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Disability Narratives

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Interview excerpt: At first Milembe struggled to get the understanding she needed when taking sick leave during her chemotherapy, but after further discussion her manager understood the need for flexibility.


Portrait of MilembeSo it got to the end, I was like “this is not working”. I'd inform the manager, I'm not going to be able to come in within ten days. And I'll come after that. But to begin with it was hard, because she used to call me every morning and ask me whether I was coming in or not. And I felt like I'm dealing with enough issues, I don't have to be putting - I said, "Don't expect me in ten days." She didn't understand. And you know, she was like following the rules. Because we say if you're off sick you need to report every morning. So even if I tell her I'm unlikely to be well for ten days after the chemo. So there was that gap.

So that really frustrates, because you feel like every morning while you are struggling to get your appetite for you know, cup of tea, but you must call work. And you must call before you start. You know, that bit was, was terrible. But then you don't know, you don't know that's how it's been handled, you don't know - you know. Yeah. It was a bit frustrating, I must say. So you’d call.

And then I think after having three runs of chemotherapy, I got fed up. I was like, "Let's agree - do not expect me to call, because I am not going to call, and I don't think we have to have this arrangement, unnecessary arrangement. So I am not going to call. And I will call you after ten days, when I feel maybe I might be able to come or not come. Just for managing your - you know - yourself." Because I thought, because I know I'm not going to be there, you don't have to expect me to be there, because I'm not going to be there, so you might as well find the cover. Because I thought that was a responsible way of finding cover.

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