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Going back to work/the office after furlough or working from home

Hi all, the end of September brings with it the end of the Government Furlough Scheme. As always, we want to provide the most useful information and support for our community, so we’d like to know about any challenges this change may bring for you. Are you still on furlough? If so, how are you feeling about this scheme coming to an end? Is your workplace being supportive? Feel free to discuss below.

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This is so topical and I expect you would like responses asap.
I am not in this situation, but I am very interested and worry about people financially dependent on the furlough scheme.

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Still on furlough, partner is on unauthorized absence. Only one wage. About to have none.

When furlough ends, I have 1 month of holidays to use up, then it is either (a) Try to get a sick note from gp who understands situation, or (b) leave job I like and go on to claim who knows what benefit.

If I go with (b) I feel DWP are going to make my life very difficult given there is no gov guidance for CEV anymore. I feel I will be pushed into applying for roles in unsafe environments or be penalised financially.

I am simply hoping 3rd dose + monclonal ab will be available soon, so I can return to my current job. My current job is manual labour and a high aerosol generating environment so even if I do return, it is still a high risk job.

Summary: I have no idea what I’m going to do, and don’t feel there is any real support for me outwith charities like BloodCancerUK.

Regardless, I am still hopeful as I know scientists and researchers are working on other ways to help immunocompromised.

Edit: Also just to say, employer has been very supportive, but there is only so much they can do.

Steve

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Thanks @Steve1 wow, you wrote this post so well and clearly. You show the many financial implications you have and it would be so sad if you had to leave a job you like.
I am so glad your employer has been very supportive and it would be interesting to hear from any employers out there as the furlough scheme coming to an end affects them too.
Take care and let us know how the situation progresses for you.

They never really allowed people to furlough where I work but I have regularly been asked if I wanted to continue working from home and have continuously insisted that I wanted to come back to the office. I guess that puts me in the lucky category but I really feel for all those that haven’t had this flexibility, it must be a very anxious time.

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Hi All, i was diagnosed with CLL in 2016 and since then been on watch and wait. I was discharged from the hospital to the care of my GP in 2017 and give blood tests every 6 months. My GP is amazing with support. I am a Traffic Officer in North Wales and very fortunate that although have not worked since March 2020 due to covid risk i am been paid my salary. In April i proposed that i would return to work, however following a risk assessment by Occ Health dept they stated i had a covid risk age of 102 years, therefore they have prevented me from returning. I am now very anxious about the future. The Occ Health Dr for North Wales is currently saying no to ill-health retirement. I am this week goingvto have a telephone consultation to discuss the issue with my Consultant. In additkon to CLL i aldsoha haveNephrosis of the kidney, hence my high covid age.i am very concerned that it appears the Governments of ALL 4 Nations has forgotten us
Kevin

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Oh @Kevbecs it sounds a really scary, anxious time for you and as I always say it is the not knowing that is so hard.
I also have CLL since 2003 and I have always been on watch and wait and the same as you in 2017 I was discharged ( and felt an abandoned fraud) back to my GP for active monitoring and so called fast tracked back into the hospital system if anything went amiss.
Please let us know how the telephone conversation goes with your consultant and ask them all those questions that are on your mind. Take care, Kevin.

I am lucky: I’m a software engineer and so can easily work from home. I have been doing so since the beginning of the pandemic, but as government restrictions loosen, my manager is becoming increasingly impatient about me returning to the office for at least a couple of days per week. This is entirely for his benefit because he finds it more efficient. (I won’t go into details, but “efficient” is not the word I’d use; “distracting” would be closer.)

In the summer, he dragged me (virtually) in front of HR to assert himself. As an MPN patient, I was easily able to counteract this by pointing to the advice from the HSE and NHS – both of which advised, at the time, for CEV people to remain working from home – and pointing out that my condition is covered by the Equality Act. I also pointed out some scientific research that explicitly mentions my condition and the increased risks from infection. (It’s worth pointing out that I work for a scientific research institution who, ironically, are involved in the study of COVID-19.)

I shouldn’t have had to do this then – my HR should have backed me up without me having to research this myself (actually, my wife found most of it; good on her) – and it caused me and my wife a great deal of anxiety at the time. Now the problem is that he’s pushing again and all the official guidance has changed, no longer advising working from home for the CEV, making no special cases for blood cancer patients, who are more susceptible. Only “unofficial” sources, such as Blood Cancer UK make that recommendation.

