New Jobs

Question:  Has anyone had experience of job hunting with rsi. I’m looking to change jobs; luckily my arms are under control enough for me to further my career rather than change it – for now anyway. It’s scary to think that I could get a new demanding job and then my arms give up. Anyway, does anyone know at what stage I should mention my condition. Do I tell the recruitment agency? I suppose I should really. Do I tell any prospective employer at the end of a first interview, or only if offered the job (bearing in mind that they’d have to spend A3500 at least on a keyboard and trackball etc.). anyone has any advice…

Answer 1:    My thoughts go out to you at this awkward time where you want to be as honest as possible but not jeopardize your chances meanwhile!  the most helpful thing i recently discovered is a scheme called access to work or sometimes PACT. If you contact them within the first 6 weeks of a new job you are entitled to 100 percent assistance (otherwise it is 80 percent after the first 300 pounds or thereabouts – with assistance being sought from the employer). They are usually based at the job centre, otherwise try directory enquiries for PACT. (if still no joy maybe my local one will have the numbers for all the country – get back to me if you can’t find it).
The purpose from what i can gather is to keep people with disabilities (the beauty being they needn’t be registered) working as opposed to claiming benefits – assistance clearly being cheaper in the long run than long term benefit claims! However they are extremely poorly funded (didn’t you just know it!)and claims take quite a while to assess and come through. They look at equipment needed, driving adaptations or assistance and much more – they can even provide a support worker if there is just small section of your job that you are unable to do.

Answer 2:  As I understand it the access to work scheme mentioned in the earlier reply is actually open to employers rather than individuals; i.e. it’s down to them to chase the grants to pay for any alterations that are required for your “disabilities”. On the more general point as to mentioning your RSI to potential interviewers; it will always be a problem with certain employers be it because they’re scared you’ll sue them for the RSI in a few years’ time or because they don’t want someone who may be “ill” on an ongoing basis or some other piece of nonsense.
A more positive point however is that new legislation was introduced last year termed the Disability Discrimination Act (or something very similar) which covers all employers & service providers with more than 20 employees. It widens the term “Disability” to mean any ongoing condition that impairs quality of life. Thus we move beyond wheelchairs & guide dogs as a means of defining disability to a more accurate version that includes diabetes, ME, rheumatism & the more serious long lasting forms of Upper Limb Disorder. You don’t have to register as disabled so you won’t be labeled officially by the state as disabled with all the connotations that flow from there.
Now the impact of this is that employers are meant to make reasonable adjustments to the work place, work routine, work equipment etc. so as to allow a “disabled” person to either continue working or be recruited in the first place. Now the changes required to accommodate someone with an upper limb problem fall easily into the reasonable category (it’s hardly redesigning a building). In effect once you declare your “RSI” the employer can’t discriminate against you because of it & if you are the best candidate for the job the employer should make “reasonable adjustments” to allow you to take up the position without further compromising your health. Basically the adjustments required aren’t massively expensive assuming a reasonable standard of DSE workstation within the company to begin with; thus they fall well within the “reasonable” criterion.
It is being taken fairly seriously by most large employers & the first case I’m aware of actually went successfully through the courts in the last few months; the case involved a person with ME so it does look fairly hopeful.

Answer 3:  As I understand it the access to work scheme mentioned in the earlier reply is actually open to employers rather than individuals; i.e. it’s down to them to chase the grants to pay for any alterations that are required for your “disabilities”. The *individual* approaches (or may approach) the disability adviser – at that stage the employer need not even know, although they advise you(obviously) to keep your employer informed. You also don’t even need a doctor’s note.
When the recommendations are made, then your employer has to agree to pay the first 300 pounds and 20 per cent of the rest (if it’s an existing job – nothing if it’s a new employer). BUT there is also the option of the individual paying that amount, then the stuff is yours and moves with you to subsequent jobs – of course your employer has to approve you importing the stuff! Even if your employer has paid part, there’s a scheme for transferring the stuff if you then change jobs.

Answer 4:  the most helpful thing I recently discovered is a scheme called access to work or sometimes PACT. Following similar advice (though not in the situation of a new job) I just phoned the job centre nearest to my place of work, asked to speak to the disability employment adviser, and it all went from there.
However they are extremely poorly funded (didn’t you just know it!) and claims take quite a while to assess and come through. I was seen by the adviser within 3 days, and could have been assessed by the physio the following week, except my *diary* was too full! So I was seen the week after that. Allowing for people being away (thus was July/August) the report came through very quickly, so don’t despair!


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