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Another work issue - any advice perleeze ???

SueDSSueD Posts: 544
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Need advice from Paragraph 3 onwards please.

Update ..... Today at the physio session I was told I'm being referred for hydrotherapy - which is brilliant as I think that would help alot. I've had to rush out and buy a swimming cossie and, although I don't like it, it will have to do! Not sure when these one-to-one sessions will start as there is a waiting list for them - but I'm not going anywhere.

I've asked my GP to provide a sick note for me until Saturday 2 October. I intend to return to work on Monday 4 October as that's when my occupational sick pay ceases. I'm giving myself as much time to recover as I can before this pay stops.

When I see the Occupational Health doctor on Tuesday 21 September next week, hopefully (fingers firmly crossed!) he'll say I'm fit to return to work, even if they may have to make some reasonable adjustments.

There are other issues I need to discuss with the doctor, but ONE OF MY MAIN CONCERNS (as an example..... and one I have to advise this doctor of) is that I work with special needs children, one of whom regularly kicks/punches/pinches (all support staff, not just me!) and he wears specially made [very HARD] shoes. There is special restraining techniques that I believe the school is adopting which entails sitting on the floor, restraining him firmly while he's facing away - so that if he kicks he shouldn't be able to make contact with me (or whoever is working with him). I haven't had this training yet and I understand all staff would have had this training when they returned to work earlier this month, but the thought of sitting on the floor doesn't fill me with glee. Who is going to help me up afterwards, ha!? There was one incident in June when he kicked me, and then immediately went to do it again - and my natural reaction was to move (and twist) myself away quickly whilst I was sitting on a very small chairs. This hurt my back and I had to complete an incident form. I had to have a meeting with two Managers about it (which none of the other staff have had, even though they also completed numerous incident forms). At the time I remember feeling that I was being singled out, especially when one Manager asked me "Are you saying you cannot do your job then?"

In my own defence, if I need one, I AM able to do my job (providing British Sign Language lessons), BUT..... I should not be expected to be used as a punch bag! Surely my employers have a duty of care to protect their staff?

Does anyone think they can say to me that I'm not fit to do my job because of this???? I'd be really interested in your comments or advice - preferably before next Tuesday!

Oh, and another good thing is that I've at last found my pelvic floor muscles, YAY!!!! I have to laugh because the day after surgery the physio lady positioned her fingers just inside my hip bones. She asked me to start 'clenching' my pelvic floor muscles and I replied "I AM!!!". She couldn't feel any difference between relaxed and clenched. Today they and I could, so at least I'm doing something right.

I welcome any comments/advice about my work situation please. Am I worrying too much? It's just that there has been talk of the education authority making cuts because of overspending and I just feel very vulnerable at the moment. Thanks.

2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!


  • Hi Sue. Are you in the UK? If so I am fairly sure the employer has a duty of care for you. Are you a teacher or a TA? Are you in a union? I think that employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to your work environment so that you can return to work. I did a load of googling when I went back cos my school was worse than useless. Check out the net - there is stuff on health and safety at work, return to work etc.
    Have you spoken to work yet? Check out their policies too.
  • Sue I am in the US and assume you are UK so I don't know that much about about your employment laws. If you were here I would suggest getting a copy of your job description to see just what you are expected to do. Is there any way you could get transferred to another position that is less physical at least for this school year? IN the US the employer is required to make "reasonable accomodations" but this can be good or bad depending on what your job calls for.

    I'm sure someone will have better advice. I wish I could help more.
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  • Sorry, dont remember if your injury is work related.
    And i dont know the laws in the UK.
    Kris is right about the reasonable accomodations.
    If your's is work related, and you are still under doctor's care they have to provide you a light duty job, or if none available, they have to let you stay home while they pay you.
    If injury not work related i dont know the LTD insurance laws.
    Just tell doctor to keep you under his care, then at least you will have doctor's recommendations, in the event you might have to challenge your employer's rules on your job classification.

    Best of luck.

