There are a few things employers should know about young onset Parkinson’s.

A diagnosis of Parkinson’s does not mean the person with Parkinson’s is no longer of value to the employer. Don’t assume what is going on with the person with Parkinson’s, speak to them and get the facts. It’s a good opportunity for employers to better understand how they can become more “disability friendly”. There may be a requirement to make some adjustments to work practices to assist the person with Parkinson’s to continue to work. There are services available to assist the work place with modifying workplaces and any equipment required. People with young onset Parkinson’s need to work for as long as they can.

Everyone’s Parkinson’s is different. If the work place has difficulties in assisting the person with Parkinson’s to continue working due to specialised requirements, remember that this is a big event in the person with Parkinson’s life, and respect, understanding and support will help them greatly. I am working and I have been working since 2010 with symptoms dx 2015 and still working full time in a Govt Job. I have liaised with my work on several occasions, making them do stories about Parkinson’s and my journey.

I have had nothing but support from my employer. The most debilitating issues with regards to my work capacity are fatigue/lack of sleep, muscle stiffness/rigidity, standing and walking and sitting for long periods. I find early afternoon the hardest at times. Reduced hours and working from home are strategies that support me to stay in the workforce longer. I purchased leave and now take every Friday off when I am not travelling for work and I negotiated to work from home one day a week. My work has a flexible working policy so this wasn’t a difficult process. I disclosed straight away but I knew I could, I can’t say that is the situation for others. I did not seek advice about my rights as an employee. More awareness on a general level to employers in general and the development of disability strategies for employers would be a good initiative.