Working from home - is it a reasonable adjustment

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Working from home - is it a reasonable adjustment

Postby MairiHarper » Sun Apr 21, 2013 4:55 pm

Hi all
I'm looking for thoughts on this situation - I've been off work for four months and I'm now keen to get back if I can. I'm a lecturer which means that I teach one day a week for three months (one term). The rest of the time I do research or marking essays etc. I've asked if I could work from home unless I'm needed in the office for teaching, meetings or training. I'd be happy to arrange 2 days at the office and the other 3 days at home. My employer has said no because it would be inconvenient in case anyone wanted to speak to me on the days I'm not in the office but I think thats what phones and emails are for. Does anyone have a view on whether this might be considered a reasonable adjustment or not? I live 45 minutes from work so the extra one and a half hours would be too much every day, not to mention things like pacing activities being easier at home etc.
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Re: Working from home - is it a reasonable adjustment

Postby Kyomii » Sun Apr 21, 2013 5:22 pm

I presume you are UK based? Do you claim DLA at all? An employer has to make reasonable adjustments for the disabled by law in the workplace, so if they have not done this then your suggestion of working from home is more than reasonable. Tell him you will set skype up for conference with anyone who wants to talk to you, and you will have a dedicated phone number for one to one contact. Tell him it is either this or he will need to start paying for adjustments in the workplace to accommodate you. A disability employment advisor can work alongside you to get the changes/help you work from home. I wouldn't take no for an answer on the home work so use tactics. Technically, they even have to help towards costs for things like a comfy chair etc at home. Good luck!
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Re: Working from home - is it a reasonable adjustment

Postby fibro-lu » Sun Apr 21, 2013 6:06 pm


Hi MH

will give you a bit of a brain storm
no order, no thoughts thought through etc

in the office it's 9 to 5, after 5 you are off work and can "relax"
at home you might put additional pressure onto you if you think you haven't done enough, this could be tricky and might make your symptoms worse

lots of people do their research from home
to assure that you are not interupted every 2 minutes by someone knocking on the office door, phones ringing, people speaking on phone or people talking in the office etc, it might be a good idea to work from home. There is less distraction and it might be easier having to deal with concentration, attention span etc and having breaks etc pacing with many shorter breaks
this could support your argumentation

travelling during rush hour
90 minutes is a lot, in crowded buses or trains, or even driving the car
they might argue that nobody likes that
you could argue that the noise, the smell, the movement, maybe even standing etc would be too much to cope 5x per week and being exhausted before even starting work, they could argue that you might be too exhausted to teach on your teaching day?

off work for four month
have you thought of phased return to work
no idea how this could work, maybe half day of teaching to start with?
no research for the first 4 weeks, only do the marking (or the other way around)
only one class instead of two (if that is the case)

marking:
this could be something for the office
you wouldn't have to carry the stuff around with you during rush hour
your home would not be cluttered with it either
you wouldn't be tempted to "do it over the weekend"

short term goal
what about 1 day teaching (or half a day to start with), 1 short day from 11.00 to 2.00 in the office marking, 1 day (or 2 half days) from home for research

longer term goal
what about 1 day teaching, 2 shorter days from 10.30 to 2.30 in the office marking, 2 days home (plus making up time for your shorter days?)

is everybody 5x 9 to 5, or are there people who work already from home? if yes you could use this to support you

how would students/pupils or collegues be able to contact you? Will they have your mobile number? Would it be good to give specific times i.e. 10 to 12 and 2 to 4 (on your days at home) when they can contact you
is there any shared office work, like answering the phone, tidy coffee facilities etc you have to take part

what about the meetings? when are they? how long are they? could you have your short days on those days with meetings?
could the meetings be scheduled before or after lunch break for you to be able to attend them on your short days?

now after the Easter break
are you well enough to go back
I take it, you went off sick just before Christmas and carried on being sick whole of Spring Term?
do you feel pressurized or do you put pressure onto yourself to go back?

have you seen an occupational health doctor? if after the discussion with you, s/he might advises that 2 days office and 3 days home is right for you (or whatever you discussed)
than that could surely be considered reasonable, depending on the duties you all have in the office i.e. answering general phone etc

my head is now spinning :crazy:
hope this helped you a bit

all the best
Lulu
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Re: Working from home - is it a reasonable adjustment

