Information for Employees
Productive work is
part of a satisfying lifeand MS does not spell the end of being
productive. So the answer is yes. You should work.
The real question
involves how, where, and at what level you will work. Your chapter of
the National MS Society has information, referrals, and programs to help
you find good answers.
symptoms are overwhelming! How can I work at all?
people drop out of the work force when they are first diagnosed or experience
a major exacerbation. They make decisions while they are in the middle
of a crisis.
People with MS have
a lifetime to live with a disease that may fluctuate unpredictably, produces
different symptoms at different times, and is not inevitably disabling.
It takes time to discover
how symptoms can be managed, and whether they will affect a current job
or a planned career. If you are employed and need time to recover from
a crisis, investigate sick leave policy, short-term disability insurance
coverage, or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which is leave without
pay. When the crisis resolves, you can begin exploring your options. It
is almost always easier to return to work than to find a new job.
other people with MS hold real jobs?
Societys latest survey indicates that 35% of people with MS are
employed after 20 years with the disease. The National MS Society believes
this figure will improve.
drugs, new technology, better symptom management, and new public attitudes
are changing life with MS.
recovered from my attack but I cant do things I used to be able
a highly individual problem, but not one a person with MS has to face
alone. Before talking to your employer about your limitations or special
needs, get professional advice.
Call your National
MS Society chapter. Ask for referrals to an occupational therapist, a
career counselor, or your state vocational rehabilitation office. Your
chapter also has information on the Americans with Disabilities Act, or
ADA, and on accommodation strategies.
The ADA is a civil
rights law for people with disabilities. It has several key provisions
that may help with employment issues:
- An employee must
be able to perform the essential functions of a job, but unessential
functions can and should be assigned to others.
- An employee may
request reasonable accommodations to perform duties of the job;
the employee researches and proposes the accommodations.
- An employee may
not have to disclose a medical diagnosis in order to obtain ADA protections
initially. However, you must disclose you have a disability in order
to ask for accommodations. You will need to explain that accommodations
will help you be productive in spite of a medical condition. Your employer
may require additional documentation and/or a medical diagnosis.
are some examples of reasonable accommodations?
- Flex time
- Parking privileges
- Equipment or software
that enhances work performance
- Combining short
breaks into a longer rest period
isnt working too stressful?
People with MS often
hear that they should stop working to control stress. Unemployment does
not cure stress.
Having a chronic potentially
disabling disease like MS causes stress, but a direct cause and effect
relationship between stress and the onset or worsening of MS has not been
established despite many research studies.
The National MS Society suggests controlling stress by using mental-health
counseling, support groups, exercise, time management instruction, improved
diet, and wellness clinics. Techniques such as yoga, visualization, meditation,
and biofeedback can also be effective.
you may need
JAN (Job Accommodation
These Society publications
Ask your chapter for
these publications, referrals to counselors and therapists, your nearest
vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency, and other resources. Also, ask
if your chapter sponsors the Career Crossroads program. Call
1-800-FIGHT-MS (1-800-344-4867) to be connected to the nearest
National MS Society office.