People shielding due to coronavirus
If you have been identified by the NHS as being clinically extremely vulnerable, the Government guidance is that you should not attend work, unless you can work from home. If you don't have the right equipment to work from home, you might be able to get help through Access to Work (see below). If you can't work from home your employer may be able to furlough you under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. If your employer doesn't furlough you, you may be eligible to claim Statutory Sick Pay or Employment Support Allowance.
If you have been told to shield, but feel that you have to go into work or you risk losing your income or job, this may be a case of disability discrimination on the part of your employer. If you're a member of a trade union, they can support you to negotiate with your employer. If not, you can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
ESA is the benefit you can claim if you cannot work due to a disability or health condition. Click here for more information about ESA and other benefits.
Under the Equality Act 2010, people with disabilities have the legal right for any reasonable adjustments to be made in their workplace. Reasonable adjustments are changes which reduce or remove the effects of a disability to allow you to do your job. For example, your employer might agree for you to start your working hours later in the day if your fatigue is worse in the morning.
For many people living with ME/CFS or fibromyalgia, their conditions have significant and long-term impacts on their ability to carry out their daily lives, which means that they are considered a disability under the Equality Act 2010. If your employer does not recognise your condition as being disabling, you could provide them with a letter from your doctor, or an award letter for a disability benefit such as PIP.
Click here for more information about reasonable adjustments.
If you have been employed continuously by the same employer for 26 weeks, you have the right to request flexible working. Flexible working could involve working from home, working part time, or having more choice about when you start and finish work.
Click here for more information about how to apply for flexible working.
Access to work
Access to Work provides in-work support for people with disabilities or health conditions. You can apply for a grant through Access to Work to pay for support such as specialist equipment, training about your health condition or help getting to work. You can also get mental health support through Access to Work, and you don’t need to have a diagnosed mental health condition.
Click here for more information about Access to Work.
Voluntary redundancy and early retirement
If your health condition means that you are not able to do your job, even with reasonable adjustments, you could consider taking voluntary redundancy or early retirement.
Your employer might offer for you to take voluntary redundancy. You are protected by disability laws, so your employer can't force you to resign. You should weigh up the pros and cons, for example, how much redundancy pay will you be owed and how long it will last you. You can get free financial advice from the Money Advice Service.
Usually you have to wait till you reach your pension age to get your pension, but if you have to retire because of a health condition or disability you might be able to get it earlier. Pension schemes have their own rules, so you will need to contact your pension scheme provider to see whether you can apply for early retirement on the ground of your health condition.
Click here for more information about voluntary redundancy and early retirement.
If you are a member of a trade union they can help you negotiate with your employer.
For more information about finding suitable work, see the Employment Support section of Disability Sheffield’s website.