Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive disease which affects parts of the brain. The disease can present in various ways which a range of symptoms and this goes through stages as the disease progresses.

The most common symptoms of the disease include:

  • Tremors in the body
  • Slow movement
  • Stiff and inflexible muscles

It is estimated that about 1 in 500 people live with Parkinson’s Disease. There is currently no cure however there is a range of treatments that can help improve quality of life. These can include medication, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and surgery.

As the disease is progressive, people with the disease will deteriorate over time even with treatment. Many people with the disease are considered severely disabled with the condition. Others are considered mildly to moderately disabled. Regardless, Parkinson’s Disease is a recognised disability and should be treated as such in all areas of life, including employment and recruitment.

On this page of our Disability Advice Hub, we want to discuss how employees can get the support that they need at work when they have Parkinson’s disease. We also want to talk about how employers can actively support these employees too. It is important that both sides of the coin are considered. When we all work together, everything is better.

Let’s talk about how employers can help first of all.

How Employers Can Help Employees with Parkinson’s Disease

Being an employer is really all about your staff and employees. Without them, there is no company or business at all. It is important that the well-being, safety and happiness of your employees are at the top of your agenda as an employer in 2022 and beyond.

This is particularly the case for disabled employees. Disabled employees need to proactively be given the right working environment and the right kind of support within that environment. To do any less is discriminatory behaviour and this is treated very seriously here in the U.K. One of the first things you should do as an employer is to familiarise yourself with the Equality Act of 2010 so that you can know the ins and outs of workplace discrimination. This knowledge will help you know how to respond to certain situations more appropriately and how to construct your workplace in a safe, inclusive, and diverse way.

A major aspect of equality law is reasonable adjustments. When an employee is disabled in any way, they will need certain modifications to be made by you as their employer. In order to do their job to the same level of efficiency and safety as their other colleagues, disabled employees will need extra support. What that support looks like will vary greatly by employee.

For employees with Parkinson’s Disease, some reasonable adjustments that might be applicable include:

  • Remote working opportunities
  • Paid taxis to and from work
  • A lightening of work duties and responsibilities
  • Flexibility of working
  • Time off to see the doctor or to rest
  • Change in protocol around sickness-related absences
  • A change to the work desk/seating arrangement for comfort and accessibility
  • Provision of an accessible bathroom

And more. The best reasonable adjustments for your employee will be the ones they ask for. To ensure they can do this, try and build an accepting, open working environment where employees feel comfortable asking for support.

Becoming a Disability-Friendly employer is an incredible thing to do for yourself and others. If you want to learn more about it, check out this page of our site.

Then you can take a look at the services we offer employers to help them widen their Disability-Friendly capabilities.

We want to help you support others in the best ways possible.

Getting the Right Support as an Employee with Parkinson’s Disease

As a disabled employee, you are entitled to the support you need at work. As we have discussed in the section above, there are lots of reasonable adjustments your employer can help you with to make work that bit easier.

If you feel that you are not able to talk to your manager about your disability, you can ask someone you trust to go with you. If you are part of a union, you can also ask a trade union representative to come with you to meetings about your disability/employment. Having someone there with you can help the disclosure go much more smoothly. Try and get any agreement about adjustments in writing so that you have them to hand should you need them as proof later down the line.

If you, unfortunately, feel that you are being discriminated against because of your disability, know that this is illegal in the U.K. and there is a lot you can do about it. No discrimination should be swept under the carpet or ignored. When faced with a dilemma in this kind of situation, you can follow these steps:

  1. Talk to someone above your position in work first and foremost. A line manager or HR rep is a great choice if available. It is always best to discuss these things in-house first and allow a chance for mediation.
  2. Contact Citizen’s Advice for their employment-related advice. They can help you with your rights and extra resources.
  3. Contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service if you find you are in need of more support or guidance. They have experts ready to talk to you about what is going on and what your next steps should be.
  4. Contact a solicitor if things have escalated to a legal matter. If no resolution can be found from mediation or talking to the EASS, you might need to consider legal action. Contacting a solicitor early on will help you know what you need to do to gather evidence and present a case.
  5. Look after your mental health. If discrimination unfortunately occurs, you will need to self-care by tending to your mental health. These situations can be incredibly stressful and you might need extra support. In this case, you can talk to your GP, a private counsellor, or a crisis helpline, including the Samaritans on 116 123)

Ultimately, if you are unhappy at work and your disability is not being supported, you may wish to look for a new job. You deserve to work somewhere that has your best interest at heart and this is certainly possible. Finding a Disability-Friendly employer can make the world of difference to an employee with Parkinson’s Disease.

If you have Parkinson’s Disease and you want to find the right job for you, check out our live disabled job board on Careers with Disabilities. This board is filled with equal, diverse and inclusive jobs that are perfect for someone living with a disability.

Go where you are respected and treated with dignity. Anything else isn’t enough.