Equal treatment of patients in education and the workplace

Picture: Role play of the EPF Youth Group on discrimination in job interviews, EMPATHY Seminar, 2013 ©EPF

People with chronic and long term conditions face a variety of obstacles, including stigma and discrimination, at school or at work. These issues can potentially affect a large share of the population in the EU given that 1 in 4 people of working age (15 to 64) lives with long-standing health problems that restrict their daily activities.

Young patients report often that they face many obstacles at school because of their disease, directly or not. Issues arise from inflexible, unaccommodating rules and mind-sets when the patient is frequently absent, need adaptation to their timetables or specific conditions to take an exam. Young patients have highlighted that structural discriminations and stigma can affect their academic success, their professional orientation, and their future ability to obtain a job and income.

The workplace is also a key area where patients can face stigma and discrimination. It can simply result of a lack of awareness of the challenges of combining the management of a chronic condition with work. Patients can already face discrimination at interview stage, or when returning from  sick leave or even in obtaining promotion or trainings[1].

Many patients can begin or continue to work with adequate support and measures to ensure reasonable accommodation of their needs. Unfortunately adapted systems and appropriate policies are not always in place to allow patients with chronic diseases to remain in the workplace under acceptable conditions. And when they are in place, they are often under used.

Current EU initiatives - the European Parliament is currently discussing a draft own initiative report on the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work for 2014-2020 and the European Commission published a strategy – do not make specific recommendations towards promoting rights of patients with chronic and long term conditions at work and supporting both employees and employers in providing reasonable accommodations to patients when needed.

EPF has published a response to the 2013 consultation on occupational health and safety, and we’re currently consulting our members on discrimination in education and at work to produce a position statement by end of 2015.

We believe the EU has a role to play in promoting the equal treatment of patients in education and at the workplace, to collect and ensure transfer of good practices in this area, and to promote dialogue between stakeholders across policy areas” concludes Laurène Souchet, EPF Policy Officer.

Contact person:  Laurène Souchet, EPF Policy Officer (laurene.souchet@eu-patient.eu)

[1] http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/observatories/eurwork/comparative-information/employment-opportunities-for-people-with-chronic-diseases