When dealing with a persistent medical condition, stress due to a physical problem and work pressure may at times be more than you can handle. You have to cope with the ailment while at work and also might have to adapt a new working style to accommodate any slowdown to your assigned tasks.

It helps to be informed on your rights and best practices you can follow under such circumstances.

Often, the first question that comes an employees’ mind is:

Should I tell my Employer about my present medical condition?

Although it is not required to inform your employer or your medical condition at the time of interview or after, but it is good to inform your supervisor/boss on what could be expected further down the months with the particular medical condition you have.

You may request your boss not to disclose to other employees if you wish so, but always a good idea to keep your supervisor updated on any short-term or long-term sickness related absences. Not only that, your employers might also assist you to a better working schedule or surroundings making things easier for you.

Not telling your employer might not be the best idea in some circumstances – for instance what if your medication causes drowsiness for some time and you have to have it during work hours? Depending on your work environment it could be hazardous or just in appropriate. If your manager knows the reason of your inability to perform to your best during certain hours, it might well be excused.

You may also request flexible work schedule or part-time work when possible. In some countries legislation protects your right to work with long-term medical condition (cancer for example) you may also have the right to request flexible work schedule.


According to a 2002 National Health Interview Survey, arthritis is keeping almost 7 million American workers from performing their best at their workplace.

In an article on About.com, the authors discuss how to manage your work environment when dealing with arthritis. An article on arthritis-treatment-and-relief.com suggests the Ten Tips to Avoid Aches and Pains in the Office.


Family and Medical Leave Act

In the US you may take an extended medical leave to recover from your ailment. According to US Department of Labor, under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA):

Covered employers must grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:

  • for the birth and care of the newborn child of the employee;
  • for placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care;
  • to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
  • to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.

Read more on this topic at the above DOL website link. Also note that there have been some changes in 2009 to this act, you must also get some related information from your employer on the possible leaves you can take.

There are limitations to coverage of FMLA (Source of this info: Findlaw):
The FMLA does not apply to all employers, or to all employees. The FMLA only covers employers with 50 or more workers, who have employed 50 or more workers for at least the past 20 weeks. It also applies to public agencies, regardless of the number of employees, and to elementary and secondary schools, both public and private. The FMLA only applies to employees who have worked for a covered employer for a minimum of 12 months, although these 12 months do not need to be consecutive. Additionally, the employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer during the previous 12 months, at a site where the employer has 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.

You might also want to know about the Disability Discrimination Act to understand your rights against discrimination at work due to any disability or medical condition.

There are some updates from the US Department of Labor and helps us better understand FMLA:


Who does the FMLA help?

The FMLA helps families. It helps the young mother bond with her new-born child. It helps the middle-aged man nurse his wife through post-operative care. It helps the 20-year-old woman care for the dying grandmother who raised her from childhood and it helps the father care for the son who lost his legs defending this country. Children thrive, the sick recover, the wounded heal and the aged take their final journey in peace, surrounded by the families they love. The protections provided by the FMLA mean that workers do not have to choose between the jobs they need and the families they love.

The FMLA helps individual workers. It helps the 30-year-old special education teacher recover from surgery, so she can get back to the students that depend on her. It helps the 50-year-old nursing home janitor with pneumonia recover at home, so patients are not exposed, and it helps the young man keep his family’s health insurance while he recovers from a car accident.

Finally, the FMLA helps businesses. It helps employers maintain a healthy workplace, and, it helps employers retain a skilled, productive and committed workforce. Families benefit, workers succeed, businesses profit and economies prosper when nations address the challenges of balancing work and family.


How does the FMLA help?

The FMLA protects jobs. Eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period to care for a spouse, parent or child with a serious health condition, or to recover from their own serious health condition. And they may take up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a family member injured during covered service in the armed forces. Eligible mothers and fathers can take job-protected leave for the birth or adoption of a child and workers can continue employer-sponsored health coverage for themselves and their families while on FMLA leave. Military families may take leave to address issues that arise when a military member is deployed to a foreign country and to spend time with the military member on Rest and Recuperation leave. The FMLA protects workers who just 20 years ago were too often forced to choose between keeping their job or caring for a loved one or newborn child.

What do the new regulations do?

Now, military family members can take leave to care for a covered veteran who is seriously ill or injured. They can now take additional time, up to 15 days of leave, to be with a service member who is on leave from active duty. It is in honor of those service men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice that the new rule makes clear the FMLA protects the jobs of family members who must take leave to attend funeral services. Now, airline pilots and flight crews who were frequently ineligible for FMLA due to their unique work schedules are entitled to the same protections as other workers in their industry.


The US Disability Discrimination Act

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations. The ADA’s nondiscrimination standards also apply to federal sector employees under section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, and its implementing rules.
(Get the complete information at: http://www.eeoc.gov/types/ada.html )