I've got a serious latex allergy and don't want to go to the Christmas party because I'm embarrassed to ask them not to use balloons. What should I do?

Latex sensitivity is a serious problem. It is estimated that up to 3.6 million people in Britain are already sensitised, including 17% of nurses. It costs employers, such as the NHS, millions of pounds in days lost through sickness. You should try and speak to whoever is responsible for health and safety issues in your organisation.

Once you have told your employer that you have a health issue, it is their responsibility to consider what can be done to safeguard your welfare. They also have a duty to keep information about your health confidential (unless you give them permission to disclose it) so not everyone has to be told of your sensitivity to latex, if that's not what you want. Your employer simply has to take reasonable steps to prevent you suffering injury – including in this case making sure no balloons are used.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.