So I work 30 hours a week as a staff nurse on a cardiac surgical ward. I absolutely love my job but it can be very mentally and physically draining. Occupational health advised my ward manager that I should work a set shift pattern. Now due to staff shortages and such a busy work load work do not always stick to this shift pattern. When I’m working my set shift pattern I feel I’m able cope with work life as well as being a mother to 4 kids, two of which also have autism. When work do not follow my set shift pattern I can cope at work all be it im very tired and can get overwhelmed however everything at home becomes to much to bear.
I have tired explaining to work the importance of following my shift pattern but I can never seem to find the words face to face . I just get told well patients needs come first or that the staffing won’t allow my shifts, or to book annual leave to allow for my shifts and I back down. However I’m one week into the next 6 weeks of work not following my set shift and I can’t cope. I’ve already had a break down. I find my daughters autism to much to deal with as I’m too exhausted from work.
The reasons I asked for set shifts is because nursing is such a demanding job. My shift pattern allows me to have sufficient down time between shift. As I also have sensory processing issues. I also like knowing my shifts in advance as this settles my anxiety. What I struggle to explain is why my autism effects me so much emotionally maybe it’s because I don’t understand myself. Having a set pattern also helps ease my daughter anxiety about when I’m not home.
So my question are do work have to follow my shift pattern regardless off patient need and staffing?
How can I explain why I need these set shifts. As I’m sure they doubt I have autism as I cope(mask) so well at work.
What can I do if work insist on not sticking to my set shifts.
All help would be very much appreciated I don’t want to leave my job but I just can’t cope with them not sticking to my soft pattern.
You asked what you can do if work insists on your set shifts.
You could put in a grievance. Your work may try saying you do not have a disability, so you should be prepared to show you do using examples as to how your everyday life is affected under the terms of the equality act. The Equality and human rights commission produce a downloadable document Proving Disability and Reasonable Adjustments which has information as to how to go about this (Just Google Proving Disability and Reasonable Adjustments and you will find it, sorry my tablet does not allow me to copy a link to it).
It is not necessary to have a diagnosis, but if you have one the report may indicate the ways in which you are affected which will provide much evidence. Your occupational health report is also good evidence, and I believe your employer would find it hard to justify treating you in a different way to others who have been offered set shifts, due to the fact disability under the equality act cannot be ignored, the only justifications would be on cost grounds or operational reasons,
My thought as to why they would not give you entirely late shifts is that they may argue it is depriving someone else of extra pay for unsocial hours, but this should not in my opinion be a justification.
It may also be of use contact in Access to Work as they can suggest Reasonable Adjustments which may help you to your employer.
It is also worth bearing in mind that once reasonable adjustments are agreed, or flexible working for that matter, this becomes contractual and should not be changed without your agreement and consent.
I do know how difficult it can be standing up for your rights. The NHS trust you work for should have an Equality Officer it might be worth contacting. And if you are in the RCN or other union your branch should have an Equality officer.
Unfortunately one often has to fight to enforce ones rights and employers and managers know the reluctance their employees have to do this.