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Getting a new job after disability-related sickness

(7 Posts)
Arkengarthdale Fri 11-Nov-16 13:05:47

I left my old job six months ago with a settlement agreement after years of bullying, crap management and a very badly handled grievance (lies told, notes of meetings doctored etc) following a serious episode of depression exacerbated by my work situation (I suffer from mental health issues and have done for over 20 years - my employer was well aware of this). I have a written report from an Occupation Health doctor that the last episode was caused by my treatment at work. I was off for eight months before I left and was very poorly indeed.

Having taken time out to recover properly I am now applying for other jobs, but am finding I am being rejected when prospective new employers find out about my sickness record. My understanding from ACAS and my union is that no one can ask about sickness until after a job offer has been made.

The last rejection came before the prospective employer had seen the occupational health report they ordered - they have said the report wasn't produced following their withdrawal of job offer, although I know for a fact that my GP had already responded to their Occ Health's request with a medical report on me.

I am a member of a union but am finding they are absolutely hopeless - it's been six weeks since my latest rejection before they finally contacted me saying they might have time next week to consider my situation. They only emailed me after I had eventually called head office to get a response.

There are several excellent jobs available locally right now at my level that I am absolutely qualified for (they are rare in my location) and I am being successful at getting interviews and being offered jobs (three job offers required me to relocate 200 miles away and I wasn't quite ready to, so I turned them down - wish I hadn't now!)

Is there anything at all I can do to get round this? I fear I may never work again unless I leave my home and DH and go and work somewhere else (it's not an option for my DH to move jobs - he is in a very niche role).

I am in my early fifties so the prospect of starting yet again at the bottom on minimum wage and working my way back up to my current level is not attractive. I am also very aware of being out of the workplace for an increasing length of time.

How do I get back to work? Many thanks for any advice.

Arkengarthdale Fri 11-Nov-16 18:16:04

Anybody? Please?

MouseLove Fri 11-Nov-16 22:54:28

I'm so sorry you're going through this. I completely understand. After living in hell at work for 6 months I had to leave and was out of work for 4 months while I firstly recovered and secondly felt in the right mind space to apply for a new job.

First, why would the new employee even think about your health? Are you mentioning it when applying, is it on your cv? I'm clueless as to how they would even care.

You do not need to say why you left your last job. Career break if they ask. It is actually non of their business.

I hope you are feeling better, there's nothing worse than feeling like that.


daisychain01 Sat 12-Nov-16 07:15:00

Hi Ark, can you do a self-audit of your skills to be aware of any gaps that you can fill in the meantime.

I'm not suggesting you completely change the course of your career, but rather consider what skills you have that can be applied to different roles so you can cast your job search as wide as possible and maximise your job possibilities.

Also I've found that if you can get your foot in the door for an interview, even if you don't get the job try to keep the door open in case new vacancies come up. In other words make a great impression, then you can say you came in for an interview and even tho you weren't successful on that occasion you'd really like to work for their company etc etc.

In short, maximise your chances with up to date skills and keep with it, don't give up hope.

Arkengarthdale Sat 12-Nov-16 11:41:18

Thanks for responses. I've done a diploma while I've been off to keep my mind active and have a bit of success (got distinctions) which has reminded me I'm not actually useless.

The reference request to previous employer asked specifically about number of days sick so they told the truth. They did not mention why I was off sick, the new employer jumped to a conclusion and pulled the job offer before their occupational health had produced their report. I believe if they'd waited for the report they would have realised it's likely to be disability related. I think they've discriminated against me.

Not that I would want to work with them now, but I'm worried about future job offers. My only hope is that a prospective employer does not ask about sickness and that seems a precarious position to be in.

I don't mention sickness absence at all in the recruitment process, as you so rightly say, it's nothing to do with them.

Thanks again

daisychain01 Sat 12-Nov-16 12:43:28

Keep applying for jobs. It's a numbers game, the more times you get thru the door, increases the likelihood of an offer and not all employers are so short sighted as to cut off a good candidate like you for past sickness.

You sound like you've done exactly the right thing with the Diploma. Keeps the brain cells going right? smile

Good luck!

Changeasgoodasis Sat 12-Nov-16 17:44:27

I'm not an HR specialist so I could be completely wrong here but where I work disability related sickness is recorded separately to standard sickness. Did you have this in your last workplace? If you did I think you could ask for sick days to be noted separately to disability related sick days on any reference requests? Then a new employer could know that they are breaking the Equalities Act by discriminating against you for disability related sickness without a report first.

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