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Should I be returning to my office when I have Asthma?

(19 Posts)
Whenitsmytimeitllhappen Thu 07-May-20 12:23:11

I've been working from home now since 20th March, along with all of my other colleagues. The head of our company has said herself how well it has all gone. My issue is that my immediate Manager is expecting everything to return to 'normal' once lockdown measures start to be relaxed, he expects us to all be back in the office. If the office is shuffled about we can maybe Social Distance but I would have to use Public Transport to get to my place of work which I am not happy about doing?

I have asthma, not bad enough to be given Shielding status, but I have to take my inhaler every day and I'm also prone to taking Chest Infections when I have normal winter Flu.

I suppose my question is, as its been proven I can work from home, do you think can I be forced to come into the office?

Any advice welcome smile

OP’s posts: |
Moondust001 Thu 07-May-20 12:29:11

The bottom line is yes. If you want the job then you must go to work when told to. But have you actually talked to them about this? They may be willing to be flexible, even if just for a short time longer. But you will also need to start thinking about what you can proactively do to help yourself, unless you plan to stay in the house until there's a vaccine. That could be a very long wait. Perhaps a conversation with your GP about the risks and strategies?

If you actually catch flu every year (that is not normal) then you should speak to your GP anyway.

cheekybekky Thu 07-May-20 12:29:39


ComtesseDeSpair Thu 07-May-20 12:34:03

I think that when the government give their “unlock-down” briefing on Sunday it will include guidance and provisions for those who are in high risk groups and how employers should manage these employees. They may say that employers need to risk-assess their staff and then make provisions accordingly rather than wholesale insist everyone has to return en masse. They may require employers to demonstrate that staff need to be in the office rather than at home. It may be that you’ll need a doctor’s letter if your employer doesn’t believe they can / doesn’t want to continue having staff working from home. I don’t think there’s much point second guessing at this stage.

Whenitsmytimeitllhappen Thu 07-May-20 12:36:14

I haven't talked to them yet as I wanted to get some advice before I do? I have been leaving the house once a week to do my weekly shop - as I can't ever find any deliveries online, but I have been taking precautions when I do so. I don't catch Flu every year, I have the Flu Jab, but when I do catch it, I was almost always take a chest infection.

i think the thing which is worrying me most is the Public Transport aspect of it.

OP’s posts: |
ComtesseDeSpair Thu 07-May-20 12:36:23

I think you (and others with underlying health conditions) will need to be realistic and practical as well, though. A vaccine is a long way off if at all: are you really going to avoid leaving your house, using public transport, going into shops or any other indoor places, spending time with other people etc for a year or eighteen months or two years? And if your answer to that is “no”, then how can you really justify refusing to go into work?

BirdieFriendReturns Thu 07-May-20 13:14:15

I have asthma too. Last year I had a cold that turned into bronchitis and then I got bronchitis again requiring steroids and antibiotics.

This happens every year. Unfortunately I can’t stay off work for every cold and chest infection I get.

In the past on Mumsnet I have been told I am unreasonable for being unhappy for others going to work with colds that I then get, occasionally requiring hospitalisation.

Supersimkin2 Thu 07-May-20 13:18:29

Can you do staggered times so you don't travel in rush hour?

ShastaBeast Thu 07-May-20 13:23:42

What inhaler are you taking everyday? There are different severities of asthma requiring different types and strengths of inhaler. You can talk to asthma UK for advice. I caught what I think was Covid and my asthma got much worse (I take Fostair 200mcg x 2 twice daily), but still controlled by ventolin when needed. The GP offered oral steroids but I managed on my existing meds. I suspect the danger to asthmatics is it makes the asthma worse rather than asthma makes the virus worse. Being overweight/diabetic/high BP/ethnic minority/over 50 are all greater risks for being hospitalised. I don’t consider myself at higher risk due to asthma.

Whenitsmytimeitllhappen Thu 07-May-20 13:43:34

@BirdieFriendReturns i never take time off either when I have a chest infection, I'm just scared that with Covid around it'll turn into something worse?

@Supersimkin2 thats something i'll take a note of to say to them, thank you smile

@ShastaBeast I'm on Clenil Modulite 50mcg Preventer twice a day and Ventolin when needed? Asthma UK website has recommended working from home when you can but all i'm hearing at the minute is how everyone will be going back to offices. Just trying to get some advice? Thankfully I'm not overweight/diabetic/high BP/ethnic minority/over 50

OP’s posts: |
cinammonbuns Thu 07-May-20 13:45:39

Yes. They can make you go back to the office. You can argue that because of your asthma you don’t want to but I think you would need to be reasonable at when you do palm to go to the office.

