Case study

Miss X is 30 years old and works for HM Court Service (HMCS). She suffers with recurring migraines at least once a month that usually last at least one day.

The symptoms are so severe that she unable to work and so Miss X has had a higher than average sickness absence record during her service.

However if these absences were taken out of the equation, Miss X’s sickness record would be no worse than any other employee in her area.

Her attacks are so frequent and the symptoms so debilitating that Miss X meets the criteria of being disabled within the meaning of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, a position which is supported by her own GP and the employer’s occupational health provider – Atos Origin.

The triggers for an attack are unknown but it is accepted that the symptoms are aggravated by stress at work. Miss X works in a busy court house in a stressful job.

Management inaction

Management have stated they don’t believe she is disabled despite the overwhelming medical evidence. Since 2005 Miss X has been in a continuous cycle of attendance review proceedings and no reasonable adjustments have been made.

She requested to be transferred to a less busy workplace, as a less stressful environment may reduce the number of attacks and improve her attendance.

She also requested that management end the cycle of constant reviews as the perpetual threat of warnings and dismissal were contributing to the attacks. Atos Origin supported all these adjustments and in their report suggested in the strongest possible terms that the employer should grant them. Management refused to grant any of them.

The affects on Miss X and her career

During this period she applied for a transfer to an identical post in a less busy neighbouring HMCS Area…application refused because of an outstanding warning for sickness absence

She applied for another post in the MoJ…application refused because of an outstanding warning for sickness absence

A request was circulated for volunteers to transfer on a temporary basis to another court in her own area….application refused because of outstanding warning for sickness absence.

If Miss X’s court house was to close or be restructured she would be disqualified from being placed on the transfer register because she is currently under review for attendance.

Miss X is currently subject to a final written warning and she is scheduled to attend another attendance review soon. All the absences in this period of review are disability related.

Miss X is facing dismissal because of a draconian approach to managing attendance that means that as a disabled person she is at a greater risk of dismissal than someone who doesn’t have a disability. How can this be fair or right? What if this was you?

What you can do

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