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Disability Narratives

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Video clip: Susannah explains how the referral to occupational health worked for her, and how their recommendations were put in place.

And that was partly because a lot of that came around so - Obviously I was taking a lot of sick leave. And there's kind of some sort of threshold where if you take a certain amount of sick leave, and the sick leave forms go to HR rather than to your line manager. And my line manager at the time was quite hands off. So I'm not sure she was actually fully aware how much sick leave I was taking. I think she was kind of vaguely aware, but not - you know - not maybe completely aware of quite how much I was taking. Whereas obviously HR have to know, because they have to record it all, and put it all on the, on the system. And there's obviously some sort of trigger level where the university has some sort of policy where it's like 'really, you should probably get occupational health involved if somebody's taking this much sick leave'.

And that was really bad timing for me, because that was kind of quite close to the point where my fixed term contract - and I was kind of like 'oh no, you're referring me to occupational health', and I didn't really understand why. I didn't, didn’t kind of understand the university policy at the time, and I was like 'oh, is this to do with renewing contracts and things?' That was quite worrying. Although actually once I saw occupational health I was a lot less worried because obviously they were very upfront about what it was all about, and how it worked. They were really helpful.

And in terms of, you know, the university - I mean, the stuff from the occupational health - like they kind of gave me the permission to try out the part time. Because I was kind of - I think when I went to see them, I was kind of thinking is this something - there was kind of a thing in the back of my mind of is this something I should be considering? And I kind of voiced it at that appointment. And it was really useful to have, have the validation from the occupational health doctor, who was like "You should really try it out, and I'll give you the backing to go back to your HR department and say you should have the opportunity to have a trial period, and see if it helps. And if it helps, to transition to it."

And I do Monday to Thursday. So the suggestion that I had from occupational health was to, was to go to eighty percent. And then they kind of basically said "See what works for you." And there was the option of, of kind of shorter days. Or, or like a more traditional part time where I did four days a week. And I found that four days a week worked a lot better for me, because it allowed me to have kind of a recovery day. Which, particularly if I'd had a migraine during the week, or if I'd had one at the weekend, it - it just gave me a day that wasn't a weekend day.