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** PLEASE RESPOND ** - every post might help me!!

SueDSSueD Posts: 545
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Chronic Pain
I'm going on holiday soon to visit my daughter for 2 weeks. I need to fully complete an "Application to Voluntary Reduce Working Hours" form at work. This form is complicated and I know that the more I can put on it, the better my case will be for being approved to reduce my working hours - if they are valid reasons of course.

I have been so worried about filling this form in. There is a lady who works in the same team as me who had a temporary arrangement to work one day less each week for the last year. Just before we broke up for the summer holidays (2 weeks ago) they said that because the temporary period has now expired, she is now required to go back up to work five days when she resumes work in September.

I am concerned because, now I want to reduce my own hours on medical grounds, they will automatically say 'no' because this other lady's appeal has since failed. I'm thinking they won't approve my application because they didn't approve hers, and that it might look like favouritism or something.

Since my 2-level fusion last year - and the type of work I do, i.e. working with babies/toddlers (on the floor) as well as constantly bending over to support primary and secondary school kids - my back pain has steadily got worse. I am now on the same medication I had before surgery and as for depression, well, I don't think I need to go there!

Financially it is vital that I carry on working even if it's on reduced hours (I'm hoping for 29 instead of 37 hours) - though I know now that full time is not a realistic option, but I'm at a loss to think of any more things to support my application. So far I have:

Increased back/leg pain
Strong medication affects concentration
No work-life balance
No social life (because I sleep for most of the evening when I get home, therefore, not much relationship with my hubby either)
Fatigue (trying to work full time is totally knocking me out)
I would be a better, happier employee for working 4 days (instead of 5) because I would be rested fully, i.e. on a Wednesday, and could give more of myself on the remaining 4 days.
I would be more confident and my self esteem would improve if I was in less pain having rested more.

If you can think of any more reasons why reducing my working week would help me, I would be so very grateful. I am racking my brains and just cannot think of any more. If YOU wanted to work fewer hours, what would you put down on a form? - how would working fewer hours benefit YOU and how would it benefit your team/service provision?

I have just come to a complete standstill and I've been working on it, off and on, for well over a week now! I know it will spoil my holiday if I cannot get it done beforehand because I will be worrying about it all the time. Am I missing anything that's obvious, but I just cannot see it?

Please can anyone help me further?

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 !!


  • ask at your CAB office .they DO give very good advice {and i thought you were going to ring me ??}
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • Sue- Where do you live? Let me know and I'll be able to answer better.
    ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

    Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

    Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg
  • Hi Sue, I have major sciatica back pain and I have been to many doctors that prescribe narcotics and muscle relaxers but they leave me in a fog and I cannot function but, I cannot function with the pain either! I started looking for natural pain relievers because I was sick of the doctors giving me drugs that honestly did nothing. I feel like I have tried just about everything, the thing that has worked well for me is a pain relief patch called Imbue. I put the patch on my lower back where my sciatica is before bed and I wake up with no pain. I have also tried it for menstrual cramps and works for that too. It is worth a try if you want. I know it has helped me get back to doing what I love!
  • Tony - Oh dear, I'm sorry. I will try before we go away and visit my daughter. Where does the time go???
    Donnabe - South Yorkshire in the UK
    Jenn - I have other issues going on with arthritis in different parts of my body and so, for the moment, the Butrans patches I hope sorts out most of them in one go.

    Please keep your responses coming - I do appreciate any feedback, thank you.

    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 !!
  • First of all, vacation - yes! Enjoy it - no stress/no worries right??!! From my perspective (and working for the gov for 31 years) I have found it best to try and turn this around to how it will be better for your employer to let you go part time. They don't care about you - they care about them, where is their benefit? Even if it's just slight tweaking..
    " I would be a better employee working 4 days (instead of 5) because I would be rested fully, i.e. on a Wednesday, and could give more of myself on the remaining 4 days. I would be more confident and (be able to fully utilize my skills and abilities, therefore providing the best possible service to customers, management, co-workers, etc". Well, that's what I would concentrate on anyway.. Still, you will probably need luck on your side doll. I have been trying to get to work from home in the mornings for over two years and have proved I can do the job but they won't. It's all bulls*t in the end. All it takes is one dickhead to ruin it just because they want too. Good luck!
  • Your comments have helped alot. I did have something similar written down, but it didn't sound half as good as the example you've just given me!

    Thanks doll - ha! my dad used to call me that years ago! Now I'm just 'ragdoll' :(
    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 Sue

    I would be getting your surgeon/gp to also help in this process as you have a long term disability.

