By: AJ Chambers | 22 April, 2024

Supporting employees with a disability: MS Awareness Week

Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week runs from 22 to 28 April 2024. It’s the perfect time for us to raise awareness and speak up about the realities of working with a disability and how employers can help.

Let’s start with some UK statistics:

  • About 20% of adults in Britain are disabled in some way.
  • Most people are diagnosed with MS, or any other disability, at an age when they’re likely to still be in work.
  • As of 2023, there were 5.53 million working-age disabled people in employment.
  • Only 50% of disabled adults are in paid employment.

A wide range of health conditions or impairments qualify a person as disabled, including loss of hearing, a broken leg, autoimmune fatigue, the need for regular medical treatment such as dialysis or chemotherapy, neurodivergence or having a mental illness.

Indeed, most of us will experience some period of disability in our lives due to accident, sport injuries, illness or aging.

In too many workplaces today, disabled people feel forced to pretend they are not disabled even when they’re struggling. They fear they won’t be hired or will be treated differently by their supervisor or colleagues. So, how can companies increase their attraction to anyone with a disability?

Employers need to do better and design their processes for disabled people first, not last. This needs to be true for all employers, large and small, regardless of prestige.

The government should strengthen the monitoring of employment discrimination and increase regulatory action on companies that fail to adhere to the law already in place. However, Access to Work is a government-funded service that offers financial support to pay for any extra support or equipment you need as a result of your disability in order to be able to do your job.

You may be worried about how your employer will react when you tell them about your disability. Research has found that people who tell their employer are more likely to remain employed, and stay in work for longer, than those who don’t.

Employee living with MS, employed by a London firm

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune condition. It’s most commonly diagnosed in people in their 20s, 30s and 40s although it can develop at any age. It’s about two to three times more common in women than men. MS is one of the most common causes of disability in younger adults.


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