or dismissal. There is further information about fair and unfair dismissals as well as discipline and grievance on the ACAS website in the links above.
I hope you find this information helpful to your situation if you need further support please do not hesitate to contact us back.
Work Support Advisor
Remember you can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or by email.
Hi, thanks for the reply. I was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia in 2016, been with my emplyer for 8 1/2 years and my role is mainly walking with some driving. My manager refused the mobility scooter because, using his words, " i wanted to patrol on a scooter", the scooter would have meant i could do my job as it would have reduced the amount of walking i would be required to do. The only reason he refused it was because he felt i wanted the scooter rather than needed it. I have recently raised a grievance against all 3 of my managers for ongoing bullying, harassment and disability discrimination since my diagnosis.I
have applied for a part time role but it was refused, saying they couldnt find someone else who wanted a part time role. I was then told i need to return to work on full time hours.
Unfortunately i am not in a union. My G. P, today has signed me off work due to stress and anxiety caused by work.
Thank you so much for the further information relating to your on-going work situation. I am sorry to hear that the you are needing to get signed off as unfit for work due to the stress and anxiety caused by your work situation.
As mentioned you have the right to request reasonable adjustments as someone who has been affected by cancer. Reasonable adjustments should help to remove a barrier to work for you and ensure that you are not placed at a disadvantage in the workplace due to your cancer (disability). Your reasonable adjustments have been to reduce your hours and to support you with an aid (a scooters) to do your job. I would recommend using the reasonable adjustment template letter attached in my previous message to formally request the adjustments you require.
If an employer refuses to consider reasonable adjustments or provide a reason as to why it is “unreasonable” for them to accommodate, their actions could be disability discrimination. It may be helpful to also raise a grievance (or add it the outstanding grievance) that you feel your employer has failed to make a reasonable adjustment. They should provide you with an outcome on your grievance following a fair and intendant investigation, in line with your company’s grievance procedure. For you information I have attached a link to the ACAS guide to handling disciplinary and grievance procedure. You mentioned that you have experienced harassment, please note that this is unlawful under the Equality legislation.
If your grievance(s) are not upheld, then normally you have a right to appeal the decision within a strict timeframe. Following this if you are still unhappy with the outcome you would need to consider a claim to an Employment Tribunal, within 3 months less 1 day of the final decision. Please bear in mind when considering a failure to make a reasonable adjustment, a tribunal will consider the cost factor to the employer in their determination.
You mentioned your employer is pressurising you to come back full time, if your employer has access to Occupational Health, it may be helpful to ask for a referral so a plan for your return can be formalised taking into consideration any adjustments you may require. Your GP may also be able to make suggestion on your fit note supporting your request to work part time. Given the length of your employment service, you also have protection against unfair dismissal.
Please do contact us if you need further advice as the Work Support Service work in partnership with a legal organisation called Law Works and, in some instances, can arrange for people affected by cancer to have legal support from an employment solicitor. It is important to be aware, if you are eligible for a referral, this is free, one off legal support so we would want to ensure this is used to gain the best possible outcome for you. If you would want us to see if we are able to refer you to Law Works, we would need to speak to you directly as we require personal details and verbal consent to do so. Please contact the Work Support Team directly on 0808 808 0000, and select options 1, followed by option 2, followed by options 3 to speak to the team.
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