Workplace Accommodations for Endometriosis
Last updated: September 2020
When we think of workplace accommodations, we often think that this means special chairs, or adaptable keyboards, or ergonomic mice. In the context of endometriosis, these don’t help that much. So what are some of the workplace accommodations that can help endometriosis sufferers?
Why ask for workplace accommodation?
Workplace accommodations are really anything that could make your work easier when you’re suffering from endometriosis. By law, your employer must make reasonable accommodations to allow you to perform your work adequately. What this means for someone suffering with endometriosis depends on the person and on the job. Someone with a very physically demanding job is going to have different needs than someone with an office job.
Before asking for specific accommodations, make sure your manager understands endometriosis and how it impacts your daily life. Your manager will be much more willing to meet your needs when they know how endometriosis makes it difficult to do your job. By being open and honest, you will be more likely to get your manager’s support. Asking for workplace accommodations isn’t a sign of weakness. Neither is it an admission that you can’t pull your weight at work. Rather, it’s telling your boss that you want to minimize the impact endometriosis will have on your performance. It shows you’re taking responsibility and don’t use endometriosis as an excuse not to be able to meet deadlines or perform your work at the same standard as your colleagues.
Types of accommodation
So, what types of accommodation could you ask for? At the beginning of this article, I mentioned special chairs, mice or keyboards, but that won’t do us much good. Instead, it can be anything you need that may make life a bit more bearable, including, but not limited to, the following:
- A hot water bottle or a warm bean bag to put your belly or back and permission to use both.
- The ability to structure your own workday so you can concentrate on less demanding tasks when you’re in a brain fog due to medication.
- Being allowed to work from home if the pain is so bad you can’t walk. More frequent breaks to walk around or go to the washroom.
- Permission to wear loose-fitting clothing so they don’t cause you pain.
- The use of a chair or high stool if you have a job that requires you to stand for long periods of time.
This list is not exhaustive and won’t apply to every person with endometriosis. Before having a conversation with your manager, come up with your own list. What would make life easier for you when you’re dealing with a flare-up or a painful period? Maybe it’s to go for frequent walks, so you may ask if you can step away from your desk a bit more often.
The key point is that workplace accommodations are specific to each individual. Your employer may not be able to meet all your needs, however, the most important thing is to ask for what you need. If you don’t ask, your employer cannot help you. And in the end, both you and your boss will benefit from you being able to perform your job easier.
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