Should I disclose my MS to my employer?

In this video Mike interviews Steph McElroy who is a Occupational Therapist. The interview was filmed by Grant

Video transcript

MS Reporter: Mike. Should I disclose my MS to my employer?
MS Expert,Steph McElroy.Occupational Therapist.
Okay. That is entirely up to you, and you don’t have to, that’s your personal information and sometimes it’s, with any diagnosis you need time to get your head round it and so on and so forth, and to decide what your plans are. And so you don’t need to. I guess if things start becoming a little bit more difficult and it’s very apparent maybe that there’s something not quite right, then the boss probably needs to know, you need to have that quiet discussion. But that should be a quiet discussion and not made known to everybody else within, you know, your workplace. It is up to the manager then obviously to look at making reasonable adjustments if that’s needed. And that’s something that you can negotiate, but it might be good to have somebody, like your occupational therapist, to help you in that situation, to actually sit with you with your line manager or whoever, or occupational health or whatever, and look at what’s necessary to change that, to change those reasonable adjustments in order for you to maintain work as long as possible, because that’s what you want to do. And that’s what everybody has, you know, has a right to do. So the answer to the question is no, I have seen people almost immediately tell their boss, their line manager. I’m not saying that’s probably the best thing to do, but it’s whatever works best for you, I think.

MS Reporter: Mike, I know from my own experience that I didn’t really have any choice. I had an MS attack in work, so I didn’t really- it was kind of taken outside of my control. And I’m fortunate that my work have been really good for me. For example, I’ve got to go for a lumbar puncture on Monday and my boss is like, oh, that’s fine, you know, take as much time as you need, and he’s able to sort of accommodate it. But I guess, I suppose it’s, from a legal perspective, is there any- what would we expect an employer to really be able to do for us in terms of reasonable adjustments? Because I suppose for me working in an office it’s easy enough, you know, I get the opportunity to work from home, but if you have a job that’s kind of less skilled you might not have that capability, then what kind of things might we expect an employer to do?

Steph McElroy, I think that’s quite difficult to answer, because places are so vastly different. But something like you’re in the office, it might be that you have your desk close to the toilet or that you maybe have somebody who gets you into work in a safe place, or whatever it happens to be. But then I’ve returned people to work, maybe you’ve worked in a factory and so on. So it might be something as simple as being able to sit down to work, rather than stand up, which is what you’ve normally done. I know I did a return to work for somebody who worked in the post office and they normally stood up so they could reach up, well, just sitting down. That was the most obvious thing to do, it just helped so much. So it can be something as simple as that. But there are obviously processes to go through and some workplaces, I guess they’re almost fearful, but I think they’re fearful of any sort of illness or anything that’s not what they would expect and it’s about working with them, it’s often educating them as well, because I think they feel that, oh no, you can’t work any more. Well, that’s certainly not the case. But the adjustments may be that you perhaps go down to part-time or that you go different hours so that you’re not stuck in traffic before you get there, or whatever it happens to be, and it’s about negotiating it. But sometimes I think you do need the support of somebody else to negotiate and from a legal point of view, even if it was eventually that you were perhaps going to have to finish work, there are processes to go to, you can’t just suddenly be told that you’re finishing work, so just be aware of that.

MS Reporter: Mike

Expert: Steph McElroy, Occupational Therapist

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