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Hi All

It's been a while since I've posted, but I've not been far, I suppose Christmas and family stuff has been taking precedence :-)

I'm now rapidly approaching my "Anny-Versary" and am frustrated still to be off work, for some reason I'm really dreading the 8th Jan, don't know why, it's not like it's about to happen again, it's just the whole thing keeps rattling round my head, I wish I could explain it to my wife, but the whole thing sounds stupid even to me!

Anyway, enough about that, I wanted to let off some steam about my employer, I've been trying to sort out a back to work programme for some time now, unfortunately they are being somewhat less than helpful...

How's this for an extract of an email

"Our responsibilities do not extend to helping employees recover in the workplace. We have ample work that needs to be performed by you when you are fit and able to perform the work to the acceptable level of ability prior to your illness. Your doctor may very well have an input as to how many hours you can perform at this level. We would have to seek medical advice to understand how someone who is supposed to be fully fit and able to return to work is not able to obtain a fully functional driving license. However this would not preclude you from using public transport."

I'm not sure how to respond to this one....If I'm not as good as new, I might as well join the scrap heap, and as for not understanding why I don't have a driving licence, well that's beyond me.

Looks like I may be about to go down a disability discrimination route, that's the last thing I wanted after the last 12 months, wish I had an understanding and enlightened employer!!!

Hope you are all well

Take Care

Adam

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How pig headedand ignorent are your employers, don't they realise that epilepsy stops you from driving.

It appears that they want you there full time and will not allow a gradual return to work, that is very wrong.

I would let them take advice from a doctor, but make sure it is from a specialist who knows about SAH. Non specialists seem to be very limited in their knowledge of "after effects"

Are you in a union, they could help. There is also an adviser at Job Centre Plus who can help with back to work issues including Access to Work where DWP provide and pay for taxis to get you there and home.

If you are going to use the discrimination route, try your local Law Centre, the work on discrimination issues free of charge.

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Hi Adam.

There is no legal requirement for your employer to give you a flexible return to work, and unfortunately, a lot depends on their attitude to their employees. Most employers value their employees enough to be flexible, but it appears that your employer does not, which is sad.

The following is a guide for employers, a quote from which states that they should not "make assumptions about your employee’s situation or their medical circumstances"

http://www.hse.gov.uk/Msd/campaigns/pdf/managingabsence.pdf

The following link contains some general information:

http://www.areturntowork.co.uk/after-illness-can-you-work-part-time-during-recovery.html

Hope this helps.

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Think we've all had that dread heading towards our 1st anni-versary know I did and I had it again last year when I was heading towards my 10th.....strengly enough.....

Yep not surprised you are at a wonder how to respond. But I doubt your far from going onto the scrap heap Adam, bet there's lots you can do.....

enjoy the 8th and think how far you have come since then....

take care

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Adam, I am really sorry to hear that your employers are treating you in this manner.

I know its hard. I didn't expect to be off work for over a year either and it is very frightening being in limbo neither feeling as good as before the SAH nor knowing if/when you can return to work in the post you previously held.

But there is a lot of information and support available on this website. Please try and see if your GP can refer you to occupational health people who specialise in neuro patients. Services are patchy across the country but if you are met with a no, try and push to see if your local hospital have stroke dept. who will have OH specialists who can liaise with your employers on your behalf. I think most of the problem with both employers and people in general is ignorance, not malice.

Just don't give up!

Oh and congratulations. You are a survivor! Enjoy yourself on the 8th.

Leo x

(hope this makes sense as am tired and need a break now)

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Hi Adam

Sorry just caught up with posts...so sorry your employers are being really unhelpful i hope you have help and advice...my employers started pushing me after about a year but i am unable to return to work due to my disibilities but even so i found it a very hard thing to go through...and come to terms with i hope you get something sorted soon, take care.

Michelle c xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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Hi Adam only just read your post, very nice people are they not, if you have an o/t ask them to put you in touch with the shaw trust, they specialise in negotiating a return to work plan and if your employer claims this will cause them out of pocket expenses they are a government sponsored organisation and will even cover their cost this is the information Merrills o/t gave us, she said if and when Merrill returns to work it would be under the supervision of the Shaw trust, Hope that might help a little ,Best wishes Rod

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Hi Adam

Sorry to hear you are going through it with your employer. I had trouble with mine too in the fact that they letme do phased return but wanted me to return to ft in 6 weeks. I did it but then feel apart quicklyafterwards and ended up off for months and eventually got pushed out of teaching by my consultant etc. I wish you lots of luck cos anything like me I didn't have the energy to fight.

