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Reasonable Adjustments under the Equality Act 2010

AnnetteTurbuttAnnetteTurbutt Member Posts: 11 Listener

Hi there

My name is Annette and this is my first post, so please bear with me if I should make any mistakes.

The background to me joining, is that my wonderful daughter-in-law was diagnosed last year, at the age of 38 with epilepsy, having suffered the first of her seizures on the way home from work, and was found unconscious in the road. She then had two further seizures at work, and on one of those occasions was taken to hospital again. The diagnosis followed.

It is about her employment I am seeking some advice. She works as a dental nurse, and has been employed at the same practice for the past twenty years, and felt she had a very good relationship with her employer. She is employed full time and finishes at different times each day, the latest 7pm on a Wednesday, but it can be 8pm depending if any last minute clients are booked in. Whilst her full seizures are under control with medication, she is still experiencing partial seizures which her consultant is monitoring. These seem to happen when she is tired or stressed, and have happened more frequently with more severity of late.

With this is mind she wrote a letter to her employer requesting that she permanently reduce her hours by two a week, in order that she finished at 17:30 each day on Monday to Thursday. She finishes at 1pm on a Friday. This would enable her to finish when she is already feeling tired, and get home and eat her meals at a regular time, and relax before bedtime. Her main concern was that she works on a Wednesday alone on the reception desk from 6pm-7pm and often later, and is anxious that if a seizure were to happen, there is nobody with her who could help her in any way.

There was a meeting with the employer and practice manager, and she was told that she could finish at that time, but it would have to come out of her annual leave entitlement or any accrued overtime, and that she would still have to go on the rota and work some Wednesdays, and do the odd Saturday, which she doesn't do at present. As it is, her 6 visits a year to the hospital, consisting of two a year for her brain scans, and four to see her consultant or nurse, all have to come out of her holiday entitlement or any accrued overtime. To be honest she was rather upset when she was told that "they wouldn't do that for everyone" and "they would not be told what hours she would work", none of which helped her stress levels. Following this, she was so stressed her GP signed her off work for a fortnight - prior to her seizures starting her sickness record was exemplary. When she returned to work and asked about her hours, she was told to put it in writing  - again!

It would seem to me that they have no idea of the effect these partial seizures have on her, and do not appreciate that it is the tiredness that is causing them to happen. When she was off sick she had none, and yet only a few days back at work and she had one at the end of her working day. I am thinking that with her epilepsy, she would be classified as a disabled person, but not 100% sure?

She is in the process of compiling a letter again, and is requesting, a permanent reduction of two hours a week for the reasons stated, that her sickness absence through epilepsy is kept separate from her general sickness (she is never off sick otherwise), and finally, that they consider giving her paid time off to attend her hospital appointments, which they don't do for any of their employees. Is this a reasonable ask, or are they right to refuse her, or at least say it has to come out of her holiday?

I am sorry for the long post, but I wanted to make sure I included everything. I would be grateful for any advice you could give, in order that she knows whether she has a reasonable case when this letter to her employer is given to them.

Annette 

Replies

  • janer1967janer1967 Member Posts: 9,286 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi I used to work in hr so can answer some of this.
    Yes epilepsy would be recognised and covered in the equality act and employer would be obligiged to consider reasonable adjustments but that have to be able to accommodate them e.g. they still have to be able to operate the business . Your daughters request doesn't seem unreasonable. I would suggest involvement of occupational health adviser who do assessments and make recommendations .
    As for paid time off for appts not many employers do this some do but no legal requirement to do so most let you make time up or take from holiday 
    Finally would be best to get advice and support from acas that is what they are there for they have website. 