  • Just before I had my surgery and went off on sick leave, we had training in our school for handling difficult children. (It might have been Team Teach .... - can't really remember.) Anyway, there were aspects of the training that I couldn't do because of my back, and was allowed to just watch. It was felt that I still needed to know what was the correct way of handling the children. We also have some difficult pupils, but generally I am not expected to deal with them if they kick off. I definately would not be prepared to risk my back.
    I have however, placed myself between children, to protect one of them. That was just instinct.

    When I returned to work, I had an interview with the head, where I had a chance to express all my concerns about my return. She was wonderful about supporting me and trying to find a way to avoid problems.
    I would start writing a list of things that you are concerned about, ready for this interview.

    I would also try to have a phased return to work. My husband's osteopath was amazed that I had even tried to return to work on my full hours after a fusion surgery.

    I did much better this morning :-)
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  • Jelly's advice is good. I e mailed in my concerns (they were all ignored though!) well in advance. I also had a slightly phased return although only for one week. And then I had to battle to explain that half day meant half day not half day in school followed by another few hours PPA!! I didn't get any back to work interviews or anything just "here's where all your classes are at" and off you go!
    There is some thought out there that getting "back to normal" helps recovery but I really think you have to balance this against the physical toll your job takes on you.
    There are some people on this board who have had no problems returning to work and others who have loads. It might be a "suck it and see" issue! Good luck.
  • Just a kind of evil though- imagine a school for children with special needs, where adults with special needs are not welcome? Sounds rotten.

    Does the UK have an equivalent to the US laws which protect individuals with disabilities? Here, we have requirement that employers accommodate your disability, just as the school must accommodate the child's disability (well, not quite the same extent, but you know what I mean).

    Good luck!
  • your comments are all valid and very helpful, ta!

    To clarify: My job is to provide British Sign Language lessons - which I do not have a problem providing at the moment (apart from perhaps not giving the full body movements when signing e.g. rowing a boat - it would involve too much bending forwards).

    Anyway, I believe that when I visit the Occy Health doctor next Tuesday I can honestly say that I CAN do my job. They shouldn't be able to say that I cannot return to work. I'm hoping that's where the 'reasonable adjustments' will come in (for things like bending, sitting for too long, dealing with problematic pupils! etc.).

    I'm trying to be pro-active in my approach and don't want them to think that I'm reluctant to return - far from it.

    I'm bored! I have no contact with my work colleagues and I miss the interaction with the children (well, most of them!!!). Also, I feel a little out of touch with any new protocols or notifications there might have been since they all resumed work at the beginning of September. They won't remember to tell me them all - they've never got any time!

    I don't want to stay off work!!! I need to be busy and, more importantly, to earn the dosh.

    If I wait until I'm 100 per cent, I'll never get back, especially after the hospital said it could take up to 2 years for everything to settle down!

    I have applied for DLA (cos I need help around the house from my family and lifts to/from the hospital because it's too far for me to drive). I've also applied for a Blue Badge (because getting in/out of a car is extremely difficult and slow and, more importantly, I need to be able to open the door as wide as it can go in order to swing my legs out first 'cos I'm quite tall with long legs!!).

    I've had a very informative private message with a website link that's very useful - I have responded to say 'thanks'.

    I do hope all this worrying is for nothing and that when I attend Occy Health I will find that they are prepared to work with me on this one. We'll see....
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
  • It sounds to me like they should be able to make reasonable accommodations for you. Plus, if things are the same there as they are here, finding sign language teachers is hard! They would be silly not to help you keep your job.

  • I would be interested to have that website link too please :D

    Hoping that your appointment on Tuesday 21st September with the Occupational Health doctor will go well and that it will put your mind at rest about your return to work.

    I would also recommend that you plan to have easy meals and not have to do much once you are home. I come home and have to lie down for 1/2 an hour or so, due to my muscles being in spasm and I feel extremely tired. I hope that in a couple of weeks or so, things will start to get easier.

    I will follow your story Sue and hope that you can share some good news. :D
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