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Working with Fibromyalgia – What Are My Rights?

Chronic pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia can often make working very difficult. Whether you are expected to be on your feet all day or are tied to a desk, musculoskeletal pain and fatigue, as well as the impact that fibromyalgia can have on cognitive abilities, can have a huge bearing on a ‘normal’ working life. However, with prescribed medication as well as pain management which can help control daily stress, many people with fibromyalgia can continue to work.

The Government recognizes fibromyalgia and other chronic fatigue syndromes as real and potentially disabling conditions. It is important and helpful to be open with your employer about your fibromyalgia diagnosis. Employers must make reasonable adjustments to make sure workers with disabilities are not substantially disadvantaged when doing their jobs.

It is normal for people newly diagnosed with fibromyalgia to want to ‘hide’ any disabilities at first, however, employers need to be aware of your condition so that they can make any relevant modifications to your workplace that will allow you to continue working.

What adjustments should my workplace make to help with my fibromyalgia diagnosis?

Some things to discuss with your employer to enable you to manage your fibromyalgia diagnosis include:

  • Flexi working and home working – to avoid rush hour and so that you can take time off if you are feeling fatigued and make up for it at another point
  • Facilities within the workplace to take a quiet nap at lunchtime
  • Managing workload in order to minimize stress and combat flare-ups
  • Ergonomic tools and furniture
  • Provision of written job instructions and memory aids functions of concentration and memory are impaired.
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Talking to colleagues and your employer about fibromyalgia will also give them an understanding and appreciation of your good and bad days. It may also help to make you feel less alone.

In addition to employers providing added help and support in the workplace, individuals with fibromyalgia also often require time off work to attend medical appointments which can cause them a loss of earnings.

While some individuals who suffer from fibromyalgia can continue to work, for many others, unfortunately, the condition is debilitating, often forcing them to either quit their job or reduce their working hours. Whilst this is undoubtedly an undesirable situation, a successful fibromyalgia claim will provide compensation for any financial losses experience as a result of the condition, such as loss of earnings.

Therefore, to help financially, whether one is able to work or not, a sufferer of fibromyalgia may be entitled to a range of welfare benefits such as Attendance Allowance (AA), Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

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