    Hope this helps a bit 
  • AilsAils Member Posts: 2,268 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @AnnetteTurbutt and welcome to the Community.  It sounds as though your daughter-in-law has been going through a very stressful time with her work and her seizures.  I am very sorry to hear this.  Please don't apologise for the length of your post as indeed, you want to write about the whole experience and thank you for sharing with us.  I don't have an answer for this myself, but there will be a member of the Community or one of the team who should be able to help you with this.  The only thing I can think of at the moment is have you contacted your local Citizen's Advice Bureau to get advice on this?  
    Winner of the Scope New Volunteer Award 2019.   :)
  • AnnetteTurbuttAnnetteTurbutt Member Posts: 11 Listener

    Many thanks for your quick reply, and your helpful comments.

    I am under the impression that it would not have any detrimental effect on the business, especially as they agreed to it if she took it out of her holiday. It is quite a large practice, and employ a good many people.

    She has spoken to ACAS, who think her request is reasonable, and are willing to get involved once all avenues have been explored with her employer.

    I just want to make sure she is in possession of all the correct facts before she commits anything to writing and hands it in.

    Many thanks

  • AilsAils Member Posts: 2,268 Disability Gamechanger
    Glad your daughter-in-law has spoken to ACAS.  They are very helpful as I have contacted them in the past.  I am sure one of our members or team will be able to advise you.  You are very welcome for the reply.  Best of luck to you and your daughter-in-law.  :smile:
    Winner of the Scope New Volunteer Award 2019.   :)
  • AnnetteTurbuttAnnetteTurbutt Member Posts: 11 Listener

    Thanks for your welcome Alls.

    Indeed it has been stressful for her, but she has been so brave and uncomplaining through it all, even going back to work after the first seizure before she should, still with a broken collar bone and ribs, because she is that conscientious! That's why all this has been so upsetting for her.

    She has contacted ACAS, and I believe that will be her best route if all else fails.


  • AnnetteTurbuttAnnetteTurbutt Member Posts: 11 Listener
    Thanks you so much Alls, you are very kind.
  • AilsAils Member Posts: 2,268 Disability Gamechanger
    Oh gosh, she has been through a lot, hasn't she?  What a shame.  I hope this all gets sorted out for her very soon.  Yes, ACAS are very good and were very helpful when I was going through problems in a past job.  All the best.  :smile:
    Winner of the Scope New Volunteer Award 2019.   :)
  • steve51steve51 Member Posts: 7,175 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @AnnetteTurbutt

    Good Afternoon & Welcome to our Community/family.

    I am one of a number of Community Champion’s here at Scope.

    I would be very very happy in helping/supporting you with things!!!!!

    Yes I have had similar problems in terms of work!!!!!

    Please please let me know how I can “help/ support” you both with your current problems???!

    @steve51
  • AnnetteTurbuttAnnetteTurbutt Member Posts: 11 Listener

    Hi @ steve51

    Many thanks for your message, it is very kind of you.

    I have today helped my daughter-in-law compose her letter of 'Reasonable Adjustments', which she will take in to work tomorrow.  Then I guess we will have to wait and see their response.

    She has also asked in the letter when she will get her duties back. She was off sick for two weeks because their attitude towards her had caused her such stress, that her partial seizures had increased. Her GP wanted to sign her off for a month, but her being diligent as ever would only accept two weeks. Fair enough, they had to cover her work, but on returning - and she has been back almost a fortnight, she still hasn't returned to her normal duties. When she asked, she was told that the boss was on holiday, and she would have to wait his return, which is tomorrow. But from the practice schedule, she can see she is not been assigned her normal role.

    I feel that if they won't agree to reducing her hours by two a week, which isn't a huge ask in my opinion, then she will have to involve ACAS to mediate for her.

    Do you have any thoughts on the situation Steve?



  • steve51steve51 Member Posts: 7,175 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @AnnetteTurbutt

    That’s my Pleasure.

    I had to involve “Access to Work”  to help me in returning initially.

    They “assessed” where I “worked” & gave my “employer” a list of “adjustments” that I required to return “back”

    I was the talk of the office though as I had a brand new large monitor for my “pc”

    They even sorted out some taxis for me to use at a reduced rate to get me too & from work.

    Pease please let me know how things go tomorrow!!!!!!

    Good Luck.

