Being diagnosed with MS doesn’t automatically mean you have to leave your job – quite the opposite in fact! Leaving work is a personal choice; everyone is different and experiences different symptoms, so the decision will depend completely upon an individual’s circumstances. Essentially; you do you.
But if you do decide to stay at work, you may find that you have to make changes to your work life, to adapt to your MS symptoms and this may involve talking to your boss and colleagues about your condition.
We’ve answered some of the concerns you may have when it comes to MS, work life and talking about your condition:
1) Should I tell my boss?
You don’t have to, but you might want to.
This may not be the straight forward answer you were looking for, but there are a couple of things to consider before you decide on this one.
If you work in a job where MS could have an impact on your own health and safety or the health and safety of others, then it would be wise to tell your employer. If it involves activities like operating heavy machinery or driving for example, you should let your employer know.
Otherwise, it’s completely up to you! If you need support at work or if you want to request reasonable adjustments, it will probably be helpful to explain exactly why. Or if you’re worried about the impact MS might have on your work in the future then you might choose to tell them simply so they are aware. For example, if they understand that fatigue is a symptom of MS, they can understand how this may affect your work.
2) What “reasonable adjustments” should I ask for?
If you decide you do need extra support at work, you can speak to your boss about reasonable adjustments. A reasonable adjustment is a change your employer has to make to your job or the place you work, in order to ensure you are not at a disadvantage compared to your colleagues.
Reasonable adjustments will depend on your symptoms, your job and your work environment, but some examples include:
3) If I want to tell my boss, how do I approach the topic?
We know it’s not necessarily easy to talk about your MS at the best of times and it can feel even more intimidating talking about your condition and symptoms with employers and colleagues. But don’t worry, there are a few ways to make the “MS chat” feel less awkward and more constructive.
4) What about my colleagues?
Once again, you do not have to tell your colleagues about your MS and your boss isn’t allowed to tell anyone either unless you’ve said it’s ok. Disclosing your condition to your colleagues may be a good idea if you want to help them understand why and when you may need extra support. Colleagues are often friends too, so having their support may make work life with MS much easier.