A supportive workplace for people with arthritis in an environment that allows flexible working hours, and adjusted job demands, provides accessibility and includes the presence of supportive co-workers and employers can help to reduce withdrawal from the labour force by people with arthritis. Here are some answers to common questions about working with arthritis:
Should I tell my employer that I have arthritis?
Yes, only if it could cause health and safety problems in the workplace and/or if it could prevent you from suitably performing the responsibilities and duties of the job.
Is it reasonable for my workplace to accommodate my arthritis?
There are exceptions in the Human Rights Act to an employer’s duty to accommodate an employee with a disability. Your employer may treat you differently on account of your arthritis if you can only perform the duties of your position satisfactorily with the aid of special services or facilities, and it would not be reasonable to expect your employer to provide those services or facilities. Some other exceptions apply. Every case is different, and your situation will be considered on its own facts and merits.
Can I leave the workplace for doctor’s appointments for my arthritis?
You may use sick leave to attend medical appointments concerning chronic arthritis. All employees in New Zealand are entitled to 10 days of sick leave per year after they’ve worked for six months for one employer. Remember to check the terms of your employment agreement because it may provide more than this. Once you have used up all your sick leave and annual leave, your employer is not obliged to provide further leave for medical appointments. However, they are obliged to be reasonable and act fairly towards you. The more information you provide your employer about your medical situation, the more likely they are to be understanding and allow you the flexibility to leave the workplace. If you have ongoing and recurrent medical appointments, you might consider approaching your employer about flexible working arrangements.
This article was first published in Joint Support magazine, May 2022 issue. If you would like to receive a digital copy of Joint Support magazine, sign up below.