MS 'needlessly' cuts careers short
Providing support for workers with multiple sclerosis (MS) would significantly reduce the annual welfare bill and prevent people from missing out on an average of 18 years of their working lives, according to a new report from The Work Foundation. 'Ready to work: Meeting the employment and career aspirations of people with multiple sclerosis' concludes that with greater employer awareness and more co-ordinated action, the majority of people with MS who are willing and able to work could be supported to do so. Lead author Stephen Bevan said: 'The UK is not doing enough to support people with MS to stay in work. At present, 44 per cent of people with MS retire early - many more than the European average of 35 per cent.' He added: 'Employees may not ask for assistance at work due to fear of discrimination and potential job loss, all the more so during difficult economic times - and such fears may not be unfounded. To get support, it is important for employees with MS to inform their employers early on; however, this self-advocacy must be met with a good understanding of the disease, particularly its unseen symptoms and fluctuating nature.' The report notes ability to work may be affected by physical symptoms such as fatigue and difficulties with writing, balance or walking, combined with cognitive symptoms affecting memory or concentration. It adds that because many symptoms can be invisible and can worsen or improve rapidly, MS can be a difficult condition for employers to understand.
Issued: 24 June, 2011