You asked: Working well
Living with lupus and maintaining full-time employment can be challenging. Below, Senior Human Resources Generalist Helena Costakis, who has a master’s degree in human resources/labor relations from Stony Brook University in New York, answers common workplace questions.
I have lupus and just started a new job. What can I do to ensure my success in my workplace?
- You are not obligated to disclose your specific diagnosis to your employer. However, employers generally welcome suggestions for accommodations that may improve your work performance or potentially prevent you from exacerbating any health issue you may have. Start by asking your health care provider for suggestions of accommodations that will help you do your best at your job. Take these ideas to your human resources (HR) manager, who can then evaluate what may or may not qualify as a reasonable accommodation. Work with your HR office and medical provider on what health information must be shared or certified to support your need for accommodation.
What are some things my employer might be able to do for me to assist or accommodate me at work?
- Every person with lupus is different, so the type of accommodations may vary. Some examples are replace fluorescent lights in your workspace with alternate types of lighting, or provide screen covers for the lights. They could also provide a special padded floor mat if you must be on your feet for long periods of time or provide a cushioned mouse pad/keyboard wrist guard to use with your computer. Additional accommodations might include assessing the ergonomics of your workspace and tools, such as a chair with good lumbar support or accessible shade when working outdoors or allowing scheduled rest periods and/or work-from-home days.
I have been out of work due to my lupus. How do I address gaps in my employment when preparing my résumé?
- Look back at the time you spent unemployed. What were you doing during that time? The skills you honed can be valuable to potential employers. Other tips include highlighting workplace skills and personal achievements with a bulleted list on the top of the résumé; writing a concise and professional cover letter detailing your skills and why you would be a great fit for the position; and realize that finding the right position for you will take time. Don’t give up!
Pain is a real problem for me, and I am worried I will not be fit to work. How do I know what types of jobs might be best for me?
- Talk to your health care provider regarding your strengths and limitations. Thoroughly read job descriptions, keeping an eye out for job requirements that might present complications. This will help you to be an informed applicant, and ultimately will contribute to your level of satisfaction in your employment experience.