British Liver Trust
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Work getting suspicious. Time to come clean about my cirrhosis?

My attendance for work is terrible as some days I have no energy and call in sick. The past 3 days I've spent in bed sleeping. Work know I'm under supervision of a specialist but if I don't tell them I have chronic liver disease I will lose my job. I'm worried about staff finding out and thinking I'm some raging alcoholic when I've been sober 5 years. They think I'm taking advantage & being lazy when it's out of my control. How much do I have to tell my employer? I'm going to say the liver disease is caused by damage from an illness a few years ago. I don't want them knowing it's alcohol related.

9 Replies

By having a disease of an organ i.e. cirrhosis you would fall under the protection of the Disability Discrimination Act - it's a long term health condition which has major impact on your daily living. If you were still an active addict that isn't seen as a disability but cirrhosis is.

ACAS guidance on the Disability Discrimination Act is at:-

It might be worth having a glance through or discussing with ACAS before you come clean to employers. They do not need to know that your cirrhosis was due to alcohol usage - you have a long term health issue which has led to cirrhosis of the liver. As we well know it is caused by a whole host of different factors.

Included in the guidance is the confidentiality aspect, none of your discussion with employer should be shared with other staff and infact it would also be covered by the act.

Definitely worth having a working knowledge of the basis of the Equality Act , Disability Discrimination Act before going in to deal with employers or HR department etc.

It might be that work can figure in some reasonable adjustment to hours or whatever suits you. I know my hubby could never hold down a job the way he is with limited night time sleep, chronic fatigue, muddled brain function etc. We've just come back from supermarket shopping and he has had to go to bed. He used to be a Welder in heavy engineering.

Wishing you the best of luck, Katie


Hi Katie

Do you know how this would work with me? I have cirrhosis & cancer of the liver and am on the transplant list.

Would I come under the disability act or not?



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Huw, you automatically come under the protection of the Equality Act 2010 from the day you are diagnosed with cancer. Check out the .gov page on the Equality Act and disability at :-




My understanding of the law is this; You would be considered as having a disability within the meaning of the Discrimination Act. Alcoholism is specifically excluded from the act - however, a resulting dianosed liver disease comes within the meaning of a 'disabilty'. This is the actual example used to explain the act on the Government website. "It is the disability and not the cause that should be considered.

This means you should be protected under the law regardless of how long you have been with your employer.

I am NOT qualified in the law, so you must check this for yourself.

Hope this helps.



I kept my work informed and they have been brilliant, don't go quoting chapter and verse unless they start crossing boundaries. I worked reduced hours which really helped, and I'm currently off recovering from transplant and am able to help when I'm ready working from home with some other projects for the company, I know I'm lucky but there are some good companies out there. You shouldn't need to explain why you have your condition, companies invest massively in staff they are a companies biggest asset, the cost to a business of hiring replacements is massive and in most situations counter productive, unless you flip burgers!


I agree with the posts above.

Ask to speak to your employer in private and explain that you have cirrhosis and this is how it affects you.

Don't quote laws to them unless they refuse to take your condition into account, then hand them a list of applicable discrimination laws and regulations. Say that perhaps they are unaware of the laws as they would not use them often.

Most of all don't worry about there being any repercussions for giving the information in confidence to your employer.

Rita x


In my post I detailed the legislation but not so that acjb700 could go in quoting it but so that he knew there was protection available - knowledge is power and with a wee bit of knowledge on the protection he could have this in his back pocket (so to speak) if meetings with his employer didn't go well.


Join a Trade Union! They are there to protect working people and they have legal departments.


Although I'm a little late in contributing, I would like to ask if you also have any other associated conditions that could also cause your tiredness. When I had my cirrhosis and my liver was beginning to fail, I contracted type 2 diabetes. this can cause tiredness. I was also suffering from depression and on medication, which in turn causes you to feel drowsy. So there are free reasons there that can cause you to feel drained.

Just be careful, we all like think we know best in some cases. It would be so wrong to think, Oh I wonder if its anaemia, I'd better take some iron tablets. There is more iron in a damage liver than a healthy one. Too much iron can and will damage the liver, so a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.


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