Support Pathway Suggestion for Staff
Before you talk to anyone
- Work out who at UOW you work for in an upline-management sense. While this may sound like an obvious thing to say, for some staff, the person they regularly report to is not the person responsible for managing their HR issues.
- It is also good to talk to your primary healthcare provider; this is often your GP but might be a treating specialist. It depends on your condition.
- You may also want to have some idea of what you hope to achieve when you speak to someone.
- What is it in your role that your condition makes difficult?
- What can be done to ease that difficulty?
- Are you requesting a permanent change or for a specified time?
- Are any of your colleagues likely to be affected by your request?
If they are, how much information are you comfortable having shared with them about why the change is happening if it goes ahead?
- What other questions might your manager/WHS/HR have that will help them support you or evaluate your request?
Some conditions are temporary; others are not. If you are uncertain about whether disclosing your condition will have a negative impact in the longer term that may outweigh any benefits that might be obtained by requesting a reasonable accommodation – listen to your instincts.
Talk to your primary care practitioner(s) and consider your options carefully. There are people in SMAH and at UOW with whom you can talk that can support you in deciding whether and how much to disclose in your immediate workplace if the choice is not clear.
Decide who to talk to – and ask for a meeting
- Usually, your supervisor is the person you would go to in the first instance. If there are reasons that you do not feel comfortable having this first conversation with that person, that's OK.
- Here are some other options for people you could approach in the SMAH Faculty:
(not all of these will be appropriate for everyone – these are people you can consider in looking for someone you feel comfortable talking to)
Be prepared for the meeting
- It is improbable that anyone you talk to will be knowledgeable about your particular situation – even if they know something about it, it will not be from the perspective of how it affects you. Have sufficient references and information available for the person you are talking so they can obtain a basic understanding of the relevant circumstances; it is not their job to become an expert or be able to anticipate your unique workplace needs. They need to understand how and why your request will enable you to perform your duties more functionally.
- Have copies of any supporting information your primary care professionals have provided to you in support of your request. It can help you and the person you are talking to work out who else in the organisation can best help work out how to evaluate and accommodate your request(s).
- Do not expect the person you are talking with to have all the answers or be able to respond to any or all your requests in this first meeting. Your situation is very possibly new to them; give them some time to find out what they need to know to support you by agreeing to additional meetings if required.
Have the meeting
- It is natural to be nervous; if the person you are meeting with asks questions, try to give them the benefit of assuming they are trying to understand – rather than questioning your condition/illness. Communication is complex, and we all have good and bad days with it.
- Remember to
- be clear about what you are asking for
- explain how it will assist you in performing your duties
- share your supporting documentation from recognised professionals when appropriate
- agree on outcomes from the meeting
- What can be resolved today?
- Do you need to meet again? If so, when?
- What are they going to do as a result of today's meeting? By When?
- What are you going to do? By When?
- If you feel that the meeting is not going well and that you are not being heard or taken seriously, thank the person for their time and end the meeting courteously. You can talk to other people in our Faculty (Step Two), so regroup and consider whether someone else may be a better first point of contact.
Follow up on the meeting outcomes
- Remember, this is the beginning of an ongoing discussion – even if your situation is only for a limited time. Things often take longer than we would like them to, particularly in large organisations, and patience is hard.
- Just as the process can be confusing for you, it can be hard to navigate for your supervisor too
- Whoever you spoke with is very likely responsible for multiple staff members – allow them time to address your request, but provide them with additional information if that is something that the two of you discussed as helpful to them.
- Contact the person you spoke to on the agreed due dates about the meeting outcomes if you have not heard from them.
- If you feel that:
- you are being ignored
- that things are taking an unreasonable long time to be decided upon
- the final decision is unreasonable
- speak to one of the other contacts from the Faculty, which includes your HR Business Partner rep.
It is important to remember that the outcome being sought in these discussions is equity – you may not be able to get exactly what you requested. The discussion is to enable you, your upline, and the organisation to agree on a "reasonable accommodation".
What is reasonable will be different for different roles AND different for the same roles in different circumstances. Workplace equity is the concept of providing fair opportunities for all employees based on their individual needs.