Employers must do more to support MS sufferers

Providing support for workers with multiple sclerosis would significantly reduce an annual welfare bill of £66.7 million as well as prevent people from missing out on an average of 18 years of their working lives, the workplace thinktank The Work Foundation has argued.

A report, Ready to work? Meeting the employment and career aspirations of people with multiple sclerosis, has argued that greater employer awareness and more coordinated action could mean that the majority of people with multiple sclerosis who were willing and able to work could be supported to do so.

Lead author Stephen Bevan said: “The UK is not doing enough to support people with multiple sclerosis to stay in work. At present, 44% of people with multiple sclerosis retire early – many more than the European average of 35%.

“Employees may not ask for assistance at work due to fear of discrimination and potential job loss, all the more so during difficult economic times – and such fears may not be unfounded. To get support, it is important for employees with multiple sclerosis to inform their employers early on; however, this self-advocacy must be met with a good understanding of the disease, particularly its unseen symptoms and fluctuating nature,” he added.

In a separate move, in July The Work Foundation published research on what makes a “good” workplace. Good work and our times includes information on how absence and a lack of employee well­being can be a measure of wider organisational wellbeing.

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