Fibromyalgia is a difficult diagnosis for anyone, but it can be particularly difficult to juggle with the requirements of work, whether full or part time, no matter the role. Here are some tips for employers to support employees with Fibromyalgia:
-Have a frank discussion with the employee about how they think their work will be affected, what supports could help them to continue their work, and what changes they can make to meet employer expectations.
-If possible, offer flexible hours or part-time work. Fibromyalgia symptoms can vary throughout the day, so starting later, or earlier, depending on the individual may significantly help the employee maintain both their work output and their health.
-If possible, offer working from home. If work is able to be completed from home, via phone or internet, this can be a much more suitable option for employees with Fibromyalgia, whether permanently or only for part of their hours. This generally allows for greater comfort, and less travel, which can be particularly taxing on people with Fibromyalgia.
-Increase break time or allow more frequent breaks. Frequent breaks for stretching or for food may help Fibromyalgic employees work more effectively and with less impact on their work and their health.
-Conduct a work space assessment to ensure that the employee’s workspace is well set up, particularly with computers, desks, and chairs at appropriate heights. Ergonomic equipment may also help manage Fibromyalgia symptoms that can be common in desk-jobs and computer-based work.
-Be understanding of sick days. Fibromyalgics may experience “flares” which can be an aggravation of their symptoms for any or no reason at all. This can include excessive fatigue or body pain which make mobility difficult. Fibromyalgics may not necessarily need to or be able to visit a doctor in these conditions, so having an understanding with your employee that overrides the need for medical certificates in some circumstances may alleviate some stresses from calling in sick.