Reasonable Adjustments under the Equality Act 2010
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.