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Disability status at work-any advice????

SueDSSueD Posts: 545
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Lower Back Pain

I'm not sure if you are aware of my situation, but very quickly, I'm going to have an interview at work next Tuesday (because we are off on half term here in the UK at the moment). I'm being formally given a 'verbal warning' for my sickness record - I've had 3 separate incidents of sickness in 2 months and this has hit the 'trigger points' in the local authority I work for.

My question is: If I completed my application form stating that I DO consider myself to be disabled, but they never followed this up with occupational health appointments etc. is the onus on me to prove my disability, or should they have further investigated after reading my application form to ensure they were happy I was fit for the job?

I understand (now) that if my time off was for 'disability' reasons, then this would not count towards my sickness trigger points. However, I don't know if the school I work for adopts the same Disability policy as the Council in general (I will need to read their manual when I go back to work-but there is insufficient time before my interview). I'm also aware that I should have had regular reviews to ensure things were OK under the Disability Discrimination Act and to see if any 'reasonable adjustments' could be made. I did not know anything about this as I hardly ever see my Line Manager, let alone talk to her!

If anyone in the UK has any advice I would be very grateful to read it. I have been so careful over the years NOT to have time off due to my back issues, that I'm annoyed with myself for hitting the trigger points, but it's something that is unavoidable at times. I had 2 separate days off in March (one of which related to side-effects from the medication I was taking for back/leg pain) and then 3 days off in April, with back pain.

I do hope someone can help me as I'm worried about possibly losing my job in the long term (especially as I'm on the waiting list for a 2-level PLIF). Any comments would be very helpful I'm sure.

Thanks you guys/gals!
2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!


  • Hi there-
    I am not sure about all the rules etc but I would hope they would not sack you because of this.
    I too have the same sort of worries - I started a job in Sept 2009, had 6 weeks off in Jan after an opp and just had to have another week off with a bad back. I am just hoping they are understanding. I am not sure if we would be classed as having a disability - though I would say we do!
    Sorry I cant help but have a good look on the internet.

    Good luck
  • Sue,

    I'm in the US and over here we have what is called "American's with Disability Act" [ADA]. Not sure what you all might have over there. But... over here (might be of help?) if a person is hired with a known disability, they are asserting that they can 'accommodate' said individual in keeping with the ADA. With that stated, they can't then turn around and kick you out for the very disability they hired you with!

    In the UK, do the folks at the Occupational Health give or offer any advice? It sounds like our ADA might be similar to your "Disability Discrimination Act?" Just a thought. Take care.

    Ps.. In many jobs over here, time taken with doctors for the disability may go towards your sick leave earned, but aren't gigged against you like "I have the flu, can't come in" sick leave.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Sue,
    Having notified your employer the onus is for them to review your current situation with the new information that you provided at the time and although the company policy has been initiated that is usually procedural, your initial disclosure should as you said, have started a process with the OH department and perhaps that would be a good starting point.

    You should not blame yourself for something that you did not know, are you in the union and you need representation at your interview and evidence of dates and time to support your current status.

    All long term patients are under scrutiny and subject to company policy on sickness records, to some extent you are being aligned with all employees as opposed to your eligibility as disabled or notification of a pre-existing condition, it is always a grey area of thinking we may be able to perform at the required level when the reality differs from that as time goes on.

    Did you visit your GP for any of your three separate incidents, an initial one may be under self certification? It may well be how stringent they are in providing reasonable adjustment, the good thing is that you informed them and you would have thought they would have initiated some face to face meeting. Did you notify them in writing it may have been an oversight and this meeting an opportunity for both sides to bring some clarity to the situation.

    Good luck and get some specific advice and support.

    Take care. John

  • I have digested all your comments, thanks! I have emailed my Union today and have familiarised myself with our works 'Absence policy' which relates to Disability. Unfortunately I didn't actually use the term 'relating to my disability' when I had the 3 days off due to back pain in April. But then again, why would I? I didn't know anything about 'disability sick leave' and that it was different to ordinary sick leave. Why don't they tell you about these things - I did clearly state that I considered myself to be disabled, but never heard anything back from them. Oh well, we live and learn I suppose.

    I will wait and see what my Union representative suggests - I just wanted to thank you all for your comments. They were very helpful indeed.

    Bye for now
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
  • to mention that I did actually have a 'telephone consultation' with a local doctor at the time I went off sick (not my regular GP though) - but I didn't visit him at the surgery because I didn't feel it was worth disturbing him for back pain, which I'm familiar with on a daily basis. I just needed advice on what extra medication I could take to clear it up asap so that I could return to work quickly.

    Sorry, I forgot that bit.

    See ya!
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
  • Not sure how this translates to England but here are a few ideas.

    - here you have a legal right to have a union rep present anytime you feel your job is in question. If you boss calls you in about day to day stuff and then starts talking about job performance you have the right to stop talking and request your rep be present.

    - time off can be switched. I was forced to use vacation time when I was out because they had taken away my sick time. When it was straightened out they did a swap taking away sick time and giving back vacation. Same may apply for your "disability time"

    - Check with the doc and see if they made a note on your chart that you called. This would just serve as proof that you consulted your doc about back pain.

    If that is all the time you have taken I wouldn't worry too much. I would talk to the union rep and see what they think. Maybe you could put a letter into your file explaining that you have ongoing pain.

    I do understand how upsetting this is. I have had two surgeries in the past year along with all the doctors visits before and after. I try to schedule them after work but that isn't always possible. Add to that a daughter who had to have tubes put in her ear and has chronic bronchitis/sinus problems. I keep expecting to get layed off and the waiting is horrid.
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