to want to sit at work with the blinds open and no heater on?

(90 Posts)
Iwantsun Tue 15-Apr-14 13:13:02

I share an office with a colleague who has a disability. I am not sure what it is and she has never disclosed the nature of it, just that she has one.

The weather is absolutely gorgeous at the moment. The minute she gets in, she closes all the blinds, claims it is freezing and has the heater on all day. She puts the lights on because she has closed the blinds. I am fed up of sitting all day in the dark roasting because of the heater.

I have dropped several hints that she should wear more layers but she prefers to sit in a thin dress with the heater blaring on.

I have spoken to my line manager and he says he cannot do anything about the situation because of her disability. There is no other room for me or her to move to.

I just want some sun and fresh air sad

ApocalypseNowt Tue 15-Apr-14 13:57:11

That's what I wondered PartialFancy which is why i asked if the company would contribute. The place i work for has paid out on several occasions to get people the kit they need in order to do their job in comfort. I realise not all places would though.

Iwantsun Tue 15-Apr-14 13:57:25

I just asked her what her DH is like and she says he doesn't like it warm. So she turns the heating off for him but at work has it blaring it on for me angry

NurseyWursey Tue 15-Apr-14 13:59:15

partial I can get free reaction lenses because my eye was damaged when I was 15 (someone lamped me with a brick) and now it lets too much light in - thats why I thought the woman would be able to get them free or cheap

MaxsMummy2012 Tue 15-Apr-14 13:59:53

I think if she's not willing to explain her 'needs' to you then you don't need to compromise for her - can your office furniture be rearranged so she has her back to the window (away from the light) and so that you 're next to window for light and fresh air. Tell her to suck it, sunshine and fresh air are good for ones health grin. Or you could bring a huge oscilating fan in and point it at you but so it hits her too ha ha revenge could be sweet wink

NurseyWursey Tue 15-Apr-14 14:02:13

I think if she's not willing to explain her 'needs' to you then you don't need to compromise for her

She doesn't have to explain her needs to anyone except her boss who is the one who will need to put things in place for her. She doesn't have to disclose details of her disability to all and sundry hmm

PartialFancy Tue 15-Apr-14 14:02:47

shock Nursey.

Max, she doesn't need to explain her needs to the OP. But she does need to explain them to HR/Occ Health/mgmt of some kind.

Nennypops Tue 15-Apr-14 14:05:31

Either your employers are daft, or someone within the organisation must know the nature of her disability. No-one can swan into an office and claim all sorts of adjustments for their disability without producing some sort of information and evidence. If your employers haven't requested the information, they don't understand what their legal duty is. Apart from anything else, if they don't have the details, there is a risk that they might actually not make the right adjustments. I am wondering, for instance, if the reality is that she can't wear jumpers because of sensory sensitivity and for some reason isn't saying so. It is certainly wrong for them to say you are the person who must make the adjustments and no-one else.

I think they need to have a meeting with your colleague ASAP to make sure they fully understand what her needs are and to discuss how they can accommodate them without making life intolerable for other employees. Otherwise, if your manager is really desperate to avoid sorting this out, perhaps he should be the one to share an office with her?

MaxsMummy2012 Tue 15-Apr-14 14:08:37

I didn't mean explain her disability, of course that's her business but she should atleast explain why she needs the heating on so high other than she's cold, if she's just cold that's not a disability that's a lack of clothing, if however she needs the heating on to prevent pain caused by her disability then that's different and would need to be accomodated - she could ecplsin that much surely? And if she's not prepared to let people know why she needs them to sweat to death then why should they accomodate her?

PartialFancy Tue 15-Apr-14 14:23:09

No, Max, she doesn't need to explain anything like that to her colleagues.

She does, however, have to do as Nennypops says and discuss it with her employer.

Absolutely agree that employer needs to get themselves up to speed on the Equality Act. They're going to get caught both ways, bending over backwards unnecessarily in one direction while failing to meet their legal obligations in some other direction or to someone else.

MaxsMummy2012 Tue 15-Apr-14 14:33:24

Well if she wont explain why to her colleague or her employer i'd be inclined to ignore her requests for the heating on, window shut and blind closed until someone could give me a reason otherwise and a reason as to why her being cold is more important than me being hot - I'd be more sympathetic if there was a valid reason, even if the employer could say 'there is a valid reason which I can't disclose but the heating must stay on' then fair enough but for noone in the company to know the reason is stupid and the op shouldn't have to suffer.

gasfiredbottom Tue 15-Apr-14 14:37:17

see your manager about getting you or her moved. manager has a responsibility to you too

ApocalypseNowt Tue 15-Apr-14 14:41:56

Could you have a chat with your manager again but this time at the end tell him that you'll email to confirm what was discussed and copy in HR? That might get his arse into gear.

