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I Have Endometriosis, How Can I Talk to my Boss?

by drseckin.com | Posted on March 2, 2021

I Have Endometriosis, How Can I Talk to my Boss?

Research has shown that endometriosis symptoms can significantly affect a patients’ work life, with increasing symptom severity being associated with lower workability [1,2]. Another study showed that women with endometriosis-related symptoms were less likely to be employed than women without symptoms [3].

You may feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, or even terrified when you need to talk about your condition with your boss, especially if it is a male boss. The underlying reason may be that menstruation is still considered taboo and a topic that people feel ashamed to discuss.

Effects of endometriosis on work-life

Endometriosis-associated pain that may occur anytime, frequent medical appointments, or increased stress levels can affect your ability to work effectively and safely, coordinate with work colleagues, or maintain full-time work.

Thus, you need to convey your condition to your employer and make them realize that you require appropriate support to manage your symptoms while working so that you can continue your job.

Patient concerns

Privacy

Endometriosis and Privacy Policy

Since endometriosis is a very personal condition, you may be concerned about data privacy and the sharing of your health information. You may, therefore, be hesitant to communicate with your boss. However, you can ask your boss not to share your health information with other internal and external parties.

Fear of losing your job

In every country, there are unions or employment fair acts that protect employees from being dismissed due to having a chronic illness or being absent temporarily from work. The employer cannot simply decide to terminate your employment. They are required to make sufficient work adjustments (depending on the type of work and the workplace) so that they can carry out your role effectively.

DiscriminationDiscrimination

Discrimination

It is unlawful to discriminate against or harass an employee due to disability [4]. Employment unions, fair acts, anti-discrimination laws, and company policies protect you from unlawful discrimination so that you cannot be demoted or disadvantaged simply due to your health condition.

When to talk?

You don’t need to disclose your medical condition unless it affects your ability to fulfill the inherent requirements of the job or makes the workplace unsafe for you or others (for example, increased risk of serious accidents due to pain, fatigue, or reduced attention in organizations where manual work is involved).

If your condition affects your work capacity, it is preferable to communicate early enough and not delay the much-needed talk.

Whom to talk to?

To avoid misunderstandings or confusion with regard to your condition, it is better to speak in person with your employer. If you are not comfortable talking to your employer, you may talk with someone else in a managerial position or contact the union outside the company.

How to talk?

Be comfortable and do not feel embarrassed or ashamed to tell your boss about your condition. Try to talk about endometriosis just like any other disease and convey that your condition affects your work-life genuinely. It can be helpful to prepare a communication plan beforehand where you lay out the information to be shared and the work-related adjustments that you may need in order to fulfill the job requirements.  

Gather as much information as possible

Since there is a lack of awareness about endometriosis, it is important to research the facts and find a way to explain endometriosis that is easy to understand. You can find resources on the internet about how employers can help workers manage their symptoms [5]. To make the conversation easier, you should try to gather the right information about the employer’s expectations and your own rights in the workplace to avoid any form of discrimination.

Help your boss understand endometriosis

Help your boss understand endometriosis by providing brochures, reputable website links, and other sources of information. The Endometriosis Foundation of America has a wealth of information on its website [6]. Explain how your condition affects your ability to work to your full potential. Prepare to answer any queries that your boss may have.

The support needed

Be prepared about what kind of help you need from your employer so that they can try to explore potential solutions such as flexible working hours, reduction in workload when the condition is bad, such as adjustments to the work environment (adequate access to toilets or restrooms for example), work from home when needed, a higher number of off-days, alternative ways of working, or changing duties.

References

  1. The Effect of Endometriosis Symptoms on Absenteeism and Presenteeism in the Workplace and at Home, Pubmed.gov, Ahmed M Soliman, Karin S Coyne, Katharine S Gries, Jane Castelli-Haley, Michael C Snabes, Eric S Surrey
  2. The influence of endometriosis-related symptoms on work life and work ability: a study of Danish endometriosis patients in employment, Pubmed.gov, Karina E Hansen, Ulrik S Kesmodel, Einar B Baldursson, Rikke Schultz, Axel Forman
  3. Preliminary insights on the relation between endometriosis, pelvic pain, and employment, Pubmed.gov, Federica Facchin, Laura Buggio, Federica Ottolini, Giussy Barbara, Emanuela Saita, Paolo Vercellini
  4. Disability Discrimination, EEOC.gov
  5. An employer’s guide to managing endometriosis at work, Endometriosis UK
  6. Endometriosis Foundation of America

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Our office is located on 872 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10065.
You may call us at (646) 960-3080 or have your case reviewed by clicking here.

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