Telling your boss you have RA

Hi everyone. In new to his having just being diagnosed with RA recently after feeling like my boy is aged 20 years in the last 2 years!

I recently told my manager that I have been diagnosed with RA to which he said they will have to assess whether my I am suitable for my current role (which I started 3 years ago before all my health problems started).

Anyone else ever experienced this?

10 Replies

  • Find out the laws of your country for people with disabilities. If you belong to a union, then have a shop steward come with you. Some bosses just want to get rid of people with disabilities. It is up to you to make sure he/she followes the rules of your country's laws.

    All the best to you


  • Yes! Get union representation to support you and have them present at any meetings. Reply to things via email as they are a legal document. So even if your manager says something in 'passing' about hours, job etc then say that you will get back to them about the matter and then put in a polite formal response that contains the original info.... I.e. 'I am emailing to say thank you for your suggestion of looking more formally at my role in light of my RA diagnosis and ask that you please give me 3 possible dates/times you can make so I can invite my representative to join me at the meeting. Send the email with a visible CC to your union rep so that your employer is fully aware of your existing support - my original boss wasn't too thrilled with the idea of me returning to work but every correspondence was emailed replied and CC to union rep so she had to be more cooperative that she would have clearlyliked.... fortunately the rest of the leadership were much more compassionate and understand plus the boss has moved on!

    Good luck


  • Oh, P.S. Print off the emails and forward them (plus any replies) to a separate email address if possible. Always forward replies to your union rep with a just to keep you informed note if you do not need them to act/respond to the email

  • There is some good advice on the NRAS site, a booklet for you about working and one for employers. Get all the information you can, keep a record of everything and try to get everything in writing, even it's a printed out email (lots of employers don't realise emails are evidence!).

    If someone wants to have a "word", say it's not very convenient right now and ask to have a date and time set aside for this, then at least take the union rep or if that can't be done, ask to record the meeting.

  • Have you thought about whether or not you think you'll be able to continue working with RA? Are there any compromises that can be made to keep you working? For example, I am able to telework, so I don't need to worry about morning joint stiffness or fatigue. I'm not sure if I can interpret the tone of your post properly, but is it possible that he wants to better understand what you're going through? I have found that being straight forward about the disease and what I can and can't do has really helped, though I know it's a personal decision. Good luck to you.

  • I dont know if you are aware of this, but if you are employed in the US RA is listed under the ADA. Americans with Disability Act. Thing is employers know this, so they will try to find a way to fire you so that they don't have to make any, "specific accommodations."

    Be wary about sharing your medical condition(s) with anyone work related.

  • RA is covered by disability discrimination laws so you have some protection. Also this means grants are available to your employer to make suitable adjustments to keep you in work. As a starting point I would give your manager a copy of this

    You may also find this useful

    NRAS have lots of useful/interesting publications definitely worth a browse.

    I can also recomend calling the helpline on 0800 298 7650.

    Hope some of this helps.

  • I've been on both sides of the coin. Hourly employee and Salary General Store Manager. Employers are well aware of the ADA and all it encompasses. They don't give a rats behind about the grants/tax breaks they can get for keeping you on. I can promise you that if you reveal your medical status you will be terminated for some other reason. (ie) excessive tardy, uniform incomplete, just because you forgot your name tag, excessive breaks, while you were puking in the toilet cause you were sick ect the list goes on and on. I as a General Manager was told directly by my District Manager to NOT hire people who appeared sickly, took too much meds or generally looked like they might fall under ADA. I was also told to document these said employees until I had enough paper on them to properly fire them. In a fair world the ADA is suppose to protect us. I've been there, on both sides. Revealing ANY health condition to your employer is risky. Most of them will just find a way to terminate you rather than take the money for," specific accommodations."

  • Thanks everyone for the replies, I'm in the UK and have forwarded the information PDF for employers about employees with RA when I was first diagnosed.

    I'm in the very early stages of diagnosis and it's not under control yet. The difficulty is my old manager knew what a hard worker I am and that I was good at my job. My new manager started six months ago at possibly the worst time. My sickness record was great up until this year and it's just been a year where it's been one thing after another! I've had shoulder surgery, and now finally the RA diagnosis which explains all my pain. I've always powered through, my old boss was very understanding and let me work from home the rare time I couldn't sit at a desk because my hips and back were too sore.

    Today I asked my new boss if I could work from home - it's been a bad few weeks but as usual I've powered through! Today however; I am in agony! I made it clear that it wasn't a case I am too poorly to work, just not fit to drive to work and sit at a desk. At least at home I can use heat packs etc on the painful areas while still working.

    But he told me to call in sick! So now, today combined with the time I was off after shoulder surgery has brought me over the annual target and I will go on a formal review for absence :-(

    On another note it's been a terrible year for stress at work! I had a team member have regular aggressive outbursts and on one occasion he became violent. I've still had to manage him after this and many times asked for help or relocation from my boss & HR. All through this I was being advised by friends and colleagues who saw me to go off sick with stress because they could see effect the situation was having on me.

    I never did though!!! which makes it suck even more that my boss is not being supportive and advising me take sickness absence rather than allowing me to work from home one day.

    RA sucks!

  • Reading through the messages above, I find that I am a very very lucky person on earth. When I was diagnosed with RA, I was very very sick and not really able to move around. I could not even lift up my hands and so on. My colleagues helped me around to take files and things for me to just work on. My employer bought me a pair of arthritics socks to keep my feet warm.

    Just like other RA patients, I took a lot of leaves for my appointments and physiotherapy sessions at the first one year. But I never had to worry about being terminated during those days and I was/am very thankful to the people around me.

    My employer wanted to put me to ground floor but I insisted to continue to work at 3rd floor just because I needed to exercise more. It always took me a very long time to walk up to the 3rd floor very very slowly. My direct superior knew that I could not eat solid food, she brought me soft porridge or cereal for lunch everyday for many months. That indeed solved my problem of going out for lunch.

    I have been working in the company for more than 10 years. During this period, I hardly took any sick leave because I was a very healthy person. I also worked very hard to cover many areas of work including areas outside my scopes.

    From this experience, I do know that my employers do indeed appreciate the effort that I put in all these years when I was a very healthy staff. Though I recover very well now, but I still have to go for my hospital appointment once every 3 months and go for the blood test once every 2 1/2 months. All these indeed disturb my work. What I do is to work longer hours everyday to ensure that I do not short change the company.

    I find that when I told the people around that I was/am a RA patient, I get a lot of help around.

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