Work and MS

Balancing work while living with MS                                               

Is it possible to still remain in employment when you have MS? For some the answer is yes, for others it’s a no, and for Jack Osbourne the answer may unfortunately be no, too. He claims his offer to work on the Stars Earn Stripes programme was withdrawn when the network learnt he has MS.

As a person with MS, Jack isn’t alone in finding it challenging to work. Fifty four per cent of people with MS in Ireland are unemployed due to their condition. While this figure includes those who have decided not to work, more importantly it also includes people who want to work, but have found it impossible to overcome obstacles found in many workplaces.

You’ve told us that there’s still a lot of confusion about what’s possible in terms of work and career. This confusion and lack of understanding is reflected by the difficulties people with MS face when looking for work and applying for jobs.

Some employers may find themselves in the position of not really knowing what to do when one of their employees is diagnosed with MS, and for the person with MS there’s the added risk of perceived discrimination.

Increasingly, however, employers are tailoring the workplace to their employees’ needs. This means making small but significant changes, such as rearranging office furniture, changing shifts, introducing flexible working arrangements, allowing more rest breaks, and alternating duties. All of these simple measures can make a real difference to the person with MS. Grants are available to employers to assist in making changes to the workplace.

For employees who are uncertain of their rights and entitlements in the workplace, the CAB and Equality Authority offer guidelines and advice, including details of the Employment Equality Act’s 9 grounds of discrimination.

Have you ever found yourself in Jack Osbourne’s position? Is having MS an issue when it comes to work?