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Hello Adam,

As if you haven't had enough to contend with, your now facing barriers to work. I searched the internet and came across the following website which talks about epilepsy and employment. Also, Headway maybe helpful for some free advice? It does sound iffy (discriminatory) that your work will not make adjustments to accomodate you.. If your epilpesy put you or others at risk then health and safety maybe a reason but I don't really know anything about the legal side of this. Here are the details below but you may have enough information from others.

http://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/AboutEpilepsy/Livingwithepilepsy/Employment/Employees

or

Headway - Free helpline 0808 800 2244. helpline@headway.org.uk

Hope you get all the right information and support you need. Let us know what happens?

Best wishes,

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Hi Adam

I can fully appreciate a lack of understanding from managers. I returned to work, on phased return basis, in December. Unfortunately I don't find the doctor I see at Occy health particulary supportive or understanding. However, my office manager is not particularly suportive either. I feel I'm being put under pressure.

On Tuesday an OT did a workplace assessment. She was lovely, very understanding and encouraging. When she finished the assessment my manager got ladled into her (in front of me and 3 others!). My manager complained that she's used to phased returns having a start and a finish, she's never heard of it being open ended! When I said the doc said it could take 6 months, she said NO! She said she was stuck in the middle of this and was unable to allocate my hours?!! I've no idea what she meant by this. I reminded her that is was ME stuck in the middle and this was about my health! The OT was furious but handled it very well and I think was glad to go.

Just before my shift finished, my manager came to me with a schedule. She wants me to increase my hours by six every two weeks which will have me back at 35 hours from the end of March. I tried to explain to her that if I do too much I get headaches and feel unwell. I was blanked. I then told her that I would be back to the hospital for an angiogram in February. She rolled her eyes! I have to discuss this schedule with the Occy H doc on Tuesday when I see him. I felt completely crushed. I'm starting to feel that my health is a nuisance to the running of the office.

My colleagues are wonderful. They were shocked. They have been so supportive and understanding. I couldn't speak to my family on Tuesday without getting very teary, in fact I'm getting teary writing this. We have a couple of temps covering the hours that I don't work. One of them gave me a lift home on Thursday. She was lovely. She told me I was doing amazingly well but she also said she notices a lack of compassion from the office supervisor and manager. So it's not me being sensitive. We don't know each other as she was given this job last July, when I was on sick leave.

But my lovely husband said something on Tuesday that he had no idea how important it was. When I said that prior to my SAH I would have faced goliath but now I just crumble. He then said that he can see the "old me" starting to come back!

Liz xx

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Goodmorning Liz,

Your manager sounds like an '----'. It surprises me the amount of '------' there are working in the NHS. Sorry to have to say it but its true. I am wondering if you are able to get yourself another occy health appointment and explain the pressure your manager is placing you under despite the OT's recommendations. If your not supported properly you could end up going off sick again and that will leave them short. Staff well-being is important in order to reduce staff sickness, getting people into work and keeping them there is key. Your manager sounds like she doesn't have the time to support you and this is part of her job. I am so sorry your going through this. Are you in a union?

Best wishes,

Keep in touch

Mel

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Hi Mel

I asked the OT on Tuesday did I have to see the doc. She checked my file and said yes because it was a manager referral?! I think I've got that right, it was our ultimate manager, the acting head of nursing, that did the referal. However, I see my GP on Monday and will let him know everything and if I still feel unsupported on Tuesday by the doc then I'll ask to speak to someoe else. But it's all so exhausting, how do people cope without family support!

And it can be true that the worse place to work with health issues is a hospital! I told her my aim was not to be sick, her reply was that it's a bit unrealistic not to ger sick. I told her that would be a failure, she didn't get it. I joined the union last year. Even putting the SAH aside, she knows I have high blood pressure, which in itself can cause someone go off sick!!

What none of them seem to see is that I am highly motivated,have been from the start of recovery. But I have decided they don't deserve me :) I have very good refrences and am a hard worker. Once I'm back to 35 hours and coping I'm going to look for anther job, probably part time. That's my goal.

Thank you so much Mel.