    As part of the Equality Act 2010, they have to accommodate you with reduced hours if that is needed.

    You would be benefiting them, through 1. financially. In these times, all government sectors are facing budget cuts. By reducing your hours, the more money they save aswell as a more functional staff member.

    Also, by working less hours now, it may help you to work til a normal retirement age, thus not taking early retirement on medical grounds.

    Hope some of this helps.
    L5/s1 discectomy & decompression 2009
    ALIF l5/s1 2011
    Awaiting X-ray & consultant to see if fused, but experiencing a lot of pain again :( 2013
  • Thanks for your comments 'glassback'.

    I wasn't aware that my employers "have to accommodate me with reduced hours if that is needed" - I was hoping this was the case, but because of the experience of my co-worker (whose appeal was rejected), I do not believe this any more.

    Mouse said that employers don't care about the individual, they only care about themselves and the business. This is true. They can always (and do) get around any situation by saying "it's the needs of the service" that is paramount. Therefore, they can basically do what they want to.

    Because I am the only person doing this particular job in the Local Authority I work in, it's not even as if I can suggest 'job share' as a means of them keeping the full time post going. I think this is why I may experience problems with them accepting my proposals. I do hope not.

    Thanks you for all your valued comments - I will enjoy my holiday and as I've thought numerous times in the past - what will be, will be.

    If anyone has a different take on this, I'd be happy to hear it. Thanks.
    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 !!
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,476
    I want to wish you the best outcome for your situation. I really would like to think each request would be judged on individual basis.
    Love the way Mouse put things..seems like a way to help them understand in their language.

    I could be very wrong...just offering up out there for you...but I'm thinking you might want to be careful re' how much you divulge...like the pain meds and effect on concentration.
    Sadly, so much can later be used against us... a situation comes up and to make life easier for the powers that be, they throw the "medicated altered one" under the bus for being impaired.

    My personal experience..not being sued..but having my work questioned because..."were you on your migraine meds? You're just so forgetful."..when I KNOW she never instructed me to do whatever she's talking about.
    And that was years ago only talking about my migraines.
    Just a thought! and best of luck to you!
    Take care! :)
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Glassyback...Where is there information on the Equality Act of 2010 for the US?

    This was passed in the UK...but I have never heard of this in the US where a business has to provide less hours for someone who has health issues.

    Most jobs are At Will hires...There is the Americans with Disabilities act that was updated in 2011 but that is for certain disabilities and providing handicapped parking, accessible design, service dogs, etc.

    But I don't think there is any type of law that requires an employer to provide a shorter work week to an employee.

    So if you can direct us to information specifically about this in the US..that would be helpful to all..thanks.

  • I don't think there can be a policy which states that disabled employees should be given less hours if they request it. It might be something that can be considered as a "Reasonable adjustment", but there is definitely no onus on the employer to accept it - even if every doctor in the land is supporting you!

    The way it was described to me is this:

    It all depends on the service delivery and how your role fits into this. If the service you provide can be adjusted/re-arranged over 4 days, instead of 5, then you will probably be successful in your applicaton.

    However, if working 5 days cannot possibly be adjusted down to the 4 that you wish to work, then you might be able to suggest job share, or giving less qualified aspects of your role to someone else to do, thereby perhaps freeing up to one days' worth of work (if you see what I mean?) etc. etc. Then you will probably be successful in your application.

    But if your 5 days CANNOT be condensed into 4 and if there is NOBODY who can take over part of your role or share it with you in some way, then your request will be rejected.

    Saving money for the employer is always a factor, especially now with the Government having to save money - but my tiny little wage won't make an iota of difference on the national debt and, in the big scheme of things, on a local level any costs that I save my employer won't mean much. They are only interested in how they can keep their service ticking over and if I am considered to be blocking this process by even a 'smidge', then they will find ways to reject my request.

    As I said before (I think), there is nobody else in our local authority who does my job, which is a shame as I might have had more flexibility then.

    By the way, I have just returned from seeing our "Equality & Diversity Manager" who has given me some advice. He was very helpful and has clarified how I can complete the form more successfully.

    More importantly, though, he talked about our authority's "Supporting Disabled Employees at Work Policy" which I never even knew about. He said my Manager or someone in Human Resources should have given me a copy of this ages ago (which they didn't). It has a form at the back to request "Reasonable adjustments" and he has told me to complete this first - saying that I want to reduce my weekly working hours and why. Then, I can complete the other form (that my Manager wants back asap) in support of my request on the first form. Does all that make sense? I hope so.

