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It sounds like there are multiple OSHA violations at your work so you could report them.
You could buy your own chair for work and I believe you can write it off in tax as a work expense.
Given your long years of work experience you could almost certainly get into a distance learning Master’s degree in the U.K., e.g. the Queen Mary University of London MBA.
If you don’t have managerial experience of any kind I can recommend CeFIMS
You can start with an individual professional award and transfer to a Master’s proper and be done in three years for ~£10,000.
Alternatively you can get a US Bachelor’s for far less than tens of thousands of dollars through transfer credit and credit by examination like the community on degreeforum.net. People have done it in under a year.
It sounds like you’re in a bad situation. I hope things get better for you soon.
⬐ ryanmercer>You could buy your own chair for work and I believe you can write it off in tax as a work expense.
We have one employee with their own chair, it required a doctor's note, had to meet certain specifications (I thinks he actually had to show what she was going to buy first) and of course be purchased with their own money.
As far as the two sites you linked, I'm not in the United Kingdom and I doubt many employers would pay attention to those things in the United States.
As far as testing for credit, most colleges still require you to take a significant percentage of your courses through them.
The problem with a degree is I'm 34, if I magically had the funds today to pursue a degree I'd probably graduate around 39. Great, I'd be elligible for entry level work at 39 while there are many high school students graduating high school with an Associates degree and well on the way to their Bachelor's degree so I'd be competing for entry level work in whatever field against 20-22 year old applicants that are willing to work for less money and less benefits while I'm 39~.
Money and conditions aside, age discrimination is very real and degrees aren't even worth today what they were 10 years ago. I was browsing indeed.com trying to find a new job so I could cash out my pension and use it for tuition last week and was finding that even Administrative Assistant positions at small doctor/medical offices were wanting a 4-year degree and larger companies/government agencies were requiring them for the same type of job.
Now keep in mind there are millions, tens of millions, of working adults like me in similar (or worse) positions in life.
49~% of workers in the United States make less than 30k  yet 33.4 percent of Americans 25 or older said they had completed a bachelor’s degree or higher .
When we hear stories like this article, and then a quick search shows us that an average base salary at google might be 81-173k a year  with a mountain of benefits/perks and we here about 'years of misery' we just roll our eyes and think "well, if I cancel my gym membership, and don't have any emergencies, I can retire at 70 instead of 80 unless one of those AI companies puts me out of work."⬐ barry-cotter> As far as testing for credit, most colleges still require you to take a significant percentage of your courses through them.
They generally do but there are three with extremely generous policies, Thomas Edison State University, Charter Oak and Excelsior University in New York. The last demands only one capstone credit be with them. You can transfer everything else.⬐ jlokierI wonder if a part-time degree might help you. It would take longer, but you could do it while still working, and perhaps you could apply for positions that ask for degree-level education, while showing that you are in the process of doing a degree? (After all, there is no guarantee all jobs get fully qualified candidates applying, even though the ads ask for that.)⬐ ryanmercerI'm LDS (Mormon) and we have BYU which is well respected, there is a program called BYU-Pathway ( https://byupathway.lds.org ) where for the first year you drive to a local location and take some basic classes, that aren't accredited (so you can't get loans) but do convert to credit at BYU that I've been thinking about doing when the next round starts up here in a month or two, assuming there are enough local applicants to form a class (I've applied, just waiting for enough other people to).
After the year you can apply to BYU Idaho online and they've actually structured the degree in 'certificates' so you earn a 'certificate' from BYU to pad your CV, then another certificate, then another etc and eventually your Bachelor's.
The benefit here is BYU tuition is INSANELY cheap (if you don't fail any classes, 7,800 USD for your Bachelor's but that still stings when I factor in interest and the age handicap when I do have the degree).
The problem here is though, I can't get a loan for the 3 semester and it's something like 400$ a semester, up front each semester, which is a lot of money to me (most of a week's take home).
Also consider I have a GED, haven't been in school for 15-16 years... I've been doing the Khan Academy basic math (started basic division last night) to try and get into the habit of regular study and testing.
Mostly though I'm just doing a lot of "what can I sell and get 400$ for so I don't have to blow my emergency fund". I cancelled my gym membership yesterday which sucks as it's my entire social life, basically the only thing I look forward to and the owner is my friend and we had a bro-hug and both got kinda sad even though we will still see each other, and that savings will cover the 2nd and 3rd semester but doesn't help me with the first.
Last year I had talked myself into looking at WGU since you could do as much as you could handle and didn't pay per credit hour but per unit of time instead... yeah... I had some credits from a failed attempt at an Associates degree when I was 18... I had my transcript sent to them April 9th 2018, they emailed me 4 days ago with the evaluation... glad I didn't take out a bunch of loans for them...⬐ jlokierThose are tight circumstances, but you sound really well organized, with a good plan.
The inability to get even a $1200 loan when you have a sensible plan, sucks. Since you are LDS, famed for church community... is that something your church, friends or family might help out with?
In my experience, that's an amount friends lend each other if they've known each other a long time and can do it. Sometimes, with the understanding that the payback terms are extremely flexible. Because that isn't at all a hardship amount for everyone, and it sounds like it could make a big difference to your life.
Whatever you do, best of luck.⬐ ryanmercer>is that something your church, friends or family might help out with?
Yes, but I don't like asking for help. Worst case (hopefully they take card) I can put it on a card and then balance transfer to another card to buy some interest free time.
What chaps me is I fund a 529 (10-15$ a month over the past few years, figuring if I ever have kids I could transfer it to them) which would cover the first semester BUT since the first year isn't accredited... it's a non-qualified expense which means if I take the money to pay it I get hit with tax and penalty.