    @steve51
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 7,954

    Scope community team

    Hi @AnnetteTurbutt. Welcome to the community and I'm sorry to read this. In addition to the suggestions here, you might also want to try EASS
    Please let us know how things go!
    Senior Community Partner
    Scope

    Your feedback is really important to the development of the online community, so please remember to complete our online community annual survey
  • AnnetteTurbuttAnnetteTurbutt Member Posts: 11 Listener

    Many thanks for your post and for your suggestion.

    My daughter-in-law handed her letter in this morning, and I am waiting to hear, although I wouldn't be surprised if they kicked it down the road a bit, so to speak, and make her wait.

    Unfortunately the stress of it all is not helping her condition, but she is a strong girl and hopefully it won't lead to anpother 'episode' for her.

    I will post when I know the outcome.

    Many thanks

  • AnnetteTurbuttAnnetteTurbutt Member Posts: 11 Listener

    Good evening.

    I thought I would just, as promised, update @Adrian_Scope and @steve51 of the current position, as I have just heard from my daughter-in-law.

    Having given her letter to the Practice Manager first thing, who then p_assed it to the dentist my d-I-l works for in the mornings, who is the son of the owner (the owner doesn't want to deal directly with it apparently!). She hadn't heard anything by lunchtime so asked what was happening, to be told from the Practice Manager that he needs time to digest it.

    She is having to take a day's leave tomorrow as she has to see her Consultant, and therefore is hoping there may be a possible meeting on Wednesday when she returns.

    He didn't discuss with her about resuming her usual role as the Treatment Co-ordinator, understandably someone else filled in for her when she was off recently, but since returning almost a fortnight ago, the other person continues to fill that role.

    So we look to Wednesday now - I shall update you then!



  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,652 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you for updating us @AnnetteTurbutt and I really hope they become more understanding and are able to sort this for your daughter-in-law, I can't imagine how stressful this must be for her. Fingers crossed for Wednesday!
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  • AnnetteTurbuttAnnetteTurbutt Member Posts: 11 Listener

    Thank you @Chloe_Scope for sending a message.

    It is certainly a stressful time for her and we hope things get sorted swiftly - hopefully by tomorrow when she returns to work, but I am not holding my breath!

  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,652 Disability Gamechanger
    No problem at all, I hope so too @AnnetteTurbutt!
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  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 7,954

    Scope community team

    I hope it goes well today @AnnetteTurbutt.
    Senior Community Partner
    Scope

    Your feedback is really important to the development of the online community, so please remember to complete our online community annual survey
  • AnnetteTurbuttAnnetteTurbutt Member Posts: 11 Listener

    Thank you, @Adrian_Scope and Chloe_Scope

    I will let you know either way.

  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,652 Disability Gamechanger
    Thanks @AnnetteTurbutt, I'll keep my fingers crossed!
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  • AnnetteTurbuttAnnetteTurbutt Member Posts: 11 Listener
    edited July 2019

    Hi Adrian_Scope and Chloe_Scope

    Sorry not to have got back to you both yesterday evening, but I was chatting with my daughter-in-law for most of the time, and it got a bit late.

    Ok, things did not go well! Out of the blue with absolutely no idea it was coming, she was issued with a written warning!! Apparently last week, the woman who has now taken over her duties was siting at the reception desk when my DIL, (who I shall now refer to in future as K), got back from lunch. K asked for her seat back so she could attend to a patient, and that was it. According to her employer she said to the woman, "do you want my chair as well as my job". K refused to accept the written warning as she said that is completely untrue, and they are saying it was not told to them by the woman but by other staff and two so called patients, which is all a fabrication. When she told them she would not accept it, they told her they would put that to one side. However, I have told her that she needs to find if , as far as they are concerned it its active or not, and then, if it is we will have to deal with that to. I thought there were certain procedures an employer had to go through before a written warning was issued, and can you be given a written warning on the hearsay of others, even if those "others" do not exist?

