I work as a Graphic Designer for a company, so spend a lot of time sitting down at a desk. For the past two years, I have suffered from disabling migraines and a 24/7 tension headache. My physiotherapist has concluded that my chair is causing the problem. The chair really kills my back, which causes my neck to stiffen up, which then leads to my headache.

I have asked HR numerous times over the past 6 months if I can have my workstation assessed, but she has declined. I have asked them if they can buy me a new chair, but they think there's nothing wrong with my chair as it's ok for everyone else.

I tried a medical chair and noticed a huge improvement. I have since bought one and it's now at my home. I have asked HR about bringing in my own chair, but she asked me to speak to my line manager. The line manager was reluctant to allow this, and said he would speak to the owners. I haven't heard from him for about a week now.

The chair that can help me end the pain is at home, but my employer doesn't seem to happy to let me use it at work. What should I do in this situation?

  • In general, getting work to buy you an ergo chair or letting you use one you bought yourself seems like a great idea. But you've spoken to HR and your manager already with no success, so there's something company-specific happening here. I don't see how this site can help you with that. – Kate Gregory Nov 21 '17 at 15:51
  • Can you please tag with location? – AllTheKingsHorses Nov 21 '17 at 16:04
  • so weird, why would they not want you to use a better char – atxgis Nov 21 '17 at 16:04
  • @atxgis I know it really puzzles me – Aggle Nov 21 '17 at 16:10
  • Just to let you know that your request is legitimate and not rare. The pain has a tendency to increase exponentially by the time and persist longer. At our office, we are 12 employees, me and a co-worker has bring our chair from home. – Sebastien DErrico Nov 21 '17 at 16:12

You probably have medical reason to use that chair, so you have valid reasons to bring it to work.

What you could do is to get some letter or Medical note explaining your condition and the need you have to use a special chair (probably with your physio). Then bring the chair to work anyways. It's about your health and wellbeing, they can't restrict you from such things (at least not a decent company).

Not being able to use such chair at work could cause you even more health problems. You could try working from home but that would be avoiding the problem.

As a last note, remember that HR is NOT your friend. In future situations you could try probing this with your boss if possible before attempting going to HR, which could only slow the process down or even be unreasonable like here.

Edit: For the sake of reference, here is a link to a "Guidance on how to ensure the safety and suitability of workplace seating" (thanks to Motosubatsu for the link), as well as the Disability Discrimination Act for the UK. Also, the Equality Act which seems a more recent legal document that is also supportive here (thanks to Daveoc64 for pointing it out).

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    Good answer.. having worked at a company that mucked me around on this very issue for about a year I probably should have paid that red flag more heed as they were the antithesis of a decent company! – motosubatsu Nov 21 '17 at 15:55
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    The note is huge. In the US, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires companies(over a certain size, I think 50 employees) to make what are called "reasonable accommodations" and a chair that alleviates your problem is most certainly one. Theoretically, it also prevents them from terminating you or disciplining you for having to do so. – Chris E Nov 21 '17 at 16:00
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    Brilliant answer, thank you! When I have obtained my medical notes, is it worth me showing it to someone particular or just having them handy for when I'm quizzed on bringing my own chair in? – Aggle Nov 21 '17 at 16:03
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    There is similar legislation in the UK as well under the Disability Discrimination Act – motosubatsu Nov 21 '17 at 16:04
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    @Aggle Personally, I would not wait a week. It's one more week of damaging your back and headaches. The night idea is a good one :) that could probably work great. – DarkCygnus Nov 21 '17 at 16:17

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