Sarah: What would you say contributes to a successful outcome for work outcomes for MSers?
Rebecca Armstrong, HR Consultant: I think the main thing is for somebody with MS to be able to contribute fully to their role and to feel valued in their role, much the same for anybody else. So when we go to work we want to go to work and we want to do a good job and we know we want to progress, we want to have the ability to perform, the ability to over-perform and all of those different things. And that shouldn’t be different for somebody who has MS.
So really, it’s the employer’s responsibility to think about how they create that environment of inclusion. So for me a good outcome is that they feel valued, that they feel that they have the right level of support, through adjustments, through understanding, somebody who they can talk to if they’re having a bad day and need some additional support sort of short term. And all of that put in place will then enable the person to deliver the best that they can deliver in their role for which they’re employed to do, really. So for me it’s about creating an environment where the outcomes are the same as for anybody else.
Sarah: Okay. Do you find employers are quite receptive to that?
Rebecca: For me there’s three different types of employers. So in my experience of working as an HR consultant, there are employers out there who are discriminatory, so they just categorically do not want somebody with a disability, you know, and they’re not willing to even look at it, so obviously that’s one thing. There’s employers out there who are brilliant and they are out there, there are some great employers out there.
And then there’s this group in the middle, and this group in the middle are the people who, through probably nervousness and through a lack of understanding and through the fear of getting it wrong, you know, they sometimes do get it wrong because they avoid dealing with things. And for me those people are absolutely receptive – and I would say that’s the vast majority – those people are absolutely receptive to doing what they can do to support somebody, as long as they’re getting that balance with business as well, of course.
So I do think employers are on the whole receptive and I think they are scared of being sued and, you know, of employment tribunals and all those different things. And there’s a, you know, there’s a discomfort about talking to somebody about health sometimes and about disability, it can be a bit of an uncomfortable subject for someone.
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