    Anyway, I feel alot better now. I know now what I am going to say in the first form for reasonable adjustments and then I can complete the 'reduced hours' form as a back-up. Doing it this way, he said, makes them know without a shadow of doubt that it's disability related and should be viewed a little more favourably than just submitting the one form.

    Phew! I am so looking forward to my holiday now. I'm not even bothering to complete my forms until I get back now (as I'll have one week to play with before I need to go back to work).

    Thank you ALL so much for your very valued comments - I only hope I can return the favour to someone else.

    Bye for now - I'm nearly off on my jollies YAY!!!
    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 !!
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,863
    enjoy the time with your daughter. As the years go bye, it is so important and rewarding to spend time with our children.

    In terms of work, reduction of hours, etc. I really cant comment on how the system works in the UK.. And I guess quite frankly, I can't comment on how the system works here in the USA.

    I've been through the reduction of hours, limited work, etc for almost 32 of my 35 years with IBM.
    Big companies will do almost everything to keep their valuable employees. From 1978 till 2000, I had about 3 1/2 years of "absence" time due to surgeries or flareups. The company always stood behind me.

    Now, in the 2008+ years, the economy has changed, rules are somewhat different. Companies have rules and policies regarding your situation. But honestly, here, I know that if they want to keep you and abide by your restrictions, they will do so...
    But if for whatever reason they dont want you around, they will find ways to eliminate you from their workforce.

    I know that sounds cold and harsh, but in reality it is so very true.

    I do wish the best for you while you are trying to figure out just how to proceed.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • http://www.dol.gov/compliance/laws/comp-fmla.htm

    This is guidance on what I think might help you, it has been a lifesaver for me. FMLA is a form you and your doctor fill out and provide the employer. It affords you up to 240 hours of sick leave (your saved sick leave of course) and 240 of LWOP that they MUST let you take as needed and cannot say a word about it. I did it, and have re-filled the form for the past 3 years. I never needed it before but with this new boss and these bitches I work with I felt the need to protect myself. It is a good option. If you need the forms, I can e-mail them too you, PM me privately and I will send them to you VIA e-mail. I fear that even after 31 years of dedicated service out here, without this little piece of paper, they would have forced me into a medical that I simply cannot afford. I'd lose over half my wages and I've worked too damn hard and long towards a good retirement to let some gov beaurocrat do that to me! You have to take care of yourself, nobody else really gives a shizzle. Take care doll!!
  • You are in the UK? I didn't realize that, I'm sorry, so I'm unsure if this would apply to you, but I would think you would have something similar. I will do some research today and see if I can find anything o.k.
  • http://www.uky.edu/HR/emprel/fmla.html



    Hope some of this might help? I don't have time to go thru it all at work here and see, but hopefully you might get something useful. The first link looks to be the most informative to me.
  • do you have an occupational health department? Ive found them fantastic when it comes to "reasonable adjustments" which include reduced hours.
    L5/s1 discectomy & decompression 2009
    ALIF l5/s1 2011
    Awaiting X-ray & consultant to see if fused, but experiencing a lot of pain again :( 2013
  • Mouse and Glassback. To answer your questions:

    1. We don't have FMLA here in the UK - but we do have protection from the Equalities Act of 2010 (formerly the Disability Discrimination Act). In the UK a person is considered 'disabled' if: their impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to perform normal day-to-day activities. This could be physical or psychological.

    2. For example, I am allowed 'disability' leave when I have hospital appointments, but if I'm off sick due to my back condition, i.e. if I am not FIT to work, then it is classed as 'sick leave' and NOT 'disability leave'. This always confused me, because I always thought being off with back pain WAS due to my disability, therefore, why isn't it classed as 'disability' leave - but hey, what do I know about the term and how employers interpret it. They seem to make up their own rules as they go along!

    3. Glassback - I do agree, our Occupational Health doctor has been so helpful to me. It was HIS suggestion that I drop a day at work and, hopefully, if necessary he can write a supporting letter if it's needed. My doctor will also do this.

    So there are lots of professional people looking after me - including my own surgeon's team. It's just my direct employer I seem to be having problems with. Alot of it is because she "has never had anyone like me before" (her words, not mine) and so, I suppose, she is learning how to deal with someone with a physical problem. It's just that, sometimes, I feel like I'm a guinea pig to her because she has made numerous mistakes along the way and I don't want to lose my job because of her incompetence with following their own protocols and policies.

    I also have SH supporting me - which is brilliant and I thank you all - your comments have really helped me.

    Yippeee, or should I say "Yi-Har" as we're off to America on Monday.

    Thanks again y'all xx
    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 !!
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