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Disclosing your MS at work

8th August 2019

Whether or not you decide to disclose your MS to your employer is your choice, but the decision isn’t always simple. It should be based on your own needs and priorities, and the effect of your symptoms on your daily work duties.

Your workplace rights are protected under the Fair Work Act, which states that employers must take reasonable steps to accommodate the working needs of employees with multiple sclerosis, unless this causes unjustifiable hardship to the business.

Before you disclose, consider the possible benefits and consequences of making your diagnosis public.

The benefits of disclosing may include:

  • additional employer support with renegotiating work hours and duties
  • the opportunity to ask for modifications to your workspace to suit your needs, and increase your overall productivity at work
  • your employer understanding why you need to take extended time off when you are having a relapse, or have a specialist appointment
  • raising awareness of the condition and challenging inaccurate stereotypes people may have about MS.

The potential consequences of disclosing are that:

  • employers and colleagues may have negative views or inaccurate stereotypes about multiple sclerosis
  • employers and colleagues may also be concerned that you will frequently need to take time off, putting more pressure on them
  • your employer may assume that you will not want or be eligible for further training or promotions
  • colleagues may act differently towards you, focusing on your health status rather your work talents and abilities.

If you do choose to disclose your MS to your employer, it may be helpful to talk through your decision with our employment services staff at Multiple Solutions to get advice on your options. Based on your relationship with your employer, decide if you want to have an informal chat or a formal meeting and take a support person along with you if you need. Write down what you discussed and send it to your employer afterwards, so you have a record of what was agreed. REMEMBER, your employer is not allowed to tell your colleagues about your MS unless you have said it is okay to do so.

Contact our specialist Disability Employment Services staff for advice and support on disclosing your MS in the workplace on 1800 053 154.

Sources:

MS Australia, Guide for Employees

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Disclosing your MS at work