A repurposed Facebook post about work, disability and the General Election

Hello! This is a “reason to vote Labour on December 12th” post. Please read it, especially if you feel like skipping it.

So last year, through no fault of my own, I and 2/3rds of my department were threatened with redundancy. I managed to score a redeployment to a different department, but it was incredibly stressful and ended up being the root cause of a really bad dive into depression and anxiety, and I’m in a position now where I’m firmly on the lookout for other options.

The thing is, I am disabled. I have a framework of reasonable adjustments in my current job to make it as manageable for me as possible, but the simple fact is that our world is structured to present me with situations I find incredibly difficult, often with the secondary effect of burning off the energy I have for doing the stuff I’m good at, let alone the stuff outside work I actually like doing. It’s been a real battle to keep spoken word and poetry going, and at times my refereeing hasn’t really been as good as I’d like it to be, with mistakes and confusion creeping back in where I’d previously been pretty confident and assured.

Now imagine how much I’d suffer *without* those reasonable adjustments if I moved jobs. They’re my legal right, but because I’m autistic, I can find them incredibly difficult to articulate in a way that’s useful for an employer. It’s been a grind to get them to the relatively well-defined point that they are now. If I have to move jobs now, I’ll have to go through the process of building them all over again, and you KNOW my mental health isn’t strong enough for me to get through that without more damage. And that’s if any new manager was as receptive to them as my last two have been (which, from my experience in the past and awareness of other people’s managers, is hugely unlikely). If I end up with a manager who’s set in their ways, or lacks empathy, or, honestly, reflect the general levels of understanding of disability I see throughout society… I’m in a bad spot. A worse spot than the one that’s made me question if it’s worth carrying on.

Unless we have a Labour government.

Cos in their manifesto, there’s a pledge to roll out “a government-backed Reasonable Adjustments Passport scheme to help people move between jobs more easily”. This means I’d have an official, government-endorsed document saying “this is what Charles needs, and it’s your legal obligation to make sure he has it”. It’d be normalised, enshrined in law, and easy. It’d make something devastatingly stressful so much easier.

“Life and death” always seems like a dramatic way to phrase these things, but look at suicide rates for men in their 30s, look at the life expectancy for autistic people (it’s 36. Thirty six. One schoolchild older than I am now), and it doesn’t seem so dramatic. I need a living to survive. I need to work. But I need to be *able* to work, or survival becomes a very complicated concept. This one policy will make it a million times easier. It might let me have a career instead of just a job.

This has been a “reason to vote Labour on December 12th” post. Please do that thing.

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