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Will having Parkinson’s Disease affect my employment?

Can I still work if I have Parkinson’s Disease?


Everyone experiences Parkinson’s differently, your ability to work to depend on the:

  • Severity and type of symptoms

  • The requirements of the job

  • The amount of support your employer can offer you

Majority of people continue to work after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Although some are unable to continue their line of work as it may entice a dangerous work environment. For example, the symptoms of Parkinson’s such as, tremors, stiffness, fatigue and slow movement, may make it hazardous of operate heavy machinery.


Those who want to continue work can have the option to shift their skills to a different area or even change their career entirely.


Despite this, with the right support and access to help, many workplace challenges can be overcome and allow someone living with Parkinson’s to continue working.


Should you tell your employer you have Parkinson’s Disease?


Legally, there is no obligation to disclose one’s diagnosis to their employer as it is a personal matter, unless there is an Occupational Health and Safety issue or if the symptoms affect the main tasks of your job.


Each situation is different and it’s important to consider how, when or even if you should tell your employer.

For some people their current symptoms do not interfere with their work so they choose to keep their diagnosis to themselves. Other people choose to disclose it to their employer, especially if it’s affecting work quality. This can be both positive for the individual and employer as it may explain visible problems, reduce stress on the individual about hiding their symptoms, and can allow the employer understand and possible decline in work quality and thus help make workplace adjustments for them.


The Fair Work Act 2009 outline that Australian employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to create a safe and efficient working environment. Furthermore, your employer may be eligible for government funding to provide workplace modifications at no extra cost.


How can PD symptoms affect work?


The ways in which PD affects someone’s work varies from person to person, common ways include:

  • Fatigue can make it difficult to keep up with the full-time work demands

  • Handwriting can become less legible, possible leading to communication issues.

  • Slowed movements can impact the ability to keep up with a fast paced work environment. 

  • Speech changes can also affect communication

  • Mobility difficulties can inhibit their ability to perform physical tasks


Workplace Accommodations for Parkinson’s Disease


These are some adjustments workplaces can make to accommodate to someone with PD:

  • Flexible work schedule – for example, taking meetings at from your desk rather than in person if mobility is difficult.

  • Reduce hours – to help manage fatigue levels

  • Adjusting duties – removing tasks that are physically demanding or require fine motor skills

  • Improving accessibility – for example, parking closer to the building, handrails, and automatic doors.

  • Working from home – reduces accessibility issues and assists in fatigue management

  • Assistive technologies – e.g. speech recognition software.

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