Working with ChronicKidney Disease
Many people with chronic kidney disease(CKD) or kidney failure work full-time or part-time, go to school, or take care of their homesand families. Others do volunteer work, havehobbies or have regular exercise routines. Ifyou have CKD or kidney failure, you may havequestions about finding, keeping or changingjobs. This brochure was designed to answermany of your questions.
I was working before I got kidney dis-ease. Will I be able to go back to work?
Many people who start dialysis or have atransplant want to return to work quicklybecause work helps them feel that their liveshave gotten back to normal. Some people takea little time off to start dialysis, while otherstake a longer leave of absence to get used todialysis or to recover from surgery. You shouldtalk to your doctor about when you will beable to return to work.
I am not working now. Are thereresources to help me find a job?
Yes. There are many services available for jobseekers. Some of these services are privatecompanies, others are government agencies.They can help you decide what kind of jobyou would like and what you are qualified to
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do. They can also help you write a resumeand prepare for interviews. Remember that pri-vate companies will expect payment for theirservices. The following are some popular job-hunting resources:
the Help Wanted section of local newspapers
employment and temporary agencies
state client assistance programs
state or local employment agencies.
Your social worker can help you locate theseresources. Many National Kidney Foundationaffiliates have listings of local employmentagencies. Some government agencies mayeven help pay for training. Furthermore, if youfind work through a state or federal vocationalrehabilitation agency, your employer may be eligible to receive a tax credit for employing you.
If you are entering the job market for the firsttime you may find out that you need or wantsome more education. Most schools have guid-ance counselors and employment counselorswho can help you decide what your needs are,based on the career that you want to pursue.
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How can I prepare for job hunting?
Start by writing a rsum. This is a record of youreducation and your work history. It includes:
your name, address, email address andtelephone number(s)
a summary of your work experience (bothpaid and volunteer)
your educational history
any special skills you have that may helpyou qualify for a job
the names of two or three referencespeople you know who would recommendyou for a job
What should I expect at a job interview?
During a job interview, you will meet with anemployee of the company, often from the com-panys Human Resources department. They willtell you about the company and describe thejob, especially the jobs responsibilities. This isyour chance to talk to them about the skills youpossess that qualify you for the job. You shouldtalk about the things that you do well. Do notbe afraid to talk about skills you learned whiledoing volunteer work. Dont be afraid to askquestions about the company and the positionthat youre applying for. You will leave a posi-
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tive impression with potential employers if youshow them that you are interested in the compa-ny and want to learn about it.
Should I tell potential employersabout my illness and treatment?
If you do not think that your illness and treat-ment will interfere with your ability to do the jobthat you are applying for, you do not need tomention it during an interview. Many peoplewith CKD suggest that you only bring up yourillness when you receive a job offer.
What if I am working when I begin treatment?
People who are working when they are diag-nosed with CKD face a particular set of chal-lenges. Some people continue to work full-timewhen they begin treatment; others switch to apart-time or flexible schedule. Some people askfor less physically demanding jobs. You mayneed to work certain hours in order to go todialysis or you may need a clean, private areain which to do your peritoneal dialysisexchanges. You should feel free to talk to youremployer about changes to your job that mightmake it easier for you to work. Remember, youemployer probably wont know what changesyou might need if you dont ask for them.
Do not expect your employer to know muchabout kidney disease or how it may affect yourability to work. They might have concernsabout how much work you can do and howmuch time off you will need. They may also
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have concerns about how much your healthbenefits will cost the company. You may wantto ask your doctor or another member of yourhealth care team to speak with your employerabout some of these issues. A little informationabout your illness, abilities and limitations cando a lot to ease an employers concerns. Hereare a few of the topics you and your employermay want to discuss:
altering your work schedule to accommodate dialysis and doctor visits
making up time taken off for medical reasons
your physical limitations, if any
what to do in case of an emergency.
Employers may not know about tax credits theycan receive for making changes to the work-place. You may want to give your employer acopy of the National Kidney Foundationsbrochure About Chronic Kidney Disease: AGuide for Patients and their Families. You canalso refer them to the National KidneyFoundations Web site: www.kidney.org
Are there laws to protect me againstjob discrimination?
The Civil Rights Act, the Rehabilitation Act, andthe Americans with Disabilities Act all protectyou from job discrimination. Examples of dis-crimination include being firedor being turneddown for a job or a promotionbecause of anillness or condition that does not affect yourability to do your job. The Department of Laborhandles complaints filed under theRehabilitation Act.
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If you work for a company with 15 or moreemployees, the Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA) requires your employer to make anyreasonable accommodations that you mightneed in order to work. Examples include mak-ing parking lots, bathrooms and work areashandicapped accessible; having flexible workschedules; reassigning you to a less strenuousjob if you request one and one is available;and assigning any of your non-essential tasksto other employees, at your request. The EqualEmployment Opportunity Commission handlescomplaints under the ADA.
If you work at least 20 weeks of the year foran employer with 50 or more employees, youmay qualify for the Family and Medical LeaveAct (FMLA). The FMLA allows you to keep yourgroup health insurance, but you may have topay the full premium. Your employer can askfor medical certification stating that you have aserious illness, but cannot punish you for takingleave to have surgery or begin treatment andyou cannot be forced to return to light dutybefore your leave is over. In most cases youremployer must provide you with identicalresponsibilities to those you had prior to yourleave. Your spouse, children, or parents mayalso be eligible for FMLA leave if you needthem to provide you with care or transporta-tion. The Department of Labor handles com-plaints under the FMLA.
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Where can I get help if I believe Ihave been discriminated againstbecause of my kidney disease?
If you feel that you have a grievance with youremployer, the Equal Employment OpportunityCommission (EEOC) suggests that you first pur-sue it through the companys established chan-nels. Union members should take their com-plaints to their locals. Most towns and citieshave departments that help people who haveencountered discrimination in the workplace.The name of the department will vary depend-ing on where you live. It may be called theDepartment of Human Services, theDepartment of Health and Human Services, the Office for People with Disabilities, or some-thing similar.
On the state or federal level you can contactthe Human Rights Commission, the Departmentof Labor or the EEOC. You can find the phonenumbers for these agencies in the telephonebooks blue pages. Your social worker or yourNational Kidney Foundation affiliate may alsobe able to help you.
Will I have to take a physical exam?
The ADA states that your employer may not askyou to take a physical exam until after a joboffer has been made and only if all the appli-cants for that job are required to take a physi-cal exam. If the job offer is rescinded after youhave taken the exam, the company must showthat you cannot perform the essential functionsof the job. It should be noted, however, thatyou can be asked to take a drug test.
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Am I entitled to company healthinsurance?
If the company offers health insurance to all ofits employees who work the same number ofhours that you work, than you must be offeredthe same coverage. Read the policy carefullyto see if it covers treatment for kidney disease.If the policy requires a waiting period foremployees with existing health conditions, therecould be a delay in your coverage. However,if you had health insurance less than 63 daysprior to receiving new coverage, you mayhave met all or part of the waiting period. Askyour old health plan to provide you with aCertificate of Credible Coverage that you cangive to your new health plans administrator.Your states insurance commissioners office cantell you more about the laws that apply togroup