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How to work with a chronic illness

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Anyone that has been diagnosed with a chronic illness must be able to strike a balance between their health and their career — giving proper attention to both. While there are a number of major lifestyle changes that must be made, it is possible to hold a job while dealing with a chronic illness.

Notify your employer or HR department

Some employees wish to keep their chronic illness a secret from their employer, but this often creates serious problems in the future. By notifying the employer, health department, or HR representative, an employee can ensure that all involved parties have all of the information and can begin making any necessary changes.

Research your rights as an employee

The employment laws concerning those with disabilities can be vague and confusing, but everyone should know their rights. Each company will have their own policies regarding sick days, bank holidays, and time off, but any company with more than 15 employees cannot discriminate against those with chronic illnesses or disabilities. Understanding your rights will make it easier to approach your boss or superiors and come to a fair agreement regarding the matter.

Prepare nearby staff

No one wants to create a sense of fear or panic in the workplace, but coworkers and employers may need to make adjustments in order to maintain a safe environment for an employee with a chronic illness. For example, it is important to know the dos and don’ts if an epileptic coworker is having a seizure. If elements of your illness are life threatening, it is helpful for those around you to be aware of how to react.

Find the support you need

Dealing with any chronic illness on your own can be overwhelming, but attempting to maintain a career with absolutely no support will be nearly impossible. Employees with a chronic illness should begin considering their options for help by seeking out services such as counselling or a support group. This is also a good time to reach out to friends and family and let them know how they can help with things like preparing meals or offering rides.

Contact a legal representative when in doubt

Anyone that feels as if their rights as an employee with a disability are being infringed upon should speak with a legal representative immediately. No discrimination should be tolerated whatsoever. An experienced lawyer can help employees understand what rights they have, and what can be done if their employer is discriminating against them. A Mankato worker’s compensation attorney also suggests that you report any workplace incidents that might have an effect on your condition.

Maintaining a job while dealing with a chronic illness is going to require some major changes in your life, but a few extra steps will allow this to be a stress-free and productive time in your life.

Do you have any advice on how to work with a chronic illness? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo: Daniele Pieroni / Flickr

Dixie is a freelance writer who loves to write for business, finance, women’s interests, and education. Dixie lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters who are the inspiration for her writing.
Dixie SomersHow to work with a chronic illness

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