Disability and Work Related Issues

I developed an illness 18 years ago following a car accident, I was diagnosed some 2 years later with CFS which in my case manifests itself with low blood pressure (standing is a major problem as I go dizzy very very quickly) and a fast heart rate. Of course, the 2 are connected because as the blood pressure drops the heart beats faster to try and get the blood pressure up and so becomes a vicious circle. This condition is also called Autonomic Dysfunction.

I spent 6 years virtually housebound, bedridden and in a wheelchair. I have learnt to live with my condition, by no means cured but learned to manage from day to day. In 2011 I was forced by the government to go back to work, I could n long do the job I was qualified to do (I am a trained nurse with 3 nursing qualifications) but unfortunately there aren’t many sit down jobs for a nurse.

I was lucky that my first job was as a carer but sitting with people with dementia while their partners went out, I only worked a maximum of 12 hours a week but it was good to get back into work even though most days I did feel like death.

In 2013 I saw an advert that a new supermarket was open, why not I thought a job on the checkouts, meeting people every day, talking to people sounded like a good idea. It was for a major PLC and they had a sickness policy for my illness

I might add that the whole time I worked for them, I was dismissed in September 2017 NOT once did they adhere to the policy for my illness.

The policy stipulated I should be placed near a toilet (my manager constantly had a problem with me being placed there)

I should have had extra breaks …… never happened sometimes I had to wait over 4 hours for a break

Any absences to do with my illness should have been void of having a warning, I passed out at home and cut my mouth resulting in stitches took 2 days off work and was given a verbal warning for doing so

I was covered by the Equality Act from Day 1 …….not once was it adhered too

The policy for my illness clearly stated that unsteadiness on feet was a prime symptom, this didn’t stop my boss from asking me if I had Gin in my water bottle ( I might add I have been alcohol intolerant ever since having this illness)

I had a bout of sickness one night in October 2016 was up most of the night vomiting so the next morning I phoned in sick, I knew I was ok to go sick as I hadn’t been off for 10 months so was under the 3% necessary to get a meeting with my manager

When I returned to work the next day my manager called me for a meeting and said that there was a new policy in place now and when people went off sick they would now be dismissing people like me

This was like the beginning of the end for me, one thing with this illness is the body does not respond well to stress, I began to be very stressed, worried I would be ill, my customers noticed the change in me and kept asking what was wrong. My manager belittled me at every opportunity, I was shouted at in front of customers for wearing fingerless hand warmers (low blood pressure makes your hands very cold and your fingertips numb)

When I had my 1:1 she would say that she had heard bad things about me but would never elaborate. Then I was told that a manager wanted me dismissed for being rude to his partner, I actually knew the person in question and just couldn’t understand why they would have said that?

My symptoms continued to get worse I started to dread going into work, my heaty rate was going faster and faster I wasn’t sleeping till finally on 30th December 2016 I was sent home from work ill. I went straight to the doctor and put off work immediately. Then I heard the bitchiness goes off sick and her husband was back half an hour later with a sicknote……erm yes he was back with a sick note because I was ILL

With 2 weeks of me being off, I was called in for a meeting with my boss dismissal was mentioned and I was referred to Fit For Work, not once did they look at the sickness policy for my illness

I went through the Fit for Work process and they said I’d obviously had a major relapse and should stay off until my sicknote expired in March and they would speak to me again. I was called in for monthly meetings which I struggled to get in for (the sickness policy advised home visits should have been done for my illness)

I was getting no better, I was put off sick until May, Fit For Work advised some things to be put in place for me to return, these were NOT carried out by my managers

In April I was forced to return to work, I cut my hours right down I was not paying NI I was not eligible for sick pay, bad things were still being said and done by my manager. I documented all these things all were sent to the union. Some of my colleagues used to record conversations they had with the manager, at times I now wish I had done this

I lasted 6 weeks then I was off sick again, my last working day was June 8th, I found out I had been dismissed by a message from a colleague on social media……I didn’t receive the letter from my company until 10 days later 😦

I was invited to meetings in July and August I wrote to the company to say I wasn’t well enough to attend, not once was I offered a home visit

My advice to anyone in my situation, seek legal advice before it gets to the point of dismissal, don’t allow people to bully you on the workplace, think of the long-term effects on your health

I would never want to return to my job, I won’t even spend money in that PLC anymore or step foot in any store belonging to them. I’m not the only bad story to come out of there but I am one of the only ones who stood up for myself. This I will discuss in another posting

End of another month

The doctor has put me off sick for another  4 weeks I don’t think I’m going to be able to return to work. I now realise that when I was off sick the beginning of the year my Managers should not have put me through a formal sickness process now that I have read the new sickness policy from September 2016 it states

This process is used for all sickness absence apart from long-term, terminal or underlying health conditions (see
the section on Long Term Absence for more information).

As my illness was an underlying health condition I should not have been called in every 4 weeks, in fact, these meetings probably had an adverse effect on my health and even from the 1st meeting I was given the date of the final meeting and told this would be dismissal I was reminded of this at every meeting,  I was referred to Fitforwork at my very first meeting , this did not bother me at all as I knew I was ill and I think my Managers were hoping Fitforwork were going to send me immediately back in …….. this, of course, did not happen and I was given a Fit note from them until mid-May. My managers not happy with this then mentioned the word dismissal again and “forced” me back to work, taking no notice whatsoever of the Return To Work programme that Fitforwork recommended. I cut my hours down myself as I knew that I could not manage the hours I was on before sickness, this has left me not paying any National Insurance not being eligible for SSP and I am now in the process of trying to claim ESA

I have had no contact with work since I have been off apart from me phoning to say I have another sick note etc

Life wasn’t easy when I did go back. I was constantly being called up to the office for one thing or another, there was a VERY long walk from the car park to my work that I really couldn’t manage due to the tachycardia and low blood pressure, were they bothered? Not at all.

I was dizzy constantly, my manager did ask me one day how I was feeling I said very dizzy, she said you haven’t got Gin in that water bottle have you…………..totally inappropriate I think, her idea of a joke? Sorry I wasn’t feeling it I felt totally humiliated by this

I really do not want to go back to work even if I had some miraculous cure overnight I feel I cannot go back to work for this company. I know I am not the only one that feels like this and I know that other people have left too because of the way they have been treated and nothing is done about it.

My pay has been wrong for the last 4-5 months I keep getting an adjustment in dribs and drabs but now finally I have the Payroll Head Office address and with the help of an accountant friend I will pursue it via that channel.

I might add that my company knew when I was taken on that I was disabled, my references also stated this. Why employ disabled people and then treat them unfairly?

Not a pleasant read I’m sure but an honest one.