Postby andrew623 » Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:12 pm

Hi MairiHarper,

Lulu makes some good points. In my experience, I would think your request is more than reasonable (although only a Tribunal judge can decide this if unfair dismissal arised). The employer would have to make reasonable adjustments within their scope of things like financial contraints etc. Do your employers actually know that your illness is likely to be covered under the 2010 equality act? Maybe not worth mentioning that yet, but have they ever heard of Skype and other communication links, i.e email? It's well worth you applying formally and covering all the inconveniences that the employer may allude, like how you will be contactable within all the time windows required. Maybe they may see that 'new' technology allows such a setup. I've heard some cases where the employer hasn't got the protocols in place to allow home working i.e payments for broadband/phone/computer setup at home/IT support/insurance etc, but again, it's at the financial and feasability constraints deemed reasonable by the employer. I take it you work in higher education so I wouldn't have thought this would be an issue.

Good Luck,
Andrew.
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Re: Working from home - is it a reasonable adjustment

Postby cameron1 » Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:59 pm

Do you have a copy of your written request to your employers that we could see.

A carefully worded request is often the key to having reasonable adjustments/flexible working accepted.
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Re: Working from home - is it a reasonable adjustment

Postby MairiHarper » Mon Apr 22, 2013 8:40 pm

Yes - this is what I wrote
I have requested that I be allowed to work from home unless required in the office for meetings, teaching or training on the following grounds:

1) It allows for effective rest breaks to alleviate fatigue and to accommodate some of the side effects from the medications I use
2) Use of a hot pack/hot bath helps to alleviate pain throughout the day
3) I live some 30 miles from the university, a journey which usually takes between 30 and 45 minutes. Avoiding the travelling eliminates the physical demands and reduces the length of my working day.
4) It allows me to make use of the productive times in the day, regardless of when these might be. I find I am often most productive early in the morning (4-7am) and working from home at these times would allow an extended rest in the early afternoon, which I find helps me to pace my activities very well.

Thanks for your thoughts
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Re: Working from home - is it a reasonable adjustment

Postby cameron1 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 12:26 am

ok...that helps a little. I am having trouble with my employers at the moment so I'm in a fowl mood and seriously hacked off with employers trying to screw over their disabled staff.

Over the years I have had to do lots of reasonable adjustment/flexible working requests so hopefully you might find something useful from what I learned the hard way. My very first application was rejected outright, and at the time i struggled to see why. But a wise and knowledgeable friend helped me...and I've not had one rejected since.

What you need to remember first and foremost is that it is ALL about meeting "the needs of the business". This supersedes your needs an employee. If your employer can show that your request would have a negative impact on the business, that cant be easily overcome, then they can refuse it.

The potential problems I can see......are you expected to cover lectures for other staff members if they are off sick, have to go home in an emergency etc? They could argue that your working from home 3 days a week places an unfair burden on other members of staff. Also are you meant to be readily available to students for help/support. If that is the case, they may be able to argue that skype/telephone is not an appropriate teacher/student relationship and that the students are entitled to and need face to face contact.

The key to a good request.......don't make it all about you and your needs ie I want I want. Employers hate this.

1. What are you requesting and why?

2. List the benefits to both you (what you posted on here is perfect) But also list the benefits for your employer. The most obvious benefits for them is that is would hopefully result in less sick time thus enabling you to be a reliable and productive member of staff.

3.This is the most important bit because its this part that most effects if the request is granted.............List what negative impact it will have on the business/students and how you propose this could be overcome (if your request is going to cause any problems...be the one to suggest the solution)

For example..... I will not be in the workplace for 3 days out of the working week, however I will be readily available during working hours, via telephone, e-mail and skype. I will also be able attend the workplace where necessary for meetings.

By doing this, you are showing that you have considered the effect your request will have on your employers, but you are also providing a solution to the problem.

Whatever you think you employers might raise as a potential problem, address it in your application and provide a solution or a way the problem can be easily managed.

EVERYTHING must be done it writing. You need to start to compiling a file, so that in the event you feel your employers are being unreasonable and you wish to pursue action, you can prove that you have done everything by the book.

If you get a negative response from your employers, which must be in writing, you want to know in detail why it has been denied AND what adjustments are they willing to make.

But we can deal with that if and when.

If you struggle, I am more than happy to skim read your request before you submit it and give you my thoughts.
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