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Employers making life difficult for disabled employees post covid

MW123 Scope Member Posts: 566 Pioneering
I joined my current employer years ago and was extremely  lucky to be fit and healthy when I joined,  and I never took a days sick leave.    Six years ago I was diagnosed with spinal problems, later chronic incurable cancer and heart failure.  I had a happy working relationship with my employer prior covid and worsening illness.

 When covid struck like many of us here, I was classed as extremely clinically vulnerable and had to stay at home. That was when the employer's attitude toward me changed. I obviously went back to work when the restrictions were lifted in the summer of 2020.  Off again for the further lockdown at the end of 2020.  Then in January 2021 it was decided I would work remotely from home. 

My illnesses escalated in 2021 and I found myself  twice that year admitted to  intensive care. The first time for three weeks the second time for a week.  I was due to go back to work on the Monday after the second episode in intensive care but was taken back into hospital two days after discharge with sepsis, not related to my prior illness.

I phoned my employer from the hospital after I learnt I was being discharged after recovering from  sepsis, and told them I would be in the next day as normal.  My employer told me I  had to get proof that the office was a safe environment for me to be in.  I said it was not a problem, I could get proof and I would continue to work from home as I had been doing until the matter was resolved.  To my amazement he told me due to the nature of my job it had been decided in my absence that  in future my job would now be office based only.  My remote link from home to the office had been terminated.   Many other staff can still work remotely from home if they wish.  Admittedly they work in a completely different field to my job but the option is now denied me.  

The saga continued for  three weeks of me providing proof that the office was a safe environment for me to return, the company kept stalling my return.   Eventually,   I returned to work to find my own private office which I had occupied for years had been given to another member of staff. In future I was to share an office with another colleague.  All my files were just dumped in heaps on my new desk in the new shared office.   I really felt like I was being punished for being ill and they did not want me to be there, I have never felt so humiliated.  I have carried on working for my employer, even though I really felt like walking out that day.   I am older now and with my hospital appointments I would find it difficult to get employment elsewhere.

The DWP now want more disabled people to return to work.
Employers are not required by law to allow workers to attend medical appointments in work time.  Things are also less clear cut if the appointments are connected with a condition that might be a disability, but again nothing is set in stone.  I have not had a weeks holiday in six years.  All my yearly holiday allowance (apart from bank holidays) have to be used for medical treatments or appointments. 

 My own experience as a healthy employee was positive and enjoyable.  My experience with the same company as a chronically sick disabled employee has been the most miserable I have ever encountered.  I know not all employers are the same and there are some good ones out there. I considered my employer kind and caring until my illness and covid affected his company.  

I would be interested to know what others experiences with their employers have been.


  • Alex_Alumni
    Alex_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,562 Disability Gamechanger
    I'm so sorry to read about what's been happening with your employer since Covid @MW123 this sounds pretty dispiriting to say the least! 

    I wonder if ACAS might be able to help or offer some support. They have great information and guidance about disability at work, as well as what to do if you feel you've been discriminated against because of your disability or long-term health condition.

    Before Covid, I've had experiences with previous employers where reasonable adjustments put in place or offered really haven't been workable, but since Covid, my work has been entirely remote.

    I'm sure our members will resonate with your experience, so hopefully they'll share thoughts with you soon. 

    Let us know if we can do anything else to help :) 
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