29 June 2021

Living with immunodeficiency can put you at higher risk in the workplace, but that doesn't mean you can't have a fulfilling and meaningful job.

In this guide to finding jobs for people with immunodeficiency, you will find information about:

  • Primary immunodeficiency disorders and secondary immunodeficiency disorders
  • Living and working with a weakened immune system
  • Searching for suitable jobs
  • Accessing workplace accommodations
  • Where to get help if you need it

What is immunodeficiency?

Immunodeficiency disorders affect the body's ability to fight infections and diseases.

People with immunodeficiency have a weakened immune system, making them more susceptible to viruses and infections which are more severe and last longer than in the general population.

Immunodeficiency disorders are classified as primary or secondary immunodeficiency;

  • Primary immunodeficiency is when someone is born with the condition. There are over 300 known types of primary immunodeficiency.
  • Secondary immunodeficiency is when someone acquires the condition throughout their life. Anything that leads to a weakened immune system can result in secondary immunodeficiency, including underlying medical conditions like HIV infection and some types of cancer.

Immunodeficiency disorders affect people in different ways. Depending on the type and severity of the condition, it may or may not limit the types of activities a person can do.

Living and working with immunodeficiency

For many people living with immune deficiency, working plays an important role in their life. In addition to having more financial freedom, working can give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Everyone's experience with immunodeficiency and employment is different. A person with a weakened immune system may experience a range of challenges relating to work and in the workplace.

For example, a person with primary or secondary immunodeficiency disorder might:

  • Need to avoid crowded spaces which can put them at higher risk, especially during winter or the flu season.
  • Have a high risk of severe illness if others in the workplace are sick.
  • Be unable to operate heavy machinery due to medication.
  • Find it difficult to get out of bed and manage energy levels on some days.
  • Experience symptoms which make it difficult to work such as frequent headaches, nausea, fatigue and muscle pain.
  • Be put at higher risk if their schedule is too busy or stressful.
  • Feel misunderstood at work if people do not know about or understand their condition.
  • Experience discrimination or be overlooked by employers when applying for jobs.

What are the best jobs for people with immunodeficiency?

There is no one set of jobs for people with immunodeficiency. Just like everyone else, there will be some job types which are more suitable than others and searching for work is a highly individual process.

When brainstorming which jobs would be a good fit for you, consider the following factors:

  • Workplace environment – What types of environments are safest for you and what types will put you at higher risk? For example, crowded indoor environments or high stress environments may lead to an increased risk.
  • Flexible schedule – Having a flexible schedule may help you better manage symptoms, energy levels and unexpected changes in your health.
  • Work from home – Some jobs may allow you to work from home for part or all of the working week. This may help you better manage your environment and health.
  • Workplace accommodations – Consider if there are changes in the workplace or job role that you might be able to make to help you succeed in the workplace. Your employer is legally required to make reasonable adjustments to help you do your job well.

Speaking with an employment consultant from APM may help you discover amazing employment opportunities.

If you aren't sure what types of jobs for people with immunodeficiency would be right for you, an employment consultant from APM can help open up employment opportunities you may not have thought of.

An employment consultant can help you think through your skills, strengths and different career paths that might be a good fit for you.

They can also help you access further training if you need, write persuasive resumes and job applications, and prepare for job interviews.

Get in touch with APM today to see what's possible.

Succeeding in the workplace

With the right support, many people who are living with an immunodeficiency disorder have fulfilling and successful careers.

Here are some tips for succeeding at work:

  • Keep up with treatment and appointments
  • Managing stress levels
  • Take breaks as necessary
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Maintain physical activity according to medical advice
  • Consider disclosing your condition to your employer

For some people, disclosing to their employer can help them feel more understood and may help them access the workplace support they need.

Workplace modifications may help you to cope with the day-to-day demands of your job.

Workplace modifications are changes in the workplace environment or your job role which help you perform well and feel confident in your job.

Examples of workplace modifications include:

  • Flexible work schedule to attend medical appointments and manage health
  • Ergonomic equipment to help manage fatigue and muscle pain
  • Working remotely for part or all of the work week
  • Redesigning the workspace for more effective social distancing
  • Education and training for other employees in the workplace
  • Scheduled break times to help manage stress levels

If you are finding it hard to cope at work, APM can help you access workplace support that's right for you.

Living with immunodeficiency disorder and looking for work? APM is here for you.

As Australia's largest provider of Disability Employment Services, APM specialises in finding jobs for people with disabilities and providing ongoing workplace support.

If you're living with immunodeficiency and finding it hard to get a job or cope in your current role, you could be eligible for Disability Employment Services.

Disability Employment Services is a government funded program which helps people living with a medical condition or disability to find employment and feel confident in the workplace.

Register for Disability Employment Services with APM today and let's get to work.

For media enquiries, please contact

adrian.bradley@apm.net.au

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