Work and cystic fibrosis

People with cystic fibrosis are living longer and healthier lives than ever before and for the first time, there are more adults than ever before joining the workforce.

Cystic Fibrosis Queensland believes that you should be able to live the life you want to live, including your choice of career, but there are some important considerations to take into account when you’re looking for employment.

As far as possible, cystic fibrosis should not be allowed to limit your choices of employment. Reasonable adjustments could be made to enable you to undertake the many roles in the workplace. When you are researching and applying for jobs, do think about what the role is likely to entail and what, if any, adjustments might be needed. 

The following questions might help in reviewing your options:

  1. Are there any obvious health and safety issues, for example infection risks or other direct risks to your health?
  2. Is the working environment suitable for you and your symptoms?
  3. Is there a canteen, staff fridge, suitable bathroom or perhaps even an equipped first aid room?
  4. Is the building itself accessible? For example, is there a lift you can use?
  5. Are there flexible working arrangements such as home working, flexible hours or even the possibility of having annual leave in hours rather than full days?
  6. Does the organisation have public liability insurance, workplace agreements etc.
  7. Do you have personal insurance? If you become too ill to work, health insurance may provide you with an income.

Having cystic fibrosis does not necessarily mean you won’t qualify; it depends on the company. 

Also think about:

  1. Does the company have a disability policy?
  2. What is the sick leave allowance? Would it be possible for you to have extra (perhaps unpaid) days off if required?
  3. When should you tell an employer you have cystic fibrosis?

The appropriate stage for an employer to ask health questions will often be after a job offer is made, but before you start employment. Talk to your employer about cystic fibrosis and the support that you may need.

Cystic Fibrosis Queensland is also able to speak with your employer and to run education sessions for staff and your direct team.

It is best to be straightforward (though consider seeking specialist advice if you think questions are inappropriate or unnecessary). If you are not asked about your health, the information you decide to volunteer is a very individual choice, as is identifying the right time to negotiate adjustments.

For more information about employment and the workplace, visit our Work and Cystic Fibrosis Factsheet.