The last time this came I up, I contacted my GP and they gave me a letter advising working from home on the basis of anxiety. I didn’t need to use it in the end, but while it’s a means to an end, it feels a bit disingenuous. Sure, I’m anxious, but recognition of my actual risk would be more valuable. I’ve tried to contact my haematologists by e-mail, but I’ve yet to hear back from them.

I don’t understand why the value of my manager’s mindless presenteeism supersedes my quite reasonable need to protect my health and life. As well as anxious, it actually makes me quite angry to see how much I’m valued as an employee.

Anyway, I’m sorry to ramble on! I’m sure this question has been asked to death, but what do people recommend I do in the short-to-midterm? I e-mailed my haematologists because I felt it was clearer that way; I don’t know how to contact them directly by phone, but I can get through to the hospital clinic. I’m not sure how effective that would be. I can ask my colleagues to take photos of the office, if that shows <2m distance between desks and no one wearing masks. Is it worth trying my GP again? Has anyone else found any other effective strategies?

Thanks

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Hi @Xophmeister a great big welcome and I am glad that you have found the Blood Cancer UK website and forum.
What a horrible position to be in.
I cannot really add to what you have already explored, do you have a separate staff welfare department or a union.
It is so difficult as even on my early morning walk I can see that the world is reverting to the Pre Covid Normality. Also the media are saying that we are going to have to learn to live with Covid.
The Clinically Extremely Vulnerable that are immune Suppressed/ Compromised are just not a good news media story now.
Also with a 3rd vaccination and a booster being planned it further weakens our case.
Anything is worth a try and your GP seems a good bet.
I hope others can be of more help.
Please let us know how you get on and please, you and your wife, look after yourselves.

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A warm welcome to you @Xophmeister. I hope you don’t mind I’ve merged two threads about going back to the office.
I’m so sorry you and your wife are going through this stressful time, it’s totally understandable that this is causing so much anxiety. It sounds really frustrating for you feeling like your HR team didn’t back you up and support you.
It’s really good you’ve contacted your haematologist. They may be able to put advice in writing for you to show your workplace. If you don’t hear back by email don’t be afraid to give the hospital clinic a call and ask for the telephone contact details. You could also try contacting your clinical nurse specialist.

You might find this page helpful as it talks through things like rights at work and reasonable adjustments. It explains:

The important thing for your employer to understand is that what’s safe for you isn’t the same as what’s safe for someone who doesn’t have blood cancer. They should also be aware that the covid vaccine is not as effective in people with blood cancer as it is in other people.

Please don’t hesitate to give us a call if you want to talk things through!

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I work in an Infant/Primary school as a HLTA covering teachers for management time and I carry out interventions and work with small groups of children! I have been teaching remotely, surprisingly effectively, since the beginning of shielding, as well as supporting the school in other ways such as planning, website and Newsletter! OH assessed me as an 85+ year old and advised I worked from home! But now, with shielding ended, I am expected to go back to work! HR are very keen, I’m the only one left at home, apparently! I’m currently waiting for a bone marrow biopsy/ aspiration result and blood tests were carried out on Friday, I have fatigue and problems with my liver.
I have been forced, as I really have no other option, to go sick. This is against everything I believe in, but because shielding has ended, the rug has literally been pulled out from under my feet, I have no alternative. Colleagues have told me there are children in every classroom off because of Covid. HR offered to do a risk assessment and a phased return, realistically how can you risk assess little germ spreaders, I can’t tell them not to come near me! And with winter coming the windows and doors will be shut. I appreciate the phased return as a gesture of goodwill, but I will still be inside a room with 30 children, just for a shorter time! There are no longer bubbles and pre Covid working has resumed. I feel really let down as a blood cancer patient, everyone has different symptoms and each case is unique, the system should allow for that and there needs to be better government guidelines for employers as oppose to none! I appreciate I can’t work at home forever but new exceptions should be made for blood cancer patients who are most at risk and extremely vulnerable.

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Hi @JanCLL a great big welcome to our forum and it really is a dilemma isn’t it.
Are you a member of a union, perhaps ACAS or Citizens Advice can give you advice.
Acas helpline is telephone: 0300 123 1100. Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm. Find out about call charges. Acas provides free and confidential advice to employers and employees.
As you say your HR sounds as if they are being reasonable with offering to do a risk assessment. A dilemma.
Please let us know how your medical tests go and how you get on and look after yourself.

To all intents and purposes I went back to work last August but my employers always made it clear that if I wanted to work from home because of my status then I could. I’ve always chosen to come in though as I’m confidant that the control measures in place have always been enough but I realise that I’m lucky and not everyone feels the same.

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