We partnered with the MS Society on a webinaras we educated employers about what they need to know when attracting, hiring and retaining employees with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
What is MS?
MS is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. It triggers an immune response that causes inflammation and damage to the myelin sheath of nerve fibers. It is not yet known what causes this disorder.
Some common symptoms of MS include fatigue, tingling or numbness, problems with vision, pain, sensitivity to heat, bowel or bladder problems, cognitive disruption and changes in emotional state or depression. At present, there are approximately 400,000 people with MS in the U.S., rising to 2.3 million cases worldwide.
90% of individuals with MS have experience of working
For businesses hoping to hire more individuals with disabilities, it is important to realize that MS may not be diagnosed until a person is well-established in their career. Anyone can acquire a disability at any point in their lifetime.
For this reason, 90 percent of individuals with MS have work experience. This means a considerable proportion of individuals with MS have extensive experience in their chosen field and could hold high-level qualifications.
How to support individuals with MS in the workplace
Individuals with MS may need to take time out of work for medical appointments, or other needs. The same is true of employees who may be caregivers to family members with MS or other disabilities. Employers can support these needs and their employees by offering a range of accommodations like flexible work schedules, or options to telecommute when necessary.
Recognizing when an employee is asking for an accommodation due to a disability is key to retaining employees and fostering an inclusive workplace. It is important to remember that some of the most common accommodations an individual with MS may request or need will cost very little if anything at all.
Companies should also be aware that a person's need for accommodations may change over time; regular contact and an open dialogue are therefore essential. Providing awareness and education around disabilities like MS helps to create an inclusive workplace and environment where individuals feel more comfortable to disclose.