In 2013, Philip Grosset was facing an unfair dismissal from his job as the Head of English at a school in York. Since then, he has taken the issue to court, won substantial compensation, and ensured staff at the school undergo further training. We asked Philip for a few tips for employers and employees on handling cystic fibrosis in the workplace.
You can read more about Philip's story in our CF Life magazine.
What happened to me was so unnecessary, and could have been avoided if my employers had followed a few simple steps.
Are you an employer?
1. Know the law...
Be aware of the Equality Act 2010 (or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland) and its implications for you and your staff. Understand that you have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to ensure your employees with disabilities are not disadvantaged in the workplace.
2. ...but keep an open mind.
Take it seriously if a disabled employee is telling you they are struggling. Work with the employee to find out what can be done to help them. If it can be done, then you have a legal duty to look at what reasonable adjustments you can make.
3. Keep talking.
Follow things up. Don’t assume a problem is fixed after one meeting.
4. Seek advice.
Take medical advice, and act on it.
5. If you're not sure, ask.
As well as your HR advisor (if you have one), there are a raft of charities and local authority services you can call on.
But it isn’t just employers who should take steps in the workplace.
As an employee, there are things you can do to ensure your employers are best-placed to help you.
Are you an employee?
1. Ask for help.
Consider telling your employer if you have a disability, or any health condition that might affect your work. If your employer doesn’t know, they can’t help, and you may not be protected under discrimination law. The focus can be positive - explain what you need to help you do your job and stay healthy.
2. Patience is a virtue...
Work with your employer, and accept that things may take a little time.
3. ...but time is of the essence.
Remind your employer of their legal duties in the unlikely event you think they are dragging their feet.
4. Know your rights.
Take the advice of your union, or organisations such as ACAS who offer free, independent advice. Keep careful notes, and put important things in writing.
5. Remember, you can do anything, but not everything.
Consider taking any medical support or assessment offered, but seek advice from independent advisors if you’re unsure about your rights.