Having a chronic illness is hard enough without having to negotiate your work life. However, it is important to understand your rights as an employee. If you are worried about your employment or being able to carry out your role, please talk to your lawyer. Below are some things you can do to protect yourself:
- Make notes of everything that occurs in chronological order – write notes and diary entries and ensure there are dates, times and locations.
- You don’t have to disclose to your employer about your chronic condition unless it impacts your work.
- You are entitled to 3 months off work (paid or unpaid depending on your entitlements) over a 12 month period.
- Your workplace need to make adjustments for you if it is reasonable to do so:
“Reasonable adjustments depend largely on the role, but may include things like ergonomic chairs for stability, allowances for longer periods to perform tasks, flexibility with time off work to attend appointments or to cope with periods of exacerbated symptoms. Employers do not have to provide reasonable adjustments if it would cause them an unjustifiable hardship (usually financial).”
- If you feel you are treated unfairly and being bullied by your colleagues or boss you can take out a “stop bullying order” by the Fair Work Commission.
You may have to leave your job if you can no longer do it, for example if a beautician became blind then they could no longer do their job. This can be a hard decision and may impact you financially and mentally. Ensure that you are able to talk to someone: friends, family or mental health professional.
If you have lost your job it is very difficult to stay positive. Just remember, it isn’t your fault that you have a chronic condition. Try to look for other roles, as there will be many other jobs that will be suitable, and everyone deserves to work.