Wheelchair at work

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Disability Money Matters
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GlasweJenGlasweJen Forumite
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edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Disability Money Matters
Following on from the thread about the lady who was asking about getting a wheelchair due to chronic fatiguing illnesses she has now been referred for an assessment.

As part of the assessment she has a form to fill in about lifestyle and things, part of the questionnaire is about the work place.

It turns out that although her work places shop floor is wheelchair accessible her staff room isn't, nor is the office or things like the till and she wouldn't be able to reach stock (she works in a shop). She's really worried about this so I told her about how access to,work funded a big % of the adaption costs when I went into a chair but that isn't calming her down.

Apparently her boss (who owns the shop) is a cheapskate - doing things like firing the cleaner when he took over, not replacing staff when they left leaving the place really short staffed and the staff are all on min wage, min holiday time and even things like he bought bug spray instead of getting in rentokil when the shop got infested with beasties - and it's still infested!

He doesn't mind spending money on himself but not on anything shop related - they have damaged electricals from when a pipe burst that he refuses to replace because they still just about work!

Does anyone know where she would stand if boss refused to make the shop accessible for her wheelchair? She's worked there less than 2 years, boss knows she has a chronic illness and was aware she might end up in a wheelchair at some point when she was recruited. The extend of the work needed sounds a lot, the work place is on one level with 2 steps so that's not bad but the corridor through to the fire exit is too thin for a wheelchair, this is the same corridor used to get to the offices and staff area. To me (just going on her description) a wall would need removed, the toilets would need redone (at the moment it's just a single cubicle behind a locked door and from her description wouldn't fit a chair), the corridor to the fire exit would need widened which would probably require the office to be removed and I still can't work out how she would get to the staff room unless they took out a room in the middle entirely - not sure how that would work with supporting walls or anything - but obviously an architect would be able to work this out.

She is worried that the wheelchair will be refused at assessment if she does not have a supportive work place, worried that she might lose her job if she asks for adaptions and is convinced her boss will hit the roof if she explains that she needs a chair now, understands he won't want the expense and tells him she is looking for alternate work.

Any advice from someone who has been here?
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Replies

  • pmlindyloopmlindyloo Forumite
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    As you have found there is quite a lot of support and advice in this situation.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/employing-disabled-people-and-people-with-health-conditions/employing-disabled-people-and-people-with-health-conditions#help-with-the-extra-costs-disabled-people-face-in-work

    Ultimately the employee could take the Employer to an Employment Tribunal but would need advice for this.
  • GlasweJenGlasweJen Forumite
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    Thanks for that, I did suggest to her that she gets the wheelchair services to write a letter but she's worried that he will just fire her. She wouldn't be able to afford the tribunal fees.
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  • GlasweJenGlasweJen Forumite
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    The company is fairly big so her boss would need to put money towards the adjustments - she's afraid that he won't do that.
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  • Sounds to me as though she would be better off out of the place.
    Dangerous electrics & pest infestations.......
    If its a shop somebody should report the guy to Environmental Health before somebody gets killed of poisoned.
  • MojisolaMojisola Forumite
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    Sounds to me as though she would be better off out of the place.

    I agree - she's got physical problems and anxiety - working in such a stressful environment is not going to help her at all.
  • I would suggest that if he did try to release her right after making a deal about the wheelchair, she would very much be protected and it would be a ‘slam dunk’ of a case. However, I doubt she will be comfortable at work for the next few months. I would try to appeal to the boss again before taking it over his head.
  • elsienelsien Forumite
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    Would it be possible for her get more of an idea of the impact/scale/practicalities of the changes as well as costs/who pays what before deciding which route to take with the boss?

    I guess for any business it's not just the cost, it's any disruption while the work is being done, so if she can answer questions about how to minimise that, he's more likely to get on side.
    Although from what you've said so far, if she does manage to get the work through she might feel obliged to stick it out longer than she would otherwise which in a bad workplace with a bad boss mightn't do her any good in the long run.
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
  • GlasweJenGlasweJen Forumite
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    She's just so worried that she will lose her job, she's nowhere near qualified to comment on how disruptive the work would be or even if it's possible.

    I've suggested that she apply for some new jobs and use one of my chairs for interviews and until here arrives so that she will always be a wheelchair user to the new company. If they hire her as a chair user they probably wouldn't even notice her changing when her own arrives. This is the least confrontational route so she wants to try this and just keep working on her feet until she can get in somewhere else.

    We've ordered a cheap cushion to fit the one of my sports chairs that doesn't look particularly sporty, she's coming over Friday night to do a CV session and I can show her how to propel properly. The chair we are using as energy efficient wheels which she will hopefully get on her NHS chair but if not at least it's helping her get into the swing of things.
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