Your right to Reasonable Adjustments
Under the Equality Act 2010, a disability is defined by having a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities. Interstitial Cystitis is chronic and debilitating, in the sense that with certainty this is a disability protected by the Equality Act 2010. Under this act, you are able to request that adjustments are made to relieve some of the disadvantage that this condition causes, in comparison to those without the condition.
Some people or organisations like employers, shops, local authorities, schools and transport providers, must take positive steps to remove the barriers you face because of your disability. This is to ensure you receive the same services, as far as this is possible, as someone who's not disabled. For example:
Providing or modifying equipment or devices
Part-time or modified work schedules
Reassignment to a vacant position,
Adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials
Providing readers and interpreters
Ensuring accessibility to facilities and that they are usable by people with disabilities.
The Equality Act 2010 calls this the duty to make reasonable adjustments and confirms that to deny an adjustment, the company must show that the accommodation would be an undue hardship - that is, that it would require significant difficulty or expense. The Equality Act 2010 says changes or adjustments should be considered and made to ensure you can access the following things if you’re disabled:
Employment - ask your employer for adjustments
Housing - ask for adjustments in your home
Goods and services like shops, banks, cinemas, hospitals, council offices, leisure centers
Associations and private clubs like the Scouts and Guides, private golf clubs and working men clubs.
For Interstitial Cystitis, there are adjustments that may be reasonable to request in certain circumstances, such as within employment. Here are some suggestions for the individual difficulties you may face with this condition.
Symptoms of IC:
Nocturia (Needing a loo throughout the night)
Pelvic and Lower Abdomen Pain
Urethral and Perennial Pain
Tiredness and Fatigue
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Immune difficulties (Prone to catching viral or bacterial illnesses)
Depression and Anxiety (Associated with living in chronic pain/ difficulty)
Continuous or Intermittent 'flare ups' (Times of intensified symptoms)
Below are some suggestions of possible requests to make to assist with living with Interstitial Cystitis. Any company must not simply deny on the basis of affordability, but must reflect that they have thoroughly considered and can show a real and significant reason for their decision. If you disagree, don't be belittled into submission. You can request other things or follow the complaints procedure. You deserve to be heard.
Frequency - It is common to go to the loo with IC, up to every 10 minutes in a flare. That can range from 10 - 100 times a day, sometimes being sat there for hours. You may ask for flexibility around toilet breaks and time away from your desk, in consideration to your condition as a reasonable adjustment.
Urgency & Incontinence - This is unexpected and with IC, you'll be familiar with the fact that you don't usually get much warning before the 'need' takes over. You may request to make a plan for emergencies, clarifying just what you would be requiring and how you could work with the organisation (i.e employer). Another suggestion is flexibility for using the toilet or ability to change clothing if required.
Nocturia and Tiredness - This can really impact your ability to get a good nights sleep and if you become too drained, you may put yourself or others at risk or be unable to maintain your strength throughout the day. You may wish to ask for adjustments to be considered with regards to the official lateness, absence or cancellation procedures and terms. You may also request alternative adjustments such as flexible working hours, part time working or working from home. These suggestions may not be suitable, but there is a responsibility for both sides to find a mutually agreeable solution.
Chronic Pain - This aspect is one of the most dampening and draining of all. As a sufferer of a chronic condition, you tend to sacrifice your cognition for the sake of pain relief. Pain can vary among IC patients and is impacted by associated conditions also. You are well within your rights to request: Office seating arrangements that support the parts of your posture or body which ache; Absence policy adjustments to take your disability into consideration; Amendments to certain things that must give consideration to the effects of medicine (i.e changing your duties during a time of strong painkiller use or to the location of work).
You can request policy Changes - If the company in question has a policy or rule that directly or indirectly effects your condition or is effected by it, raise this concern. You may be able to come to an alternative arrangement or reasonable adjustment. For example; if your employer has a policy to raise a warning at a certain number of absences, you may wish to ask to discount those related to Interstitial Cystitis.