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Undiagnosed returning to work amid Covid 19

Tue, June 30, 2020 4:18 AM

Hi all,

After some advice please!

Following some awful symptoms, and a sample coming back as IBD, I was referred to have a colonoscopy. Because of Covid I have been added to the waiting list so it could take ages. I am due back at work following maternity leave next Month, and my employers are asking for a doctors letter stating if I am at moderate or High risk. 

The doctors state they cannot provide this letter as they do not know how serious it is yet, and they do not yet know if I need to take immuno suppressants.

Work have said if I do not return as normal, or have this doctors letter then I will get the sack.

I don't want to have to choose between my health or my job. Does anyone else have any similar experience?

Thanks in advance,


FPO PowGeez
Joined Jun 30, 2020

Wed, July 01, 2020 12:07 PM

Reply posted for PowGeez.

I had similar experience of delayed colonoscopy, as well as doctors that were reluctant to investigate symptoms. I talk about it in this blog post:

I would be looking into other doctors with shorter wait times for colonoscopy (depending on if your insurance allows for that) and/or for a second opinion from another doctors that may be more willing to provide a note. I would also express concerns that your symptoms may not be just due to IBD and that you could be cancerous as that is more likely to be considered an emergency and flag concerns with doctors and hospital that there could be a legal liability for them if they do not prioritize your diagnostic.

I also have some experience of accommodations processes under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) from the other side as I work in HR (this is the part of law that would require your company to offer reasonable accommodations to allow you to continue to work/keep your job despite your disability).

I would be thinking about two different things:
1) COVID risk - sounds like you are already looking at this, but the doctors are only focussed on your increased risk due to immune suppressant drugs. I also personally believe that there are unknown risks but some signs of evidence that COVID can trigger auto-immune disease responses, and would ask your doctor if that puts you in a high risk category even if you are not yet on immunity-suppressant drugs.

2) If you think your current symptoms would prevent you from returning to work even without the COVID risks I would also be talking to your doctor (and then HR team) about whether they could sign off on accommodations that may be necessary to deal with those - when I was experiencing a need to rush to the bathroom to poop blood with a few seconds warning each morning I would not have been able to commute to work for an hour. I know it is a lot more embarrassing to talk about, but it's also reality of our disease.

In both cases the company may propose accommodations that are not the one you propose yourself (e.g. in my case I am lucky enough to be able to work from home, and that would be a reasonable accommodation for me instead of a leave of absence) and I would try to be open to working with the company if they do suggest other accommodations.

Finally I would search and read up on accommodation requirements for your city and state (if there are any) as well as under the ADA to make sure you understand your rights. For same reason I would also ask your HR team for a copy of your companies Accomodations policy if they have one.

FPO stephencapper
Joined Jun 28, 2020

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