Changes in work environment

Hi I have been an MAV/VM suffer for many years, currently not on medication but just taking each day as it comes.
I work in a busy heavy truck dealership unfortunately on a computer all day but have my own office which I have adapted to meet my needs.

Basically I use a lamp and no overhead lighting, shut the blind on my window, all my filing shelves are low level so they are not towering above me like supermarket shelves and try to keep it clutter free. I keep my door shut most of the time so there isn’t too much unnecessary noise and don’t have to watch the constant motion of people moving about the place. Sounds strange but people who suffer with the visual vertigo side of migraine understand where I am coming from (hopefully).

Anyway we have just been told that we are being taken over by another company and there will be more staff coming to work at our site, as it’s small there will be a lot of changes made to the building. I am now worried that they are going to take me out of my office and put me in an open plan space with other people and all the things that trigger my visual vertigo…can they do this? If I was disabled they wouldn’t make me use an upstairs office with out a lift so can they do this to me. We also do have some upstairs offices but all the stairways to them are open and so i get really giddy if i go even up 3 or 4 of them. Surely they can’t insist I go upstairs as i would be worried about falling.

I really don’t want to lose my job, although i don’t think they label VM as a disability it most certainly is to a certain extent especially as I have functioning problems rather than the pain of migraine and I have worked out what most of my triggers are.

I can’t do a lot else by myself, shop, clean, drive, do things with the kids or at worst shower and bath without help (water is a trigger) so my job is the one thing that I do by myself and is my only real means of independance in my life at the moment and has been for a number of years, I think its the same for most people with this chronic illness that they are not the people they used to be and cannot do all the normal daily things they used to do.

Is there any law or health and safety procedure that says I have a right to express my needs as an employee with sounding like a diva? It’s horrible that people cannot see how debilitating this illness is but I have been doing my job for 20 years and I don’t want to have to walk away from it. It’s not like I can just walk into another one, not with all the function problems I have (purely because of VM).

Has this ever happened to anyone else?

Karen

Hi KJ,
I’m another visual vertigo sufferer and I can relate to all of your descriptions. The computer work is hard! I totally understand as I use a computer all day at work. Have you found anything that helps this at work? I’m sorry I cannot answer any questions about work rights as I’m in a different country : (
I do hope you can keep your office environment as it is even with the expansion : )
Do you have kids? It can be hard to run around after them.
Brookie xx

Not sure what the law is in the UK, but here in the US, if a business has more than 15 employees, it is required by federal law to provide reasonable accommodations to its employees with disabilities. (I would certainly argue that MAV is a disability.) “Reasonable accommodations” is generally anything that helps an employee to do his/her work that does not place an undue amount of expense or difficulty on the employer. So, it comes down to the facts. Does your needing a separate, closed-off work space place an undue amount of difficulty or expense to your employer? It’s not that your requirement would cause ANY difficulty or expense to them, but an UNDUE (or unreasonable) amount. Again, doesn’t apply verbatim to you folks in the UK, but this might help any of our American friends who are going through similar circumstances.

— Begin quote from “KennedyLane”

Not sure what the law is in the UK, but here in the US, if a business has more than 15 employees, it is required by federal law to provide reasonable accommodations to its employees with disabilities. (I would certainly argue that MAV is a disability.) “Reasonable accommodations” is generally anything that helps an employee to do his/her work that does not place an undue amount of expense or difficulty on the employer. So, it comes down to the facts. Does your needing a separate, closed-off work space place an undue amount of difficulty or expense to your employer? It’s not that your requirement would cause ANY difficulty or expense to them, but an UNDUE (or unreasonable) amount. Again, doesn’t apply verbatim to you folks in the UK, but this might help any of our American friends who are going through similar circumstances.

— End quote

This is all true, though in practice it isn’t always so straightforward - people like to weasel their way out of doing the right thing sometimes, so it’s definitely important to learn the laws and keep good records so we can all protect ourselves.

I have no experience in the UK, but looking online it appears that the disability act looks very similar to ours here in America:
Definition of disability here (details are in the PDF link on the page): gov.uk/definition-of-disabi … y-act-2010
Guide to rights here: gov.uk/rights-disabled-person/employment

The first step is getting your MAV confirmed as a disability. With the rules in place, you should be able to as long as you have been suffering (or your doctor will attest that you will suffer) for at least a year, and you have day to day impairments - this is a simplified version of course, as there are lots of fine details in the requirements to be dealt with.

Next, as KennedyLane asked, does your office situation prove to be undue hardship on the company or not? Likely in your case, this is going to come down to finances. By leaving you where you are, are you costing them huge amounts of money or not? By staying, is it going to be too hard to fit all the new employees? Etc etc. Many companies will make accomodations without putting up a fight, but if they are being jerks about it, finding legal assistance in the matter may help you out.

thank you all for your comments, I fought hard over the last couple of weeks to keep my office even though they are reconstructing the area, havent actually approached my new employer about my problems yet, my doctor will not even entertain the fact I have this problem, she says its all anxiety and I know 110% it isnt, although my consultant has sent her a letter to back me up and confirm the mav. I have yet to consult her over this, it just wears me out having to justlfy your symptoms to prove how dibilitating this all is, especially as she has not sent me on a councelling course for anxiety. She is making me anxious thats for sure! I can really understand how people want to give up, having to fight all the time just because people cannot see the problem like a broken leg.