GoldenGytha Tue 15-Apr-14 14:56:51

Where are you all that your weather is so hot?!

I have my heating on, and am wrapped up in top, cardigan and thick winter dressing gown, and I'm still freezing.

Agree that a compromise must be reached here, but I'd hate to work somewhere if I was cold.

PatriciaHolm Tue 15-Apr-14 15:13:42

Most of the UK is sunny and warm today, I think? Where are you, gytha, that sounds a bit extreme?

OP, you need to have a word with HR.

limitedperiodonly Tue 15-Apr-14 15:25:42

This is the joy and pain of working in offices OP wink

I don't think you'll win because your line manager seems afraid to confront someone who has an unspecified disability. My experience of HR is 'fucking useless, tending towards the more fucking useless. Outlook: fucking useless.'

I have to admit that in one office I worked in I was a venetian blind tyrant.

We sat in school room style; one behind the other. I used to sit directly facing a window. That was nice because I got light; people behind me existed in degrees of Stygian gloom. There was no way I was going to give it up.

At certain times of the year and times of the day I'd close the blinds because of heat and blinding light.

The person directly behind me campaigned to swap desks saying he needed the light. I know he craved my desk because it was more prestigious.

I resisted successfully. However, I did put a cardi on when it was cold, so I don't think I was that bad.

GoldenGytha Tue 15-Apr-14 15:39:34

I'm in Aberdeen Patricia

It is sunny, but I don't think its warm at all, I still have my electric blanket on full blast at night!

Iwantsun Tue 15-Apr-14 16:53:54

I don't think you'll win because your line manager seems afraid to confront someone who has an unspecified disability

I think he is afraid. I do wonder what the disability is. She seems to have loads of time off work for endless hospital appointments, gets to work flexibly when the rest of us are not allowed. I did ask the line manager, he admitted he didn't know what the disability is.

She has time off to sit on the disability support group so really knows her rights

NurseyWursey Tue 15-Apr-14 16:59:19

maxsmummy we don't know whether or not the woman has told her bosses what she has, I'm thinking she defo has. Just because she hasn't told the OP (which she is perfectly within her rights to do) doesn't mean the employers don't know.

People with disabilities shouldn't have to tell everyone about their condition

DIYapprentice Tue 15-Apr-14 17:02:21

If special measures need to be taken at work, then something about the disability DOES need to be disclosed, I'm afraid.

Sitting in the dark will damage your eyes too!!!!!

Euphemia Tue 15-Apr-14 17:03:32

I've been sitting under a blanket all day. The whole of the UK never has the same temperatures, you know. hmm

NurseyWursey Tue 15-Apr-14 17:25:21

^xIf special measures need to be taken at work, then something about the disability DOES need to be disclosed, I'm afraid.

Sitting in the dark will damage your eyes too!!!!!^

Only to occy health and the boss. No other employee needs to know. And the OP shouldn't be asking the line manager what the woman's disability is because he isn't allowed to disclose it.

And they're not sat in the dark, they have the lights on.

ormirian Tue 15-Apr-14 17:29:15

Stop dropping hints, start asking if she minds you letting some light in and turning the heat off as you find the room very uncomfortable.

MaxsMummy2012 Tue 15-Apr-14 18:27:38

Nursery the op says I did ask the line manager, he admitted he didn't know what the disability is. and if you look back at my posts I specifically said I didn't mean explain her disability, of course that's her business hmm

Iwantsun Tue 15-Apr-14 18:31:03

Stop dropping hints, start asking if she minds you letting some light in and turning the heat off as you find the room very uncomfortable

I have asked her directly, she said no to the opening the blinds because her eyes hurt and no to the heater turned off because she said she feels cold

Nennypops Tue 15-Apr-14 18:38:21

The employer has to make reasonable adjustments. That does not include forcing workmates to tolerate unreasonable working conditions.

The line manager really has to grasp the nettle and talk to HR about what the disability is and/or what they can reasonably do to accommodate your colleague without prejudicing you. If there is no reason why she can't wear more clothes to keep warm, then the plain fact is that putting the heating up is not a reasonable adjustment and she needs to bear the consequences of failing to do so just like everyone else. Equally I can't really see any reason why she can't get the glasses, if necessary with your employers' help. Presumably she copes with the sun if she goes out of doors?

And, like I say, if the line manager doesn't want to do that, I suggest you ask to share with or do a swap with him.

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