Question: Due to my employers recent attitude towards my RSI, as in they did not cause it, I brought it on myself and they have helped me all they can and don’t want to hear anymore about it, I have decided that it is time for me to move on and find a job where my employers will treat me like a human being! As my RSI started in my current employment, I have never been in a position before where I need special equipment to enable me to work relatively pain free.
Can anyone advise me as to how best to approach a potential new employer with my needs? Should I not say anything until I am offered a new job, should I bring it up at the interview or should I put a little note on my CV? Any advice on how best to handle this would be greatly appreciated!
Answer 1: You should contact your local Employment Services Access to Work Disability team – as they also deal with RSI. They are slow but provide an excellent and much needed service. They assess your needs, asks your employer to buy the equipment in the first instance and then you can claim back the majority of the cost from Employment Services on behalf of your employer. If at all possible I would get all this put in place before moving to the next job.
Explain everything to Employment Services (they are very used to negative attitudes from employers/line managers and can even help you with this) and see what they recommend re. When you should move jobs and whether you can take your equipment (PC, voice recognition, chair, pen grips!, desk, admin support while waiting for your equipment etc. etc.).
The Disability Service helpline is 0800 528 0462 to ask for your area office, just in case that doesn’t work ask the office I used 020 8218 2600 (North East London incl. the City). If anyone’s employer does support them a little more, I also recommend a charity called Abilitynet who provide assessments also and will recommend certain suppliers. Look at Abilitynets website anyway, you could even think about getting a job with them or one of their suppliers.
Answer 2: This is always a sensitive issue. Is it better to be open and honest and run the risk of not getting a better job, or do you suffer in silence and ‘deceive’ a potential new employer? On the whole, if you can show through a medical report that you are fit to work, potential employers will not hold your medical condition against you, but they will be within their rights to ask for a medical report before they make a decision.
I believe that if you do not disclose the condition and it stops you from working then they will be entitled to terminate your contract. If you disclose the condition, and they still take you on, then they are bound by law to make all reasonable adjustments to accommodate your disability, and make every effort to assist you throughout your employment with them. It sounds as though your current employer is trying to put as much distance between you as possible. Again, I believe that they may be breaking the law.
Even if they believe they didn’t cause it. If their specialist has told them that they didn’t cause it, I think they are still bound by law to make reasonable adjustments for you. If they sent you to see a rheumatologist then that might actually be considered as a reasonable step towards making reasonable adjustments for you.