Chronic Pain - What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic Pain - What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic Pain is ongoing pain which usually lasts longer than six months. This type of pain tends to initially be caused by an injury or illness which has healed, but for which the pain has not gone away. These pain signals then remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months, or years. In other instances, people can suffer with chronic pain even where there is no past injury or body damage. Chronic Pain is linked to conditions including:

  • Headaches

  • Arthritis

  • Cancer

  • Nerve pain

  • Back pain; and

  • Fibromyalgia pain.

How does Chronic Pain affect people?

People who suffer with Chronic Pain can have physical effects which are stressful on the body. These include:

  • A limited ability to move around

  • Tense muscles

  • Lack of appetite/appetite changes

  • A lack of energy/feeling tired

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Poor immune system

  • Shooting pain

  • Aching

  • Burning pain

  • Numbness

  • Stiffness; and

  • Soreness

There are also emotional effects of Chronic Pain such as:

  • Anger

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Fear of re-injury – such a fear may limit a person's ability to return to their usual work or leisure activities

  • Mood swings; and

  • Irritability

Is Chronic Pain classed as a disability?

Strictly speaking, Chronic Pain is not defined as a standalone disability. It usually tends to be a symptom of defined disabilities such as Arthritis, Fibromyalgia and Cancer amongst many others.

However, for the purposes of an Employment Tribunal claim, it may be possible to argue that Chronic Pain is a disability under the Equality Act 2010.

The Equality Act 2010 defines a disability as “A physical or mental impairment which has an effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.” This could include ‘hidden’ impairments or disabilities and the effect must be “substantial, adverse and long-term.”

Therefore, if your Chronic Pain has lasted for at least 12 months, or, is likely to last for at least 12 months (or the rest of your life), and substantially effects your day to day activities, it can potentially be considered as a disability.

What to tell an employer about your Chronic Pain

It is important to be transparent to your employer about your Chronic Pain and the symptoms and the effects that you experience. Your employer can then establish whether there are any reasonable adjustments which could be made in order to assist you and to ensure your wellbeing at work. You could also ask to be referred to Occupational Health for an expert assessment so that your employer can better understand your condition.

Once your employer has established that you have a condition and what this entails, they must take reasonable steps to implement the adjustments which have been suggested (as far as they are able to do so). Examples of some adjustments for Chronic Pain could be:

  • Offering flexible working so that you can manage your condition better – for example, some people may face difficulties in getting up due to the pain experienced in the mornings, therefore starting work later may be helpful

  • Putting restrictions on manual handling

  • Establishing whether you wish for your fellow colleagues to be made aware of your condition so that they can better understand how it affects you and your daily life

  • Allowing you to work from home where possible

  • Permitting longer rest breaks

  • Allowances for performance issues; and

  • Reducing physical tasks.

Making a claim

If your employer does not consult with you, carry out the necessary checks and investigations and make any reasonable adjustments required, your work may suffer. In some circumstances you may find that you are dismissed on the basis that you are unable to carry out the role. If this is the case then you may be entitled to claim against your employer for disability discrimination.

There is no minimum length of employment required to bring a claim at the Employment Tribunal, but it is important to lodge your claim with ACAS within 3 months of the act of discrimination occurring. It is therefore essential that you take legal advice on your situation at an early stage and as soon as possible. 

If you’re an employee facing discrimination at work due to suffering from Chronic Pain, we can help. Please remember there are strict time limits in Employment claims and you should take good free legal advice as soon as possible.

In addition to No Win No Fee, Lawson-West Solicitors acts for our clients on a variety of other funding arrangements including Legal Expenses insurance funding. We can assess your case to decide which is the best funding option for you.

With offices in Leicester, Wigston and Market Harborough our employment solicitors and lawyers can discuss your employment law claim at any of our branches. In addition, we are a national provider of expert employment law advice and welcome a free discussion with you regarding your circumstances and potential claim.

How to Contact Us

If you believe you have a situation where you require legal advice, please contact
Satinder Kaur on telephone 0116 212 1000 or 01858 445 480 for a free initial conversation, or alternatively complete our Contact Us form and we will get in touch as soon as possible.