Wednesday, 25 October, 2000, 15:00 GMT
People with multiple sclerosis (MS) are being advised to continue working
when they develop the condition.
The MS Society has called on people with the disease to discuss any problems they may have with their employers to help them to keep their jobs.
MS affects 85,000 people in the UK and usually develops between the ages of 20 and 40.
The MS Society has drawn up guidelines for employers and employees to help sufferers to stay in work when they develop the disease.
The symptoms of MS include fatigue, incontinence and pain. However, MS is a fluctuating disease and the symptoms may pass and not resurface for years.
The MS Society believes that simple changes in the workplace could help many sufferers to continue in employment and enjoy a normal working life.
Jude Roberts from the MS Society said developing the condition should not mean that people have to give up their jobs.
"Often we find that employers and employees think that when someone has been diagnosed with MS it is the end of their working life.
"In reality it is not. Working in partnership they can overcome the problems."
She said small changes in the workplace can help sufferers to continue in employment.
"Quite small changes can have a big impact. These include moving a desk so that it is nearer the toilet, making sure the car parking space is near to the entrance.
"These things involve very little change and do not have huge financial implications for employers."
The guidelines aim to remind employees with MS of their rights under the law.
It offers sufferers advice on working more flexible hours, changing their job responsibilities or even changing career.
The guidelines urge employers to discuss the condition with employees with MS.
They urge businesses to "think creatively" to try and introduce small changes to make it easier for sufferers to continue to work.
They also encourage employers to seek help and advice if necessary.
The guidelines, which are available from the MS Society, were drawn
up by a panel of employers, government representatives, and patients.