Flexible working/reduced hours... Advice please!

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Hi. I was diagnosed with M.E about 5 years ago now but have been suffering for 10. I work full time in a demanding office role for a retail company and having just managed to avoid redundancy, I am now stepping into a new position within the same company. The new role will be much more demanding and will have me under a different line manager. This year i have gone through a long term relationship break up, and make-up. I have moved house 2 times, my other half has lost several jobs due to redundnacy issues and this has left us in total financial chaos (We have actually cancelled Xmas in our household this year and I did not celebrate my birthday in November due to lack of money). My father was also arrested a sent to Prison this year for some deeply harrowing and traumatic crimes. I am not coping well and as you all know stress is a huge trigger for my M.E. My current manager has ALWAYS been sympathetic and supportive of my health and personal issues but my new line manager is much more hard faced and does not believe this condition is "real". My GP keeps telling me i need to accept his letter to be signed off sick but I do not feel that would benefit me long term, and given our financial struggles I cannot afford to risk losing my job. Has anyone ever had to request reduced hours, or flexible working hours with the aid of a note from a GP? My doctors said flexible working might be an option, as my new role means I do have the ability to work from home if it was necessary. Reduced hours is another one, however that would mean a loss in wages which I really can;t do right now. I really need some advice here. Can my GP write a letter to state that working from home some days of the week would be helpful to me, or even that it would be essential for my health and well being? I do not drive (Never learned as my M.E was so bad i could not change gears, now looking to learn in an automatic) and live in North Devon so i use the bus service to commute to work everyday. It's just shy of an hours journey there and back daily, and it makes my day even longer. By the time I get home i am too exhausted to even make or eat dinner. I live on toast and my other half does his own. I cannot keep living like this, I need time to heal emotionally from the events of this year and to give my body a chance to rest. I need a longer term fix rather than being signed off sick in the short term. Any advice AT ALL would be so appreciated. My new manager is a bit of a tyrant and i am so worried about asking for flexible working....

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5 Replies

  • Posted

    ANYONE?? PLEASE?! I am barely holding it together at work today...
    • Posted

      Hi Sarah

      I have just seen your message! Wow what a dreadful, dreadful year you have had! I am so sorry that life has been so complicated for you not to mention compounded by your health issues.

      Your biggest concern at the moment seems to be your difficulty fulfilling your work commitments exacerbated by travel.

      Have you discussed with your gp what you feel would be realistic for you to manage in terms of working hours.

      It’s very difficult when unwell but needing financial security to consider change in hours but your health physically and mentally are both very important. It’s impossible to pace yourself and rest with these commitments. However working from home would potentially give you a further ten hours a week to yourself. If you can work flexihours and you are struggling to get up you at least have the option to work later or rest a little throughout the day.

      Is you’re company has an occupational health department it may be worth getting an appointment to discuss your difficulties and needs.

      I am sure companies are obliged to meet the needs of employees wherever possible.

      It’s a shame your new line manager is not particularly approachable but to discuss this is not going to leave you any worse off for certain.

      I really hope you can find a solution and working even two or three days a week from home could make a big difference to you.

      We are self employed and I have had symptoms for five years. I have had to employ further help which means financially it has affected us but has taken a lot of pressure from me. I am now mainly responsible for things I can do when my better times of day allow.

      Let us know how you get on. I hope you have support from friends and family and your partner.

      Best wishes 

  • Posted

    Do you work for a big company? This is what they must do. If your GP signs you off work then you need to findut company policy on sick pay. Most large employers continue to pay full salary for a period of time. Then when your GP says you are fit to return to work, they have to give you phased return to work. IN addition if your employer as an Occupational Health department you will be working with them on your condition and phased return to work. 

    Like you I struggled on for years as I was single. Eventually I went sick and it was the best thing I did, working with OH I had time to start sorting myself out. 

    You need to look at the long term goal of getting better which I know is hard. I did boom and bust for too many years. Have spent the last three years focusing on getting better and now I can ride sixty miles, all done via pacing and learning to say no, not today, energy all used up. 

    Your other half needs to help here, why can't he cook a meal for you. He expects you to work all day and cook so why can't he. It's also really important to fuel your body as that will make you tired. You wouldn't run a car on water, it needs petrol, but we do that to our bodies all the time. 

    Use the time on me on the bus to sit, eyes closed and do nothing. My GP had me resting for thirty minutes at a time, doing absolutely nothing. I had a yoga mat and laid on the floor. It was hard after work but I soon got the hand of it. 

    There is no no short term fix here in my opinion, it's all long term. If the manager is a bit of a tyrant he needs fixing by HR, we can do without people like him in the modern work force.

    as for finances it's time to be brutal and ditch everything you don't need, make sure you pay the rent or mortgage first, never get that into arrears as you lose a roof over your head, never a good idea. 

    Hope this help, I tried flexible working but it only delayed the inevitable, once I gave up work for a while and focused on getting better thre was light at the end of the tunnel after seven years of pain and frustration wth cfs

    • Posted

      Thank you so much for all the advice. Just to clarify, i wasnt very clear in my original post, my OH is fantastic and always offers to help with me all sorts of things. I am always just far too tired to physically eat anything other than toast. I'm sure that sounds silly to be too tired to eat but it happens!


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