    Her request for paid time to attend her medical appointments was denied, no surprise there, and her request for separate record keeping of any absence due to her epilepsy was granted, after first telling her they didn't know what that meant. The most important request was of course cutting down her hours. Now they have changed the rules to say two people now have to be on reception, and if someone can cover, she can go at 5.30pm, but that won't become part of her contract, she'll have to wait and see on the day, which means she won't know what hours she'll be doing from one day to the next. He told her that he had spoken to a 'top end solicitor' and she "hadn't got a leg to stand on'., as well as she shouldn't believe everything she reads on the internet, even existing laws, apparently! But clearly something must have been said because he told her a panic button would be installed on the reception desk, and a CCTV camera linked to his phone. But as she doesn't usually get any warnings, I don't see how that will work, and if he is dealing upstairs with a patient, how can he keep checking his phone!

    The separate issue of returning to her usual duties, was also a negative outcome, as he said the job of Treatment Co-ordinator never existed - even though K has emails referring to her as just that, and the fact someone else is now doing that role. When challenged, he said it would be too stressful for her, however she has performed these duties for some time, and never had any part or full seizures, as these duties are up until lunchtime, when she is not tired.

    So that's where we are, and now I have to assist her with what she should do next. Needless to say she was very distressed last night, and feels they are trying to push her out, all because she has dared to ask for a reduction in her hours. She also fears that the written warning has been conjured up to use against her to force her out.

    I apologise for the long post, but there was a lot to convey, but I and K would be grateful for any advice on where we go from here.

    Many thanks

  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 7,954

    Scope community team

    edited July 2019
    Hello @AnnetteTurbutt.
    Thank you for coming back to update us and I'm so sorry the meeting went badly, I can only imagine how frustrating and upsetting this has been for you both. 

    From what you've said, it does sound like they are trying to push her out. I presume she's not part of any union that might be able to advocate for her? 
    If not, I'd strongly suggest you get in touch with Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) or ACAS as soon as possible and ask for their involvement. From experience, EASS are slightly better versed in disability employment but there's no harm in contacting them both.

    Really would like to know how this works out for you and for K. Please stay in touch and if you need any advice, we'll do what we can to help.
    Senior Community Partner
    Scope

    Your feedback is really important to the development of the online community, so please remember to complete our online community annual survey
  • janer1967janer1967 Member Posts: 9,286 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi 
    They cannot issue a warning without completing a full investigation and then giving notice of a disciplinary hearing and giving a right to representation apart from all the other stuff. Find out if warning still stands if so appeal and also if it doesn't stand put in grievance 
    Contact acas for advice 
  • robt1066robt1066 Member Posts: 33 Courageous
    Agree 100% re advice given to contact EASS - they are excellent. Phone # is  0808 800 0082.
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,652 Disability Gamechanger
    Morning @AnnetteTurbutt, I just wanted to check in to see how you and K were doing :)
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  • AnnetteTurbuttAnnetteTurbutt Member Posts: 11 Listener

     Morning Chloe_Scope

    Thanks for the message. There has been nothing much to report at the moment. Kelly has been allowed to leave at 5:30pm on a couple of days this week, but on the other two days has had to stay until just after 6pm, due to sickness absence from other members of staff, including the woman that is now doing her job! 

    Her Consultant is preparing a letter for Kelly, outlining the details of her condition and how it affects her, and supporting her request for a shorter working week of two hours. Supposedly, everyone is getting a new contract of employment, so ACAS have suggested she waits until all the relevant new paperwork is to hand, and we will go from their. She is also awaiting a copy of the minutes of the meeting they had, which was promised within 14 days. so a few more days to go yet for that deadline.

    They retracted the disciplinary letter in the end, which if they had any sense, and had really taken any legal advice, as they said they had, would know that was completely out of line.

    I will be in touch when all the paperwork is with Kelly, but in the meantime, many thanks for your concern, it is appreciated.



  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,652 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @AnnetteTurbutt, that all sounds quite promising! I'm glad you've been able to get support from people and that the warning has been taken away. Like you said, it was completely out of line!
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