Should I tell my employer that I have back pain?
Let's look at some different scenarios and which category you best fit into:
1. You hurt your back at work
If you have hurt your back at work then in most countries employers are obligated to have insurance to cover your medical, rehabilitation expenses and cover your income in the absence of work. Lower back injuries are extremely common, many heal naturally over time. Insurance and the law is in place to protect you so in this case we do recommend that you tell your employer that you have hurt your back at work.
2. You have long suffered from intermittent back pain in before you started with your current employer
Obviously the type of work you do will depend on your course of action. If you work in an office, the concern for you having a less than perfect back will be much less than if your job requires manual labour. If you are in an office we do recommend that you tell your employer, so you can work together on a plan to best assist or manage your back pain. Combining a standing and seated desk is one such solution, however simple things like taking regular breaks from your desk to get up and walk around can help limit the buildup of accumulated lower back tension.
If your work involves manual labour, then the decision to tell your employer will be more to your discretion. If you have a solid relationship with your direct report and managers and you are comfortable that you can stay on top of and manage your back pain then telling your employer will do no harm.
3. You are fearful that if you tell your employer that you have back pain, then you will lose your job.
In most countries there are laws to protect against unfair dismissal. Having said that even in first world countries such as Australia, large corporations can put a lot of pressure on individuals in an environment where productivity and profits rein. Everyone’s circumstances are different, some workers can leave, many cannot or feel they cannot due to the pressures of a mortgage and providing for their family. For people who do fall into this category we hope that you read the relevant articles on this site on a permanent solution to your back pain. One of the great fears for people who have no choice but to put up with the pain is that they are doing further damage to their spine/ back and the fear that it will be permanent. We want to reassure you that your body has a brilliant way of protecting itself from irreversible damage and responds extremely well to the right form of rehabilitation no matter how many days, months, years you have been suffering.
So for people stuck in this predicament, fearful that they will lose their jobs due to back pain, by all means explore other employment opportunities that will be easier on your back/ body. More importantly learn about why you have your back pain, and more importantly what you can do to strengthen your body so the pain never returns. We hope our website helps you in this quest.