If you are living with episodic disability1 and are working or considering applying for a job, you may be unsure if you should tell people in your workplace about your health status. This decision guide will give you information about episodic disability disclosure in the workplace and your rights and responsibilities.
This decision guide is for you if you are:
- Living with episodic disability; and
- Working or hoping to work, either paid or volunteer; and/or
- Wondering whether or not to share your health status with your co-workers or your employer
Note: the decision on whether to disclose or not is a personal decision and is not mandatory for most jobs.
1Episodic disabilities (or illnesses) are chronic conditions characterized by periods of wellness and illness that may vary in severity, length, and predictability from one person to another. By “episodic” we refer to fluctuating, or sometimes unpredictable periods, degrees and severity of illness and function. This is a working term and definition, and we recognize that other terms (e.g., recurrent, cyclical, non-static) are also used and may be appropriate in different contexts. Examples include multiple sclerosis, arthritis, diabetes, HIV, hepatitis C, chronic pain, some forms of cancer and mental illness.
COVID-19 and Workplace Disclosure
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted most people’s working lives and/or their efforts to find and retain employment. Changes in ways of working (e.g., added health risks, physical requirements, increased stress in the workplace and/or the different needs of working from home) have increased people’s level of uncertainty and in some cases have led people to re-evaluate the supports they need to do their jobs.
For people living with HIV or living with episodic disability (including those living with ongoing health conditions related to COVID-19 infection itself) the question whether or not to disclose your status can take on new importance and urgency. The Workplace Disclosure Decision Guide will help you think through that decision more clearly.