One of the effects of Sickle Cell Anaemia that is often overlooked is the effect it can have on the pursuit of a career.
The need for frequent hospital visits, for check-ups to maintain optimum health can, at least, be scheduled by employers in advance to contain any disruption in the Company’s productivity.
Employers are usually accommodating and supportive but the truth is that in today’s world of short-term contracts and tenuous employer/employee loyalty, companies are much more adept at finding reasons to declare an employee “unsuitable for the post to which they applied”.
This is a very subjective statement and almost impossible to prove discrimination based on the codes of practice detailed in the Disability Discrimination Act that prohibits dismissal based on the grounds of an employee’s disability.
Attractive incentives are offered by governments to encourage employers to recruit from particular areas of the workforce in order to provide a balanced perspective that highlights a person’s abilities rather than their disabilities.
All well and good. However, for someone with Sickle Cell Anaemia, the rogue factor of having an invisible disability that makes its appearance randomly, is not that easily accommodated by managers who do not prepare sufficiently for the Sickle Cell employee’s absences.
Consequently, the employee’s capabilities are questioned, they are made to feel guilty for the extra “burden” they place on their colleagues for covering their absence which leads to a greater level of tension, stress and ultimately more absence due to ill health, and so the cycle continues.
In an ideal world, managers would be able to plan ahead to cover for any eventuality but they are not infallible and will, some would say, logically look for an easy solution – the removal of the perceived burden on the company’s productivity by any means possible, that is, the “unfit for purpose” line.
Rather than stating the employee’s ill health though, reasons for dismissal suggest incompetence, a lack of proficiency, ability, capability and a whole list of similies that do nothing for an already deflated ego.
There is nothing worse than the feeling that you are limited by something you have absolutely no power over, that your physical being is conspiring against you to prevent you from living the life you want to live.
In periods of good health, you are able to live life as you want to but the pschological effect of the crisis episodes that suddenly strip you of the ability to provide yourself with the basic requirements of food and personal hygiene, takes its toll – even on the most cheerful of people.
The frustration is immense.
As most self-help theories advocate, the trick is to keep bouncing back. if nothing else, persistence and bouncing back are qualities that are extremely well developed in the mind-set of some one with Sickle Cell Anaemia – a rare quality that should appeal to the discerning manager or employer – in an ideal world.