Working While on Treatment

Review the issues that need consideration when making the decision to work during treatment here .

Can I Work While On Treatment?

Since side effects are different for each person, it’s hard to say how much your Hepatitis C treatment will affect your work schedule.  Some people keep a regular schedule while others lessen their hours or stop working altogether.  Here are some work-related issues to think about before beginning treatment:

  • If your job has predictable cycles of being busier or slower during certain times of the year, ask your doctor if you can begin treatment at a less busy time of year.
  • You can ask your employer about the possibility of reducing the number of hours you work for a period of time.
  • If drug therapy becomes too much to handle while working, you can consider going on short-term medical disability leave.
  • Speak to someone in Human Resources to learn about your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Depending on your particular situation, the ADA may apply.
  • You should not be stopped from going to your workplace because you have Hepatitis C.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for the prevention and control of Hepatitis C, people should not be excluded from work, school, childcare or other settings.

If you do plan on working while on treatment, one of the major issues you’ll have to consider is when, or if, to disclose your Hepatitis C status.  Disclosing your Hepatitis C status at work should be a carefully thought out process that includes weighing all the pros and cons.  Some questions to consider when making this decision are:

  • What type of reaction will you get from your supervisor and the company’s administration?
  • Will it affect your chances for a promotion?
  • How will it affect your relationships with co-workers?
  • Is it necessary to disclose at this point in time?
  • When and with whom should you disclose?

It’s a good idea to discuss the possible benefits and drawbacks of disclosing to your employer with support group members who have had this experience.  In addition, you should become familiar with your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), as well as your local human rights laws.  Familiarize yourself with your company’s time and leave policies, as well as short and long-term disability plan requirements.

The issue of disclosure becomes more pressing if you’re experiencing side effects that require a change in job responsibilities, a flexible work schedule or other accommodations.  If you decide to disclose, make sure to have accurate, easy-to-understand information on hand when telling someone about your diagnosis.  People often have little knowledge or misconceptions about Hepatitis C and starting the conversation with facts can help put them at ease.

If you have disclosed your Hepatitis C status and feel that reasonable accommodations are not being made, or that you are being discriminated against, you may begin a grievance process.  For information and advice about your rights and protections under the ADA, you can speak with someone by calling 1-800-949-4232.

Ultimately, the decision to disclose your Hepatitis C status is a personal one and must be based on your personal circumstances.  Everyone’s situation is unique and there is no simple or right answer.  It comes down to what is right for you.