Before we jump into this post, it feels really important to emphasise that by no means is everybody with ME/CFS is well enough to pursue employment, nor should they be expected to. I also know first-hand just how difficult it can be to find accessible employment opportunities in the first place.
However, as one of the self-named in-betweeners living with the challenges of a debilitating chronic illness whilst trying to lead an independent and fulfilling life, I think it’s important that we share as much information on this topic as we possibly can. For a bit of background, you can read more about my personal experiences with employment and becoming a chronically ill freelancer here!
If you’re new to the world of employment, or you’re returning to work after a period of ill health, you might find it helpful to know your rights as a chronically ill employee – namely, the workplace adjustments (often referred to as ‘reasonable adjustments’) you’re entitled to. In a nutshell, reasonable adjustments are modifications designed to overcome the challenges that disabled employees face. If you have ME/CFS, your employer is obligated to make reasonable adjustments under the 2010 Equality Act.
Some workplace adjustments are common and well-implemented; people know to ask for them and employers know how to accommodate them. However, with a complex condition like ME/CFS, there may well be additional changes and adaptations that could benefit your wellbeing in the workplace – and many people simply don’t know that they have a right to ask for them. In this post, I’ve listed as many of these reasonable adjustments as I can think of, in the hope that they’ll help you to think about your own unique needs and how to discuss them with your employer.