Disabled and really struggling with changed job role :(

(4 Posts)
MrsFlintLockwood Sun 20-Oct-13 18:19:41

NCed due to detailed post, sorry, please don't out me blah blah blah.

I work in a customer service role, but one with lots of physical elements to it - comparable to a large shop really. Was fine in the normal role until last year when I became disabled. Not sure if it's relevant but it is an invisible disability, although all my colleagues know.

My employers have been great and stuck with me despite huge absence, gave me a few 'reasonable adjustments' and I have finally settled on very part time hours (was FT) which have worked brilliantly.

There are some parts of the job - stuff equivalent to stacking/tidying shelves - that I struggle with, but due to the way our timetable works I am only doing it for about an hour at a time, then swap with colleagues and move to something easier 'behind the scenes' like making phonecalls, processing orders etc. Everyone does this.

However. We have just reopened after a refurbishment, during which we were told that the 'ways of working' are changing. I welcomed this fresh idea and I want to point out I am really not somebody who instantly complains at any hint of change etc. I felt very positive and genuinely excited.

But the thing is, they've changed it so that instead of all the 'behind the scenes' stuff being shared every day, they are instead having one member of staff doing it start to finish each day, so everyone does it once every two weeks or so. BUT that's only FT staff - us PTers aren't there long enough. So we end up doing all the floorwalking, tidying, shelving stuff for virtually the whole shift (75% or more).

And I can't actually cope with it, physically. I've been in tears after each shift due to pain and dizziness, as I cannot manage being on my feet so much. Almost all the tasks I can do easily have been taken away.

I really don't want to go in all guns blazing as they have been so accommodating since I got ill, but I can't help feeling like I have been forgotten about and they haven't considered how this change would affect me (or any other PTers) or my health.

There's some training I have not been allowed to do for ages because I was absent so much (fair enough as that task is harder to cover if the person is off sick) that would allow me to do more desk work, and I was finally told recently that I would be able to do this soon because my attendance has settled since my new hours kicked in. But the way I'm feeling now, I am risking a relapse, and then they won't let me do the training because absence will increase and I will still be stuck doing the heavier work that is making me ill. Really don't know how long I should leave this.

Sorry, that was epically long, didn't want to leave anything out.

TooBusyByHalf Sun 20-Oct-13 22:50:48

They are under a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments so that you can do your job in a way that you can cope with due to your disability. So you need to think about what that would be for you - different hours, different role, exemption from some of the more physically demanding tasks - or whatever would work for you , and then arrange a meeting with your manager. You need to explain
- what is positive and working for you and for the team about the new systems
- why some of the changes have had a detrimental impact on you because of your disability
- what the consequences of that are likely to be ( more time off sick, perhaps permanent deterioration in your health?)
- what changes - called reasonable adjustments in the Equality Act 2010 - you think would help you do your job more effectively and prevent a relapse.

And then take it from there. If you think management will be resistant consider taking along your union rep if you have one or a colleague friend just to be supportive. Don't expect an answer there and then - s/he may want to think about it. They may come back with an alternative which you would have to consider (but not accept unless you think it's reasonable).

Do do it soon - not only for the sake of your health but also because if you don't you may be criticised for not raising the issue sooner.

Good luck!

MrsFlintLockwood Mon 21-Oct-13 20:12:02

Thank you so much for replying thanks

I also talked it through with my occ. therapist today and she agrees it can't continue if it's likely to cause a relapse. But also agreed about not going in all negative.

I'll definitely think about it in terms of what you've listed, thanks x

BrownSauceSandwich Thu 24-Oct-13 08:16:13

That's great advice from TooBusy. I'd also question whether the rearrangement is going to work out so well for your colleagues (how do they feel about it, by the way?) Reducing periods of exposure to a health hazard (whether high temperatures, sitting at a desk, toxic chemical, or manual work) is about the most basic health and safety measure, and it's obviously doable in your workplace, because it sounds like they were doing a really good job of it before.

Are you and your colleagues in a union? If so, chat to your rep about it, because it sounds like it might be pretty straightforward to put right. If not, you especially should consider joining one. Even with the best will, employers are still learning how equalities legislation works, so anyone with a disability, or carers for people with disabilities, or minorities groups, or women, or pretty much any anybody really, may need support in case of infringement of their rights. In my VERY biased view, a union is a great source of that support.

And speaking of rights, I'm not sure, but I would be concerned about your employer withholding training because you've been off sick due to your disability. Whatever their justification, I think they're on very thin ice there. That's another thing a union would be able to advise you on.

You sound kind of apologetic about this whole issue... Don't! You're a hardworking and valuable member of the workforce, so don't think anybody's doing you a favour by enabling you to do your job!

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