Talking… to your boss

It can be daunting to talk about an illness with someone you want to impress, like an employer. But opening up will allow you to explain things which might otherwise be misinterpreted, and get the support you need to feel happier, better understood and more productive at work. What employer wouldn’t want that?

Tim image 6

I had to explain to my new boss about my Crohn's when I had a flare-up and needed to visit the men’s room more often than normal. At first he didn’t know what Crohn’s was, but a short and honest conversation quickly set things straight. Although he never said it, I’m sure he thought I was wasting time in the toilets and so I felt a false sense of guilt for going. I am now much more relaxed in my work environment!

Tim, living with Crohn's Disease

I decided to discuss my flare up with my new boss. We’d never met before, so I felt it was right to be upfront. She was very supportive, and still is. The company I work for have done nothing but accommodate my needs and helped me to return to work.

Joanne (right) and her boss, living with Ulcerative Colitis
Becky may

I started a new job and decided to tell my whole team about my UC, it turned out one of the other girls on my team also had it! She was the first person I’d met who had the same disease as me and ended up being a great way of starting a tricky conversation.

Becky, living with Ulcerative Colitis

Talking tips

Employers have a duty to help you

Your employer is obliged to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to support you at work. These could be things like flexible working hours or frequent toilet breaks. This is a legal duty, though many employers are open to making reasonable adjustments, once you’ve discussed you needs.

Sometimes understanding is all you need

You may not need your employer to actually do anything. But just knowing that they know what you’re going through can be a real load off your mind, and stop you worrying about the conclusions they might leap to when your condition is affecting your attendance or behaviour.

Spread the word

Rather than you having the same difficult conversation over and over again, you could ask your employer to help you tell some or all of your colleagues about your condition.

Just having the conversation helps

These conversations aren’t always easy so the fact that you feel comfortable having one means your employer is already doing something right. Why not let them know you’re grateful? It’ll probably make them feel pretty good.

Useful information/links