Advice for Employers:

The workplace is a major part of life. For many of us, it is where we spend a large part of our day, our week and our year. As an employer, it is essential that your workplace has the right supports in place to enable your workforce to be successful. People living with MS may benefit from additional supports and changes to their work environment.

Many people living with a chronic condition may not feel comfortable discussing this with their employer so it is important to consider that there may be members of your workforce that need support. This page looks at some of the measures you can take as employer to provide recommended support to people living with MS and other chronic conditions.

The Physical Space

What kind of provisions can be put in place to support people living with MS in their working environment?

  • Setting up an appropriate workspace is all about ensuring the individual is comfortable and enabled to work to their full ability. Certain physical supports and practical changes can make a great difference. If there is already an open dialogue with any employee who feels they may benefit from additional support, it might be of benefit to ask them if they have any specific ideas or needs that you can address.
  • Employers should outline the supports that may be available to every staff member: e.g. time off for appointments, ergonomic chairs / adapted furniture, work from home policy, condensed working hours etc.
  • If any of these supports are not already in place, employers should consider how they can include them or let their workforce know that specific arrangements can be made with them on an individual basis. Being flexible is a great asset to have as an employer, and attractive to employees, including people living with MS or any other chronic condition.
Someone with a dark top writing with a pen onto paper on a clipboard at a table.
An overhead view of three individuals working together at a desk in an office setting.
Two ladies speaking to each other by a window in an office setting.

How do you know how much is too much? How do patients evaluate if they are doing too much / may be able to take on more?

  • Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms experienced by people living with MS, so it is very important that employers reassure their workforce about the need to take this debilitating symptom seriously. 
  • Each person living with MS is different, and so too, is their limit. As an employer, you should enable each person to work within their own limits and encourage them to take adequate rest. Many people living with MS can gauge their own fatigue levels and know when it would be beneficial for them to take a break. Feeling comfortable is a good first step. Enabling them to be flexible – with their breaks and working arrangements will ensure they do not feel pressure to work beyond their capacity.
  • Stress can be a trigger for many people living with MS and can amplify or worsen their symptoms2. Some employers can provide extended breaks or allow sporadic breaks throughout the day, so that people can step away from their workspace. Many individuals with MS practice other therapies such as mindfulness or meditation. Creating a comfortable quiet space for employees to use as needed is a great way to encourage rest and reduce stress.
  • Many people living with MS are very driven to work hard to achieve personally and professionally, which can lead to many individuals not wanting to disclose their condition to employers in case it acts as a barrier to progression. Be mindful of this and consider providing reassurance to all staff members the importance that you place on equality in the workplace.

The Physical Space

What types of exercise are helpful for those living with MS?

    • In addition to improving general health and wellbeing, exercise and physical activity are helpful in managing many of the symptoms caused by MS3. Everyone living with MS should be encouraged to discuss exercise with their physician or physiotherapist to ensure they are comfortable with their level of activity, and to be mindful of the fact that it may need to be adjusted over time.
    • Stretching exercises can be practiced easily in a lot of different environments, and help to improve muscle tone, endurance and strength4. The following information booklet from MS Ireland includes some suggested exercises and stretches for people living with MS:

Living and working with MS

In the documentary series, people living with MS discussed their work environments and their relationships with their employers. To learn more, watch the full videos below

John Lee MS at Work

 “Last year was the first year I felt safe and comfortable to talk to my boss about it. It is liberating, and it’s great that I was able to share with other people – and they all said, “well that makes sense now!”

And that in a way was very relieving to know, to know that I was able to carry on at my job and not have to worry about hiding my condition.”

John, Teacher


“He just told me, pretty bluntly and directly, that he has Multiple Sclerosis. I just said to him that it doesn’t make a bit of difference to anything here, but is there anything that we can do to help?”

John’s Employer

Employer Checklist:

Is your work environment suitable for people living with MS?

  • Are you familiar with Multiple Sclerosis? Visit to learn more about the signs and symptoms of MS and resources available to people living with MS in Ireland.
  • Have you taken any measures to ensure the workspace is physically suitable for working with MS or other chronic condition?
    • Is the environment wheelchair accessible (i.e. ramp if entrance is elevated; lift as well as stairs; wheelchair accessible toilet)
    • Are chairs and furniture ergonomically fitted / can adapt (e.g. standing desks)
    • Are appliances and utensils easily reachable?
    • Have you removed fluorescent lighting?
    • Do you have a quiet space available for ad hoc breaks / rest?
    • Do you have an accessible car parking space?
  • Do you have a disability or chronic illness policy?
  • Have you implemented any practices to ensure flexibility for people living with MS?
    • Are employees free to work from home when they choose?
    • Are breaks allowed / encouraged?
  • Have you communicated with all employees that they can confidentially discuss their working arrangements / needs with HR or relevant manager?