Even if your company is sympathetic to your situation, they may in the end determine that they are unable to accommodate your disability. If this is the case, they would be obliged to meet the applicable conditions of your collective agreement (if you have one) as well as the Employment Standards Act, Human Rights Code, Workerplace Insurance Act and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act. You should also avail yourself of all employee benefits for which you are eligible.
You’re not obliged to tell your co-workers you have dementia. You may be concerned about how people will treat you once they know. It’s a valid concern.
However, if you don’t tell your co-workers, they may draw their own conclusions about why your behaviour or job performance is “off.” They may think it’s because of substance abuse, lack of motivation or some other reason.
In order to minimize the chance for these types of misunderstandings, you may decide to tell your co-workers about your diagnosis. You should probably let your boss know before you do so. Your employer may be able to help address any concerns your co-workers have about how their jobs will be affected as a result of changes made to your job responsibilities.
Before telling your co-workers:
- Make sure you understand as much about the disease as you can. Your physician or the Alzheimer Society should be able to help.
- The Alzheimer Society will also be able to point you to myth-busting information about dementia that you can pass on to your co-workers. Your employer may want invite someone from the Alzheimer Society to make a presentation to your colleagues at work.
- Be prepared to discuss not only how the disease is causing you trouble, but also what you are still capable of.
Despite your best efforts, some of your co-workers may treat you differently after you tell them you have dementia. This may be beyond your control. However, if it becomes an obstruction to you doing your job, your employer or the Alzheimer Society may be able to help.