Of course, the first thing that needs to be stated is that there shouldn’t be any discrimination against people who have long-term illnesses or disabilities – including mental health issues.
But there is, and so it makes disclosing such a job application feel like a huge deal. There are a few reasons where disclosure can make a difference in how you enjoy your time with a company.
What does the workplace consider a disability?
A disability in the workplace is defined as either a mental or a physical impairment that might limit or impact areas of your life. It may affect your ability to stand for long hours, perform some manual tasks, or require allowances for arriving late, not coming in on difficult days, or hospital appointments.
Disability includes, but is not limited to:
Arthritis, missing or non-functioning limbs, deafness or hearing issues, ADHD, asthma, HIV, depression, diabetes, cancer, lupus, MS, and more.
Up to 15% of the global population has some form of disability, and it is up to the employers to make sure that they are equipped, where possible, to be inclusive.
It is essential to consider the impact on hearing and career prospects, the time allowed off for depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, and if the company you apply for has accessible offices for wheelchair access.
Why do some people not disclose their disability?
There is a stigma attached to people who have a disability – and many companies still assume that they are less able to do the job. When the illness is invisible, managers and co-workers can be a little less accommodating.
Specifically, with invisible illnesses, most people don’t want to be treated differently, so they choose not to disclose.
It could be that after some discussion with a career coach or a recruitment professional, they decide that it doesn’t need to be disclosed since they can manage their illness.
There are a lot of reasons, and ultimately it is a personal decision.
Do you need accommodations?
If you have an illness that can cause pain flares or wipe out all of your energy, it is good to discuss this with your potential employer. Not only do they need to make sure they have the suitable provisions, but you need to ensure that you have them too.
If the job requires standing for long periods, then ensuring reasonable breaks or the possibility of having a chair to use is essential.
Chrons and other stomach and bowel issues might require you to have more and easier access to the bathroom. If that is the case, then it can be easier to be upfront and be located where you need to be – and with the ability to head to the bathroom as often as you need.
While you aren’t under any obligation to disclose a disability if it is found later that it impacts the work you produce, you cannot perform the essential functions; some employers will choose to take disciplinary action.
Being honest is the best way to get an employer and a role that matches your needs without fighting for it later.
Are you looking for more support, then read this: Learning How To Cope With A Life-Changing Injury Or Illness