Equality Act - clarity on what it means for fibro

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Equality Act - clarity on what it means for fibro

Postby Zia2014 » Thu Dec 11, 2014 10:25 am

Hi all,

I thought this would be useful as a separate post - maybe even a sticky? I'll leave that to the mods to decide :)

So, the first element: The Equality Act 2010 (and it's predecessor, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995) basically say that medical conditions only qualify as being covered under the Act if they have a significant effect on day-to-day activities, which most people with Fibro would say they have.

The Act also requires the condition to be long term, ie. lasting or expected to last more than 12 months. Again, I can't imagine Fibro would not qualify under that rule.

Having said that, when I was being investigated for (for example) hormonal problems, if it had turned out to be one and one pill would have 'solved' it, then it would not have qualified under the Act. Therefore, although I've had Fibro since January, it was only over the summer that it was suspected and in October that it was confirmed. So I could not say I was covered under the EA until my diagnosis had been confirmed.

I am using myself as an example to show how it's not always straightforward, especially for employers if they don't know or are unsure of a diagnosis.

The second element: What employers are required to do. They should (and most do) try and make "reasonable adjustments" to help you. Now this is a key phrase because it is not defined in law. But reasonable rests on what size the organisation is, what resources it has (eg. money), how easily it can for instance provide a chair, whether it can allow you to go part time/change your role. This is important because a lot of small and medium sized organisations do not have the resources to provide endless adjustments.

Another "reasonable adjustment" that *can* be put in place is to alter the trigger points for sickness. So for instance we once had someone who was allowed to have a higher level of sickness, BUT was not allowed to be off sick all the time. And this is really important - a lot of people that I have come across in my working life think coming under the EA means you won't be challenged for absence, but that simply isn't true. Sickness policies can and will be used against people still, it might be that they are modified but they can still be used, you can still be given warnings and you can ultimately still be dismissed fairly - as long as the organisation can prove that they did everything they could.

This is not meant to be scary, but I see/hear this a lot and think it's important that people understand what it really means.

To help you, there are some things you can do:
- consider going part time
- consider another role with less physical and/or mental demands
- contact your trade union rep and occupational health as soon as possible - they are really experienced in these matters and will help you. OH can tell your employer about your condition
- ask questions on here, I don't mind helping

I hope this gives me a bit of help to people, as if you know what it means and how to deal with it I think these sorts of meetings are less scary.
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Re: Equality Act - clarity on what it means for fibro

Postby Timelordess » Thu Dec 11, 2014 11:06 am

This is an awesome thing that can help a lot of people. Although for me, I worked as head waitress and assistant manager in a pub/restaurant, when my health went down. There was no HR dept, no way they could help me. No rests I could take, and no chairs I can sit on, as that's a health and safety hazard. What this wants and is great for, just hinders the roles of people in the leisure/tourism/ food trade.
We ended up having a heart to heart, and we both signed a contract stating that they would say they released me from my contract, and I wouldn't sue them for unfair dismissal, so that I would be able to claim IS.

Probably sounds wrong, but it was the only way we could both go ahead without repercussions. XoxoX
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Re: Equality Act - clarity on what it means for fibro

Postby Zia2014 » Thu Dec 11, 2014 11:50 am

I'm glad you think it can help people Timelordess (great name by the way!).

Yes it is unfortunate that there are circumstances where nothing will help, and the only solution may be to leave. I didn't really want to cover that in my post above because I was talking more about people who are trying to stay in work.

I'm assuming you signed a Compromise/Settlement Agreement? That would be my advice if there really is nothing else and staying is proving difficult, it's also a way to get mutually "paid off" and so can help with finances. It's not wrong at all, in fact it can be extremely valuable as a route, but a lot of people are frightened of asking for one and a lot of employers are still nervous about raising it (despite recent changes making it easier to do so). I would urge anyone in that boat to post here or speak to their union rep/CAB for advice.
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Re: Equality Act - clarity on what it means for fibro

Postby Susan Stokes » Thu Dec 11, 2014 11:58 am

This is the government changing the goal-posts yet again, but thanks for that, I didn't know about the Equality Act 2010. (doesn't sound very equal to me.) My son has a sick-note for three months but they've still made him go and sign on. How can that be right?
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Re: Equality Act - clarity on what it means for fibro

Postby Zia2014 » Thu Dec 11, 2014 12:08 pm

It's not really changed that much between the DDA 1995 and EA 2010, Susan. The definition and adjustments are the same as they always were, it's how the various organisations apply them that differs. I only posted this now because of a question asked on a thread reminded me that many people ask the same thing.

I'm really not sure why they would make him sign on to be honest, that sounds very odd indeed! Is he in the UK and what sort of job does he do?
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Re: Equality Act - clarity on what it means for fibro

Postby carolad » Thu Dec 11, 2014 1:01 pm

That's a useful clarification, Zia2014, thank you for posting :)

This is exactly what I used to back up my request for reduced hours, although my 'disability' is scoliosis, not fibromyalgia. When I saw the Occupational Health Doctor, he said that because it was recorded in my employee notes that I had a disability, this gave me a very good reason for asking for a reduction in hours, since this would be regarded as 'reasonable adjustment'. And my request was granted immediately with no further questions asked. I know other people have applied to have their hours reduced for other reasons and have not been successful, so I do think that having a 'disability' has definitely helped in my case.

