Research has shown that endometriosis symptoms can significantly affect a patients’ work-life, with increasing symptom severity affecting workability. Another study showed that women with endometriosis-related symptoms were less likely to be employed than women without symptoms.
You may feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, or even terrified when you need to talk about your condition with your boss. This may be worse if it is a male boss. The underlying reason may be that menstruation is still 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 about endometriosis and work-life
Endometriosis is a very personal condition. So, 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 dismissal due to having a chronic illness or being absent temporarily from work. The employer cannot simply decide to terminate your employment. They must make sufficient work adjustments (depending on the type of work and the workplace) so that you can carry out your role effectively.
It is unlawful to discriminate against or harass an employee due to disability. Employment unions, fair acts, anti-discrimination laws, and company policies protect you from unlawful discrimination.
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, this may include a higher risk of serious accidents due to pain, fatigue, or low attention in organizations involving manual work.
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. Here, you lay out the information you will share and the work-related adjustments that you may need in order to fulfill the job requirements.
Gather as much information as possible
There is a lack of awareness about endometriosis. So, 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. 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. 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
Think about what kind of help you need from your employer so that they can try to explore potential solutions. These could include 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 necessary, a higher number of off-days, alternative ways of working, or changing duties.