Liz

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Hi Liz

Sorry to hear that those who should be giving you the support on your return to work are being so unsupportive. I think Mel is right if you have a Union Rep now is the time to be sounding them out. Your employer has to adhere to the Disability Discrimination Act when considering your circumstances.

I had very understanding employers when I returned to work but unfortunately due to the permanent nerve pain I only ever managed to get up to 30 hours a week. I then had to cut back twice and now only work 20 hours over 4 days.

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Hi Janet

It makes such a difference when they're understanding. The girls in the office are so lovely and understanding, they completely get it, and becuase of them I cope. My manager made it quite clear on Tuesday that her sympathies lie with animals!! We all know one don't we!!

Thank you Janet.

Liz xxx

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Hey Liz

They were very understanding at first but are now keeping a file on my absences so after my latest bout will probably be on a formal warning for my sickness. We are only officially allowed 8 days due to sickness in a rolling year I have an extra 7 days because of SAH totalling 15. Even with this I will probably have breached amount allowed so as I said will be going back to a formal written warning. Anymore time off in the next 12 months may lead to my dismissal.

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Hi

Janet - good luck when back at work. That's a bit harsh, I understand for most people 8 days a year is more than enough but there are all sorts of conditions, besides SAH, that compromise peoples ability to not get sick!

I'm just back from my appointment with the occy health doc. What a difference!! He's been spoken to is my guess. The occy health head of department is now involved! He was so supportive that he made me cry! My husband came with me because I was getting so stressed about it. The upshot is that he will meet with my manager, HR, the head of OT and explain how things will be. He stressed that it's not a phased return but a rehabilitation programme, that will be assessed as we go along. A huge weight has been taken off my shoulders. I saw my GP yesterday and he was furious. He told me to tell them that he will sign me off if they keep up this pressure and he knows that I don't want that. But I am showing symptoms of stress. He wants to see next Thurs to see how I am am. I think he will see a very different me from yesterday!

This is all thanks to a lovely girl from OH who did the assessment last week and witnessed my manager going off on one. She did say she was going to report back to her line manager and she has. She's a bit of hero for me just now!!

I'm now looking forward to trying 6 hours this Thurs and Friday to see how I cope! This is what a support and understanding does for a body!!

Thanks for the support Janet and Mel.

Liz

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For Janet,

I think you have done well to be back at work 20 hours - thats a huge accomplishment. You say you have nerve pain - this itself must be difficult to manage in addition to adapting to work. Have you had any follow up about your nerve pain?

Very best wishes to you,

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Liz....i wonder how your manager would have coped with what you have been through??? Might be a little more understanding !!! Good luck xx

Janet....i really hope you dont go back to a formal written warning...you have Doctors certificates....just makes me mad, hope all works out ok xx

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Hi

Paul - you have such a lot to deal with but still find time to encourage others. Thank you and I hope all is well with Lin.

Tina - I have wondered the same thinkg but hope she never has to go thorugh anything like this. The lack of empathy is surprising considering she's a nurse! But things are now more positive.

Liz xx

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Hi

Liz how awful what a terrible time you are having for goodness sake how do these managers sleep at night...or maybe not!

Myemployers a primary school where i had the SAH were very supportive and left me alone for a least a year and then it was push push push and of course it was April and the dreaded budget and they had to loose 2 teachers and 2 TA's obviously with my health as it is i had no choice but i tell you it hurts being told you won't be able to go back to work they terminated my contract at the end of July 2009, having said that my occ health was and is lovely and can see how i am and is supporting me through ill health retirement (still waiting for the papers) which i have heard is another battle:roll:.

Anyway good for you Liz you show them who you are a strong woman who has gone through a SAH and come through it and wants to be able to work and why shouldnt you...well done you.

All the best take care

Michelle C xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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Hi Adam,

I just saw this post.

Like Tennissmithy, I had a phased return and was expected to be fully functioning at the end of the six week phased return. I too fell apart not long afterwards. I'd been off work for six months.

I had a rather stressful job as an investigator (Loads of responsibillities, visits to courts, recommendations to prosecute & much more besides.), my olleagues, who were wonderful, didn't understand what I was going through, flitted between patronising ans uncaring.

It seems that employers are a lot less caring than they want everyone to think they are.

I have become really superstitious since my SAH particukarly around the anniversarry (my spellings gone out the window too! :) ) so I wouldn't worry too much about that.

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