To help you make informed decisions about employment, we've provided answers to some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) that we receive. If you have any further questions about employment and MS please call our InfoLine on 1800 177 591 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
"Should I disclose that I have MS to my employer?" "If I’m employed when diagnosed with MS, what responsibilities does my employer have to assist me and make modifications to my role or workspace if required over time?”
There is no legal obligation for you to disclose your MS to your employer (with a few exceptions) however research shows that people who disclose their MS are able to remain in the workplace for longer. Essentially, disclosure provides an opportunity for the employer and employee to work together to address any issue that may arise such as flexible working hours or physical workspace modifications.
The exception to this guideline includes:
when you are asked directly if you have any medical condition or illness;
when your MS symptoms pose a workplace risk to self and or others (e.g. sight problems in a role where vision is essential); or
when your MS related symptoms prevent you from meeting the core requirements of the position.
Under these circumstances it is important that you make a disclosure of MS.
Generally speaking influencing factors include:
how MS affects you over time and what MS symptoms you develop;
your role and how MS affects your ability to do this role;
the workplace environment/culture; and
support with workplace issues.
THE LAWS OF PROTECTION
People living with a disability including MS are protected by State and Commonwealth discrimination laws in a number of areas of life including employment. In Queensland this means that an employer has a responsibility to make 'reasonable adjustments' in the workplace to assist in managing issues that arise. For example it could be considered fair and reasonable for an employer to adjust your workplace environment through flexible work hours to assist in managing fatigue. Equally, it is discriminatory and therefore illegal to treat a person with MS differently because they have MS (such as not being considered for a promotion because of their MS rather than their ability).
Privacy Laws can also offer protection around disclose and sharing of your personal medical information in the workplace.
There are many services available to assist with workplace issues.
MS Queensland can assist through the provision of information and support, employer or employee education on MS, and/ or by helping engage other services.
The federal government subsidises programs that provide financial support to assist with workplace assessments and modifications specifically aimed at assist people to remain employed (eg Job Access)
Disability Employment Services (DES) providers are based throughout Queensland. They are funded to provide specialist support to people whose jobs are in jeopardy due to MS and to assist people with MS to find employment. Eligibility is on an individual basis assessed independently of MS Queensland.
Many people with MS will be in the position where they are seeking employment at different stages of their life or career. This could be because they are no longer able to do the work they were originally trained for, due to a negative workplace experience, seeking a new career path, redundancy or simply seeking work after parenting or other leave.
If you are seeking work and unsure how to approach information about your MS the same guidelines around disclosure apply. However it is a positive step to prepare how and when to disclose MS if this is your decision. Speaking that over with one of our staff could be of benefit as it provides you with the best opportunity to paint a clear picture of your individual experience of MS and set the path for future.
There are specialist Employment Services available to assist people who are having difficulty finding employment due to MS called Disability Employment Service Providers. Disability Employment Services providers offer a range of services to support your individual needs which can include:
help to prepare for work, including training in specific job skills;
job-search support such as résumé development, training in interview skills, and help in looking for suitable jobs;
support when initially placed into a job including on-the-job training and co-worker and employer support;
ongoing support in a job if required;
the purchase of vocational training and other employment-related assistance;
access to help with workplace modifications; and
Information about these services are provided below.
If you would like to know more about employment and MS please visit our resource centre or call our InfoLine on 1800 177 591.
To help the MS community, we have developed a comprehensive ‘Working with MS’ workshop which is held in a number of locations across Queensland each year. The workshop is facilitated by our Manager of Community Services, Marg Hegarty, along with guest speaker representatives from a Disability Employment Service and Maurice Blackburn Lawyers. The aim of the workshop is to give people with MS the tools to make informed decisions about employment and planning for their future.
To see an upcoming calendar of workshops near you, click here.
“I was already working for Queensland Health five years ago when I was diagnosed with MS. Unfortunately my husband is in-between jobs at the moment so I feel the added pressure of maintaining a regular income to support my family. Luckily for me, my workplace has been extremely supportive of my MS. I found the ‘Working with MS’ session particularly interesting on superannuation and eligibility for healthcare cards. It was extremely helpful and nice to chat with other people with MS who are in the workforce.”
Customer diagnosed in 2009.
“Before I attended the ‘Working with MS’ workshop I had no idea about the mobility allowance.’ I’m actively seeking work, and to hear that I’m entitled to the mobility allowance – despite previously being denied – gives me hope and has really opened by eyes. I’m now interested to find out more information and it’s great to hear that I can call Employment Options for a free consultation and to discuss my current employment situation. This is the first time I have attended one of MS Queensland’s workshops – it was great to talk to other people with MS going through similar employment issues and to hear that there is a network of support available to me.”
Customer diagnosed in 1995.
“If it wasn’t for being proactive and involved with MS Queensland I wouldn’t have known about any of the services and support available. My RSC is great and has opened my eyes to all the information and education workshops available. By linking up with a support worker from Employment Options, I now have access to cooling bests and neck packs which I can leave at work and use when my body becomes overheated."
Customer diagnosed in 2004.
- Australian Job Search – Employment Service/Provider Search
- Job Access (Australian Government Initiative)
- Job Access – Employment Assistance Fund
- Centrelink – Disability Employment Services
- Centrelink – Jobs in Jeopardy
- Centrelink – Mobility Allowance
For more information on employment and MS please call our InfoLine between 8:30am and 4:30pm Mondays to Fridays on 1800 177 591.