As you say though, it depends on how organisations interpret the Act, so I know not all employers will be so understanding. I realise I am one of the lucky ones in working for an enlightened organisation which actively promotes equality for all staff.
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Re: Equality Act - clarity on what it means for fibro

Postby Zia2014 » Thu Dec 11, 2014 1:16 pm

Good to hear it was granted so easily!

As you say, some organisations are brilliant and will do whatever they can. But the better informed we all are about our options, the more likely it is we'll know what to do for the best, and some organisations don't even have HR so there is far less knowledge.
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Re: Equality Act - clarity on what it means for fibro

Postby carolad » Thu Dec 11, 2014 3:04 pm

Zia2014 wrote:Good to hear it was granted so easily!

As you say, some organisations are brilliant and will do whatever they can. But the better informed we all are about our options, the more likely it is we'll know what to do for the best, and some organisations don't even have HR so there is far less knowledge.


Absolutely :)
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Re: Equality Act - clarity on what it means for fibro

Postby denys » Thu Dec 11, 2014 5:22 pm

Great post should help quite a few members who have asked about the EA
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Re: Equality Act - clarity on what it means for fibro

Postby Maryanne » Thu Dec 11, 2014 8:03 pm

Zia2014, Thank you for posting about the Equality Act. :welldone:
Timelordess, like you did, I currently just about work in the tourism and leisure industry ( as a cleaner ) and have had to reduce my hours down to a bare minimum over the last year on my doctors advice. Last week I went to see a Disbility Employment Adviser at the local Jobcentre Plus and was told the exact same thing that you posted, because it would be impossible to accommodate any changes in my specific workplace and the employer can dismiss you, providing a written agreement is made not to take it to tribunal, therefore allowing you to claim benefit, if you are entitled. The Adviser gave me a lot of information and contact details about other options available for finding /re -training for alternative employment. Not hopeful for my future :( and still feeling very confused :-?
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Re: Equality Act - clarity on what it means for fibro

Postby dazzleship » Thu Dec 11, 2014 8:10 pm

zia this is a great post, thank you.

after reading it I feel thankful (not for the first time) that I have very understanding employers who want to help me and want me to stay in my job. :-)
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Re: Equality Act - clarity on what it means for fibro

Postby allthecats » Thu Apr 16, 2015 10:55 pm

This is very good advice
I'm very VERY lucky I have an employer who provided an occ health assessment and are putting changes in place already even though I only have a working diagnosis at present.
Best of luck to everyone :)
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Re: Equality Act - clarity on what it means for fibro

Postby Zia2014 » Sun Apr 19, 2015 5:43 pm

Gosh had forgotten all about this post! :crazy: :mrgreen:

allthecats wrote:This is very good advice
I'm very VERY lucky I have an employer who provided an occ health assessment and are putting changes in place already even though I only have a working diagnosis at present.
Best of luck to everyone :)


That's good to hear :)
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Re: Equality Act - clarity on what it means for fibro

Postby littleone67 » Sun Aug 23, 2015 4:12 pm

hi

can anyone give me advice regarding my employment.

I am a civil servant. I have been doing my current job for five years. I was specifically recruited to work in the call centre. Although I am still meeting all my targets, basically because I am extremely competitive and can't take my foot off the gas pedal, I have had to cut my working hours by 40% and experience a flare of my symptoms after every working day.

The role in some respects is easy...i know my job well, can handle all my queries etc although the brain fog is interfering with word recall and handling all the systems etc. In these respects it is hard and I am experiencing a lot of pain now from the pressure of the headphones. It is demanding for me because there is no way I can pace my own workload or decide when to take my own breaks.

I have asked my employer if I can be transferred to a desk job...one where I have some paperwork than can be worked through at my own pace, where I can take a break cognitively if and when I need to. My employer, ie the Government, the people who passed the Equality Act, will not transfer me to an easier role in the same department. I want to increase my hours because I need the money to survive, but know if I do more hours at my current role it may provoke my symptoms to become even worse. There are other things they are not doing to help me...but where do I stand on this. I consider it a reasonable adjustment for me to ask for this because if I was in my current state of health at the time of applying for jobs, I would not have applied for this one due to the stress of the position which worsens my condition every day. I am being told I have a call centre only contract so have to stay in my current role...but this is what a reasonable adjustment is, a change to a contract based on health needs,

any advice gratefully accepted.

jen
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Re: Equality Act - clarity on what it means for fibro

Postby pamh » Mon Sep 07, 2015 11:22 pm

To be honest, there is no help for us under this act. I queried this with my employers and was told that so long as they applied the same rules to everyone then that was equality and the fact that i was disabled and sometimes needed time off would not be considered and if I have any more time off for the next year I will be issued with a verbal warning. I have worked for them for 21 years, have reduced my hours etc. I have had two absences in a year, albeit one was for 5 months, and the other for a week. They have agreed to buy me an adjustable desk and they have changed the rules on working from home for all managers if we are working on a specific project. When I asked about working from home before I was refused, even though other fit employees were allowed to work from home when they were sick instead of taking sick absence. I don't feel there is any protection for us at work any longer and despair of where this will end up
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