What's your problem?

My office chair is giving me a back ache...

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 03 May 2011

I have been working with my company for just over a year and all is going swimmingly - apart from one thing. I have been getting the most incredible neck and back aches and I'm sure it's down to the cheap chairs we have to sit on. The company I work for is a start-up, so I know we don't have cash to burn, but I'm spending so much money on massage treatments, that I might as well buy a new bloody chair myself. Does my employer have any legal obligation in the chair stakes?

A: My heart always sinks when people start talking about legal obligations. Of course they need to exist and of course we should all know what they are and of course, as a last resort, companies should be held to them; but it's nearly always better to start with amiable conversations, nifty ideas and a smidgen of humour. The moment legalities worm their way into human relationships, something dies.

Of course you should consider buying a new chair. There are specialist back shops in many towns and lots online. First, you need to be sure you're right in your diagnosis. Have you had a professional opinion? If and when you've found the right chair, go to your boss with a detailed analysis of your predicament: doctor's prognosis, cost to date of massage, likely future days off sick, price range of suitable chairs ... and so on.

Chances are he'll say: 'Oh, for God's sake. Just buy the bloody chair and send me the bill.'

- Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. His book Another Bad Day at the Office? is published by Penguin at £6.99. Address your problem to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@mtmagazine.co.uk. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Upcoming Events


Get your essential reading delivered. Subscribe to Management Today