As you aren’t shielded it’s your personal choice not to go not a government directive so they aren’t obliged to accommodate this.

BirdieFriendReturns Thu 07-May-20 14:22:48

I think I am just as likely to die from an asthma related condition due to the flu or pneumonia.

lifestooshort123 Thu 07-May-20 14:46:45

If it really bothers you using public transport (and I do sympathise, could you drive to work?) then you will probably have to leave your job as this virus isn't going anywhere. You cannot wfh until the all-clear sounds as that wouldn't be fair to everyone else. MOH has renal cancer (he had one removed and they're monitoring the progress in the other one) and he's been working throughout - he is a delivery driver in London working for a company who supply meat to NHS hospitals. He doesn't have any get-out-of-jail-free card and we talked about him jacking it in but that's not who he is so we live with the possibility of him catching it. I'm sorry for everyone who's scared shi***ss by it all but only you can decide what you can cope with - if they want you back at work then you need to decide what you can manage.

PurpleFlower1983 Thu 07-May-20 14:56:58

Yes, I am a teacher and one of my colleagues has asthma, she’s been in as it’s not bad enough to warrant the shielding letter.

ShastaBeast Thu 07-May-20 15:49:47

Your steroid dose is very low - same as my eight year old. Perhaps you can get a review and look at whether a higher dose will help boost and control any flare up if you got ill.

I know one of the teachers at school is not going in due to asthma. It seems different employers have different standards. But your risk should be very low and an overweight, BME, over 50 colleague would be higher risk but have no grounds to stay home so it’s hard to know where to draw the line. As mentioned, I don’t consider myself high risk and would go to work in your shoes.

blackcat86 Thu 07-May-20 15:53:00

Speak to your GP practice. I didnt receive a shielding letter but have had pneumonia twice, have recurrent respiratory infections and asthma requiring daily steroid inhalers (preventer). They sent me a shielding text so I didnt need to do any face to face work (social work) and my employer then let me WFH. I guess the risk if you could lose your job but it was a risk I was willing to take given my medical history

NannyR Thu 07-May-20 15:56:53

I have asthma (not severe enough to be shielding, but a fairly high daily dose of clenil)and have been working as normal throughout the lock down as I can't do my job from home. It's unfeasible to expect I could stay off work until a vaccine is found, which could be two years.

DateandTime Thu 07-May-20 16:07:51

I think people need to be very wary of declaring they have a health condition that prevents them from attending work long term, if they want to stay employed. Ill health capability is one of the easier ways to remove someone, should the management want to.

Keepdistance Thu 07-May-20 17:02:28

The buzzfeed info suggests vulnerable should where possible wfh.
Tbh i would put my foot down.
If they dont need you in and you can wfh according to gov info long term they shouldnt be making any staff in that position go into work let alone the vulnerable ones.
Shielding is a load of made up stuff they cannot know for sure who will die and who wont but mainly it is people with underlying issues.
The reason all asthmatics arent shielded is because it's too many not because it isnt dangerous. Same with high bp etc that is so many people.
With public transport hopefully they will mandate masks.
I had an issue during pg with going in one day to find they had put a printer next to my desk (they are not supposed to be that close due to the particles especially if you have asthma too etc). Anyway i refused to sit there. And ended up forced to hot desk. My poor manager ended up moving to sit there. It was ridiculous the higher up bosses were completely incapable of moving the printer to where it was supposed to be!
Basically people get bullied into putting up with unsafe working conditions after all it's not the bosses who will die it's you.
And this is happening to the teachers (told they cannot have masks etc).
Would your work not prefer you alive than having to train someone else and even if you dont die thousands were in hospital.
I may have had covid and have asthma - i didnt have to go to hospital but i had SOB and couldnt read to dc and struggled to go up stairs felt very ill for 4w. It wasnt like normal chest infection more a heavy weight on the chest. It wasnt phlegm for me so no way to clear it.

But i really suggest you take some vit d and get out in the sun.
Those having serious reactions have pretty much all got a vit d deficiency.

More vulnerable people need to start putting their foot down. We are being thrown under the bus because it looks like gov is helping people (the shielded) but not the others and yet 6% of the dead at one point had asthma. I am more vulnerable than a 60/70 yo.

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