Can employer ignore occupational health report?

(33 Posts)
Geekie Sun 18-Aug-13 01:34:17

I have an invisible disability, I was burned very badly as a child and the scars on my legs can be very painful when exposed to changes in temperature. I was badly bullied as a teenager because of my scars and since leaving my home town I have worn trousers and not told my colleagues that I have any problems, preferring them to think that I am welded to my car because I am lazy rather than unable to walk.
I am a social worker and was based in a hospital for over three years with no problems. I was moved to a community team in August 2012, initially there was no problem as there was parking but the team was then moved to a city centre location and I had to tell my employer that I would be unable to get to the new location because of my disability.
This issue was complicated by my brother dying the week my team moved. Initially I was signed off by my GP because of the bereavement but my manager is refusing to consider reasonable adjustments to enable me to return to work. I have been seen by Occupational Health Doctor who has recommended I be placed in a specialist social work post in the hospital that is currently filled by an agency worker, I am qualified to do this job, but my manager is insisting that I go back to my post in the building I can't get to after a temporary placement in the hospital to ''get me back into work following my sickness and give me an opportunity to gather more mefical evidence about my condition". I haven't been sick - I could not physically get to my new location and surely the occupational health report and a letter from my GP should be sufficient evidence that my disability xists. My union rep is a lovely person but is out of her depth on this. I put a grievance in in May but this still hasn't been heard. I am being forced out of my job by my manager's refusal to do anything to meet my needs. I am feeling very intimidated by my manager and I can't understand how I can get the extra evidence he wants. Any ideas about what I can do?

Geekie Sat 07-Sep-13 14:44:20

Hi All, Well HR appear to have taken this seriously. The good news is that I have had an email from my manager to say that I can be placed in the post that was originally suggested last October, it is only temporary but the substantive post holder is going on maternity leave in November so at least I will have a bit of security. My manager is still saying that despite having two occupational health reports and a letter and a report from my GP "we are still unable to independently medically substantiate your disability or offer clear DDA guidance. In response to this I intend to meet with the examining doctor to seek further clarification". He also intends to write to my GP to ask him to refer me to a burns specialist. He has also made it very clear that this is a temporary measure.
And Nerfmother, thanks for the link to the equality website, I have had a look and it is really useful.
I will update when I hear back from HR.

BerylStreep Sat 07-Sep-13 18:39:11

Good news, so far.

However, I think your manager is over-stepping the mark. He is not entitled to have the information about your disability. That's what Occupational Health are there for - for you to medically discuss your condition IN CONFIDENCE with them, and as a result of THEIR MEDICAL EXPERTISE, they make a recommendation to your management, which he ignores at his peril. It is not up to your manager to be making assessments of your condition, or indeed writing to your GP suggesting referrals.

Similarly, the only people able to make a definitive decision about whether DDA applies (Equality Act, but YKWIM) are the courts, not your manager.

I suggest that you contact Occ Health and clarify what permissions you have provided about what information can be shared with your manager.

I agree with Beryl about your manager overstepping the mark, what is your Union Rep doing about all of this?

Geekie Fri 13-Sep-13 07:53:40

Oh well, the news was not as good as I thought. I was told yesterday that I am not covering for the person who is going on maternity leave, I am covering the other post. The agency worker who has covered that post for twenty one months has been told that the post is needed for a disabled worker so that will be my secret out. Also the job the permanent post holder is seconded to has just been advertised. If she gets it I will ask if I can have the vacant post permanently but I can't see them saying yes. If she doesn't get it I will be back to square one because the post I will be covering will be advertised. I can't understand why HR doesn't just take control and sort this out. The law does say that a disabled person can be moved into a suitable vacant post without a competitive interview doesn't it?

BerylStreep Fri 13-Sep-13 17:15:16

Geekie I won't even try to pretend to understand all the different posts and who is currently covering what, because I am utterly confused!

However, my understanding was that a post can be filled without a competitive process if it is a reasonable adjustment for someone who DDA applies to. It certainly happens in my work (large public sector org). They wouldn't promote though.

Geekie Sat 14-Sep-13 06:57:02

Thanks Beryl, that's what I thought. I can't understand how or why this situation has happened. All I wanted was a job with a car park. I can live with the pain, I have to. I wanted to keep my disfigurement a secret but they have effectively destroyed my privacy whatever happens now. I wish I had just handed in my notice and signed up with an agency when the change of location was first announced. It would have been so much easier if my employer had a reasonable adjustment policy but HR says every case is different. There should be a procedure though, then at least everybody could be treated the same.

Musicaltheatremum Sat 14-Sep-13 22:11:40

I second what BerylStreep says. Your manager cannot have your medical information. I get lots of employers asking me for I formation about patients without going through the OH route and even with signed consent I dont give it, in fact I often phone my patients and they are not aware what they have consented to. It is scary.

Geekie Mon 30-Dec-13 12:16:08

Hi All, I wanted to let you know that I put in an employment tribunal claim and asked if it could be heard 'out of time'. My union refused to support me because I had left it more than 3 months before putting in the claim even though my union rep had incorrectly said that every time my manager refused to make reasonable adjustments this would trigger another 3 month window.
Clearly my employer's solicitor took my claim more seriously and I have just settled. Terms are confidential but I now have a secure job that meets my needs. Thanks to everyone who gave me good advice and messages of support when I was going through a very difficult situation.

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