How flexible are employers willing to be when supporting MSers at work?

In this video Rebecca interviews Rony Erez who is a Senior Policy Officer MS Society. The interview was filmed by Shift.ms

Video transcript

Rebecca: In your experience, once somebody’s in a position, how flexible are employers willing to be around changing hours and helping people be more flexible if they have MS?

 

Rony Erez: Well, that really depends. I mean changing hours and having flexibility is part of what we call sometimes reasonable adjustments. So reasonable adjustments are something that an employer should reasonably be expected to provide for a person with MS to help them do their job.

 

It can be anything from providing equipment to changing working hours. So, for example, a person doesn’t need to travel at rush hour to get to work, or giving them rest breaks.

 

Now, employers are reasonably expected to provide that, but what is reasonable changes from employer to employer, it depends on their size and what they do, on the position that a person holds, and so on.

 

So, it really, really depends whether an employer provides any flexibility for a person with MS and as well for a person with MS to always have this conversation with their employer because some people think oh, an employer won’t do that, whereas sometimes they would.

 

If a person with MS asks for a reasonable adjustment and the employer refuses, they need to explain why.

 

Yeah, okay. So how would someone with MS go about making that request? So I guess there’s a lot of nervousness around disclosure, is it the right thing to do, so what would be your advice around that to someone with MS?

So you mentioned disclosure and that is a very difficult subject for a lot of people, not just people with MS but for disabled people generally.

 

And I think that there is nervousness around there and it is somewhat justified because people think that employers won’t help them and they think that hiring someone with MS might be costly and so on.

 

However, most people with MS do disclose their condition to their employer, because at some point, I guess, for people with MS, symptoms start to show and it becomes quite obvious that they do need some support in the workplace to continue to do their job.

 

So, when a person discloses, so we know that most people disclose but we know that only about over half of the people who disclose the condition actually have reasonable adjustments offered to them.

 

So it’s worth actually bringing it up yourself and it’s really worth kind of preparing yourself for the conversation around disclosure. So, coming to your employer and saying, I have MS and this is what I think would help me, or do you think you can provide any support for me.

 

It’s really worth it to also really prepare for this conversation by perhaps speaking to your MS nurse or even speaking to organisations that support people with MS, like the MS Society who have a lot of information about this and we can provide booklets, our helpline can provide information and so on.

 

Again, whether an employer actually does that or not is, it depends on them. They might provide some of them, they might not provide some of them. Really depends.

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