Thursday, May 19, 2011

Working and Lupus

I know I've discussed this before, but the topic came to my mind again. I do kind of feel "over tired" from being at home all day for these last few months. I think I'm ready to venture back to work and start interacting with people besides Maury Povich and Victor Newman. I'm hoping that this feeling of "tiredness" is simply the feeling of "over tired-ness" and not perhaps symptoms of something else.

I've been working at my current place of employment since 2003 and have worked in the same position for that period of time as well. After having gone to school for Human Resources (I have a few courses left that need to be fulfilled before I can graduate), I'm pretty eager to get a position within my company in HR.

If I do that, that will mean a few things for me. In all of my years of working for this company, I do not ever recall seeing a position posted in HR that was a part time position. I wonder if my body is ready (or even able) to work a full time position. I do, however, have hardly any problems sitting at my computer for hours at a time...but then again, I'm usually (almost always) on my bed and in a very relaxed position. I don't think most places of employment have workstations or desks as comfortable as my bed, nor do I think they allow time for naps. Hehe.

At the same time, I've managed to work part time (20 hrs per week) while taking 6 courses(1 course = 3 hrs of class)...and managed to be very successful in all of my classes. I don't imagine working full time being much different...except for the fact that I won't have any homework (well, except for the homework that I'll have for the classes that I am yet to finish...and that's it!)...and I'll have weekends off!

But, before we even get into all of that...there is a very important matter to be considered. Even though I already work for the organization that I want to do HR in, I would obviously still need to be interviewed for the position. I would imagine (and hope) for privacy reasons, if I did get an interview and the HR rep spoke to my manager for references purposes, my manager would not disclose any of my health issues that she has become privy to over the past few years to the other manager. But assuming my manager does not disclose any information, how does one deal with whether or not to disclose the details of their chronic illness to whoever is interviewing them for the new job?

Well, I know here (Canada), legally, a manager cannot ask you any questions pertaining to your health during the interview process. The person with the chronic illness has no obligation to volunteer such information either...unless, of course, a certain degree of health is required as a bona fide occupational requirement However, eventually, it might be necessary to disclose such info. For me, I wonder if it would be a good idea to disclose such information prior to a job offer...perhaps, say, at a second or third interview. I think it might be wise to at least inform your new employer when a job offer has been given and papers are now being signed. This doesn't mean that you have to get all specific with them and provide them with your medical history, but you should advise them of any particular accommodations you might need and how the employer can support you during your employment.

I'm still a little nervous about the whole issue. I just don't want anything (like my health) to upset my chances of getting a position that I really want/like, nor do I want anything (like my health) to interfere with my career, period.

I wonder how other people deal with chronic illnesses and job interview/new jobs..

3 thought(s):

Anonymous said...

I'm in the US, but it sounds like the rules are basically the same. At my previous job, my HR manager actually advised me to NEVER share the details of my illness with my coworkers, supervisors or managers. She said that is between HR and the supervisor and/or manager...and that HR does not share the information, but basically says that you have a documented health condition that will require xx accommodations.

I didn't really follow that rule. I would NOT recommend bringing it up in a 2nd or 3rd interview though. I took my job and worked at it for a while to "prove" myself in a sense...and then I eventually told my supervisor. I got the paperwork to have FMLA (don't know if they have an equivalent in Canada -- it protects you from being fired for absences related to your illness) and once getting approved for FMLA, my HR manager was really in my court. I found that my supervisor was very supportive, but I knew she would be. I had a manager (actually two of them) that I chose NOT to share any details with because they did not strike me as compassionate individuals. I'd say use your best judgment -- some people are not meant to know these things and they will not understand, no matter how you present the info to them.

I try to not bring up info in a way that will freak out a supervisor and make them think that I can't or won't do the job I was hired to do. I really try not to talk about any illness stuff until they know that I'm a really hard worker first. I've found that they are so much more likely to support me through the difficult times if I give them a chance to know me beyond my illness first.

Good luck!
kit

Miz Flow said...

Awesome advice, Kit! That really helped and gave me some insight. I don't know that Canada has something equivalent to FMLA, but it is written in employment law that someone with a disability cannot be fired due to their disability.

I also agree about not sharing everything with everyone. Some people simply do not come across as caring or compassionate..and i will definitely take time to get to know who those people are before making a decision whether to (or not to) disclose anything to anyone.

xo!

Mary (practising trouble in D.C.) said...

Hi Miz - just saw this (have been dealing with my own issues :P). My recommendation: do not disclose ANYTHING, until you are already situated in the job and something comes up that necessitates you being away from the office for medical reasons (in which case you kind of have to say something to explain your absence, but even then, I would say the minimum). Even though you can't technically be not offered a job b/c of physical/medical/etc. illness, the tendency is that they will pass you over for someone else that is viewed as "more reliable." It sucks, but that's life, unfortunately. I know I was passed over for a promotion at my last job b/c they knew there was a *chance* I could be hospitalised again, even though I was the most qualified for it.

Also something I've learned from my working life: despite your efforts to explain what is going on with your health, some people cannot and will not accept it and will treat you differently. I actually got crap from a coworker when my boss allowed me to work from home for a couple hours of week to accommodate my need to rest. (Never mind that this coworker was in the pink of health and regularly went skiing, mountain climbing, etc. and did not need such an accommodation.) I think you will find that the longer you are with an organisation, you will be able to tell who are your friends that you can trust.

 
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