Approaching Your Employer About Your Migraine

If you suffer from migraines, then you already know how debilitating they can be. It’s difficult enough to manage the severe pain migraines cause, let alone while at work. Having to talk to your employer about migraine and potential accommodations you may need is uncomfortable, but important.

Being open and honest about your condition, what you’re capable of while enduring a migraine and how you intend to cover lost work hours leaves both parties more content, confident and forgiving when tensions get high. So, let’s discuss How to Approach Your Boss About Migraines; how to prepare, what to expect and ultimately, how to continue a professional, compassionate relationship with your boss.

Don’t Be Ashamed

First and foremost, leave your shame at home. Migraines aren’t anything to feel embarrassed or ashamed of; they’re not your fault, nor do they compromise you as a person. You’re still able to contribute as much as any other staff member, only requiring some accommodations to do so.

Preparation is Key

Especially if you’re anxious about the conversation, noting down the points you wish to discuss can make a meeting go much smoother. Plus, your notes can be admitted as a written record of the conversation. If you can, make a copy of your notes and keep them at home for reference too.

Have Clear Goals in Mind

Make sure you know what you want to discuss and plan these things out beforehand, so you’re not left feeling like the meeting was wasted, or an issue was forgotten. Examples of useful topics to discuss with your boss include:

  • Implementing accommodations that you ask for, or that have been recommended by your doctor
  • Changes to working hours or weekly allotments and a need to discuss your contract
  • Information from your employer regarding sick days, doctors notes and any paperwork they require

Your Boss Is Not a Specialist

Much like family and friends when you first got a diagnosis, your boss likely has little idea what migraines entail. Particularly in large workforces and offices, it can be hard for a manager to be up to date on every illness their staff possess and how to manage them, but you can help them by providing information, personal experience or directing them to appropriate sources.

Make sure to dispel the misconceptions with these Truths:

  • Migraines are a recognized, diagnosed neurological disease, not self-diagnosed
  • Migraine pain is physical not psychological. It is incurable and overwhelming
  • Some migraine attacks are unmanageable, and medication efficacy varies between each episode, making them unpredictable and debilitating
  • Migraine is not just a bad headache

Bring All Your Paperwork

Evidence can be added to your file, which will protect you from things like unlawful dismissal because you couldn’t control symptoms or had to miss work. It also adds credence to your claims, especially if your doctor or specialist can provide documented referral letters that clearly express your diagnosis and the ramifications it causes.

Discuss Any Accommodations You Need

Before attending the meeting, do your own research; you’ll likely already have developed ways to manage migraines at work, but there are plenty of resources online that can be accessed for free that recommend coping strategies and most relevantly, beneficial accommodations  that can be requested. Have these suggestions written down and offer them in the same meeting, as it shows proactive problem solving and a willingness to work past the problem.

Stick to Your Word

Getting the necessary accommodations and assurances is one thing, but sticking to your word in regard to lost time is another. Empty promises and unfinished projects can lead to disciplinaries, warnings or even a dismissal, based on failure to deliver the required work in time. Discuss how you plan to combat lost work hours with your boss, present suggestions such as remote working on bad days or weekend make-up hours and honor the decisions you make together.


Ashley Halsey

Ashley Halsey, a professional writer at Lucky Assignments and Gum Essays, has been involved in many projects throughout the country. A mother of two children, she enjoys spending her free time traveling, reading and attending business training courses.


From the Editor:

Some additional reading:

WOMEN WITH MIGRAINES: ADDRESSING DISCRIMINATION IN THE WORKPLACE

LIVING WITH MIGRAINE AND HEALTHCARE ANXIETY

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