An international survey conducted by MSIF (www.msif.org) has found that many employers are slow to implement the low-cost changes to their work environments that would enable people with multiple sclerosis (MS) to stay in work longer.

To mark World MS Day 2011 (25 May), MSIF surveyed employers worldwide about work-based policies that could enable people with MS and other chronic fluctuating conditions to stay in work. The results are released in a report entitled: Multiple sclerosis at work: an employer’s perspective.

A global survey of people with MS in 2009-2010 found that of people who had left work because of MS, 47% had left within three years of diagnosis. It also found that flexible working hours and a place to rest were important adaptations that would have enabled them to stay in work.

However, in this year’s follow-up survey of companies, nearly 50% of those surveyed said flexible working was not available in their workplaces. In addition, 70% of survey respondents indicated that they had no quiet place where people with MS, who frequently suffer from fatigue, could rest before resuming their duties. Less than half of the respondents said that their office or place of work was wheelchair accessible.

To coincide with World MS Day, MSIF is calling on all employers to pledge to make at least one significant change by the end of 2011 that would enable people with MS and other disabilities to stay in employment.

Peer Baneke, the CEO of MSIF said, “People with MS or other disabilities have the right to work. Those rights are outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and backed up by legislation in many countries. Our appeal to companies and governments is to make those rights real. Flexi-time, rest facilities and some adjustments to the workplace can go a long way to keeping people with MS in work longer.”

Download the survey results