Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disorder that causes an excess of thick, sticky mucus to be produced in the respiratory and digestive systems. This mucus causes difficulty breathing, frequent lung infections, and problems digesting food. Cystic fibrosis is a serious health condition that shortens the life expectancy of those living with it. While there has been progress due to research, people with cystic fibrosis still have a life expectancy of around the late 30s/40s.

Cystic fibrosis is a disability as it affects people with the condition severely and on a daily basis. The condition greatly affects how those living with it are able to function and complete daily tasks.

Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis

Common symptoms that people with cystic fibrosis experience on a regular basis include:

  • A persistent cough
  • Wheezing and struggling to breathe
  • Damage to the airways
  • Frequent lung infections
  • Difficulty putting on weight
  • Jaundice
  • Bowel obstructions
  • Sinusitis
  • Constipation

Cystic fibrosis is not an easy condition to live with. Over 10,000 people in the U.K. are reported to live with the condition and they were a community that particularly struggled throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, many people with cystic fibrosis want to and are able to work. The condition doesn’t have to hold you back from doing what you want to do, it is all about managing things in the right and finding the right employer that will support you at work.

On this page, we want to provide information and guidance for both sides of the party involved in supporting cystic fibrosis at work. For employees with the condition, we want to talk about how you can best manage your condition at work with the support you need. And for employers, we want to guide you on how to provide this support appropriately.

Once everyone comes together, things can work very well in harmony. That is the vision we want for disabled people in employment here at Careers with Disabilities.

How Employees With Cystic Fibrosis Can Get the Support They Need

It is important to find the right kind of job as someone living with cystic fibrosis. Being in the wrong job can cause a lot of stress and difficulties that you don’t need on top of living with a difficult condition.

Making sure that you get the support you need at work is sometimes about making sure that you are working somewhere that will be willing and able to provide this support in the first place. This list should help.

A Checklist to Screen Jobs as Someone with Cystic Fibrosis

  • Can they offer remote work?
  • Can you work part-time or flexi-time?
  • Can you sit down during work?
  • Do they have a health insurance plan?
  • Is there a lift on the premises?
  • What is the policy on sick leave?
  • Are there health and safety policies and regulations including sanitation?
  • Is the employer Disability-Confident?

Working with cystic fibrosis requires the right conditions for work and it is important you get them. You are entitled to extra help and support at work too, so make sure that you disclose your disability to your employer after the hiring process and when you feel comfortable. This means that your requests are backed up by equality law and are able to be carried out as reasonable adjustments.

Finding the Right Employer

If you want to find the right kind of employer can that accommodate you and your condition, take a look at the company profiles listed on our site and also at our inclusive, disability-friendly job board. There you can find the right people to work with to make sure you are as happy and safe as possible in your work life.

If it seems as if you are being treated differently because of your cystic fibrosis, this is illegal discrimination. You can always talk to the Equality Advisory Support Service for advice and guidance. The Cystic Fibrosis Trust also have a helpline if you have specific queries or problems relating to your health condition.

How Employers Can Help

If you are an employer and you want to help create equal opportunities for people living with cystic fibrosis, you can sign up for the Disability Confident scheme for employers. This scheme can help you think differently about how you recruit and work with all kinds of disabilities. It can help you develop an inclusive workplace that is accessible to everyone.

Undergoing training and development is one of the best possible ways to work fairly with people with cystic fibrosis. Learning more about the condition and how it affects people will help you know what best provisions to put in place for those employees. Staying open to learning more about disability is a great way to pave the way for movement and positive change in employment.

After that, listening to what your employee needs is your next best step. Everyone who has the condition will want and need different things and there won’t be a one-fits-all model that works. Communicate openly and allow your wider workplace to become a safe space for communication and disclosure around disability. This will help everyone in the long run, significantly.

You can also sign up to create a company profile here at Careers with Disabilities and work on creating inclusive job postings that will allow people of all abilities to apply for your roles. Creating an open process that prevents exclusion will help to bring more disabled people into your company.