What Employment Rights Do People with Chronic Illness Have?

Chronic illnesses are naturally unpredictable. Flare-ups of conditions such as arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and lupus can have a huge effect on your ability to work, with many sufferers finding it impossible to continue their normal routine when at their worst. If your employer is treating you unfairly because of your chronic illness, there is action you can take.

Reasonable Adjustments

Employers should take any chronic illness you have declared seriously and, where possible, make adjustments for you to be able to continue working. Failure to do this could be classed as discrimination. Examples of reasonable adjustments could be allowing you to start work later if your pain is worse in a morning, working from home if that is a viable option, or providing you with specialist equipment that can make it easier for you to continue to work, such as wrist supports.

Alternative Roles

There may be the possibility for your employer to adjust your duties temporarily or permanently if you are unable to carry them out safely. For example, if your job involves heavy lifting but you have been diagnosed with brittle bone disease and advised not to overexert yourself, your boss may be able to give you an alternative office-based role.

Still a Human Being

You have the right to be treated with respect, which means that no one in your workplace can mock or belittle you because of your chronic illness or the impact that has on the quality or quantity of work you conduct. If you believe you have been the victim of workplace bullying or unfair treatment because of your condition, contact an employment law specialist such as nosratilaw.com who will be able to advise on your case. 

Sick Leave/Holiday

If you are regularly unable to work because of your chronic illness, you might quickly run out of annual leave/sick leave. Talk to your boss or HR department about options, which might include unpaid leave or alternative working arrangements. Always get a medical sick note from a doctor or healthcare professional saying you are unfit to work if you are unwell – this proves you have sought and are following the professional’s advice.

Reduced Hours

If the hours you are working are causing your chronic illness to worsen, you are within your rights to approach your boss and ask for a reduction in working hours on a medical basis. This does not mean your request will necessarily be met, but it should be considered fairly.

Mental Health

Having a chronic illness is known to have a negative impact on mental health as well as physical health. If your company has an occupational therapy team, they may be able to support you. Remember, poor mental health can also be a chronic illness and can impact your ability to work as much as physical illness.

Looking after your well-being is vital so be your own advocate at work to ensure you are getting the support to which you are entitled.