In this section
Finding a job can be tricky, especially if it’s your first job. If you are planning to work and have a chronic health condition/disability, there are some helpful things to know about such as knowing your rights as an employee and how to best manage your health at work. Your job should never compromise your health and this booklet will provide you with some handy tips to find a job and be a happy and healthy member of the workforce.
Looking for a job can be an overwhelming experience and with so many different careers on offer it can be confusing to know what is right for you. Once you have some thoughts about what you would like to do, discuss this with your doctor or healthcare team as there might be some considerations specific to your health condition/disability that you may not be aware of.
A great place to start is MyFuture, which is a website that provides general information about different career paths, even if you have no idea where to start. The website includes a career profile tool, information on education and training, as well as resources to help you become job ready.
Youth Central website
This is a great website for young people who are starting in the workforce. It has a number of great resources to help you, such as finding a job, applying for one and job interview tips.
If you’ve never had a job, writing a resume can be a bit daunting. This document will show your past achievements, perhaps in the context of you managing your health condition/disability. You can ask a referee to explain to your employer how you have successfully managed your medical condition alongside other tasks.
Here are some important things you could include in your resume:
A good cover letter to accompany your resume should include:
Being prepared can make the world of difference to you securing the job that you want. If you have been successful with your job application and contacted for an interview, the next step is to impress your prospective employer. The interview gives you an opportunity to show how much you know and why you are the best person for the job.
Here is how you can prepare for your interview:
1. Find out as much as you can about the organisation you’re applying for. Look up information through their website or written information about the organisation. You may even know people who have worked for the organisation so it’s often worth chatting to these contacts too. This shows that you’ve taken the initiative to do your research and proves your genuine interest in working with them.
2. Understand the role you are applying for. Find out what the role
and responsibilities of this position are. A good way to do this is to read and make sure you understand the position description which is often posted in job advertisements, using the organisation’s website,
asking other or former employees or calling them directly to ask.
3. Anticipate the questions you may be asked and practise your responses to them. Write these down as dot points and don’t be afraid to bring this into the interview if you need to. Questions which are usually asked in interviews include:
To demonstrate your genuine interest in the role, prepare questions for the interviewer/s too. You could ask questions related to information you read about the organisation on their website, specific questions related to the role you are applying for or ask for an indication of when they will make a decision about the successful applicant.
4. Provide all the documents and forms as requested. You may
be asked to bring along some essential documents or forms to
your interview. This demonstrates you are organised and keen.
Some documents they ask for may be:
5. Pick out what you’re going to wear and how you want to present yourself. Think about what to wear to an interview as first impressions are important. Neat, smart business wear is appropriate but this could depend on what type of job you’re applying for.
6. Practise, practise, practise! Running through an interview situation at home beforehand can help you feel more comfortable and relaxed when you’re doing the real thing.
7. Work out how to get there and how long it will take you.
Don’t be late. Get there at least 10–15 minutes early. Be calm and relaxed. If you’re prepared, then you’ll be ready for anything.
More great resources are available at Youth Central: www.youthcentral.vic.gov.au/jobs-careers/job-interviews
Telling your employer about your health condition/disability can be difficult but it could help to create a supportive environment in your workplace and develop a mutual understanding between you and your employer. Let’s take a look at telling your employer from a simple who, what, when and how approach.
In some cases, your manager may be the only person who needs to be informed about your health requirements and/or limitations. In larger companies, you may need to inform someone from human resources. The best way to find out who you need to tell is to ask your manager. Employers legally have to know about your health condition/disability, mainly for occupational health and safety reasons. Any information you tell your employer about your health has to be kept private and confidential unless you express otherwise.
You do not need to disclose your health information to others if you don’t want to. However, choosing to inform your colleagues about your condition/disability could have its benefits as they may be more understanding.
When to tell your employer about your health condition/disability may vary depending on the risks associated with your health. If your employer asks you a direct question about it, you have to be honest. It may be useful to write a short script as a practice run. Telling an employer before or during an interview is a good idea if it will realistically impact your ability to perform that role. Otherwise, it may be helpful for your employer to know what kind of worker and personal attributes you have before you bring it up. It all will depend on the type of job you’re applying for, how your condition/disability will affect it and if you are directly asked about it.
You don’t have to go into great detail about your health but you should provide them with a basic understanding of your condition/disability and how it might affect your ability to work. The more your employer understands, the easier it’s going to be if you need any extra support
at work. At the same time, an under-informed employer can draw conclusions that may be inaccurate.
An employer may ask for a ‘Fit to Work’ letter from your doctor. This letter may outline your health condition or it could just provide a medical opinion that says you are fit to work. In this letter the doctor should include any restrictions you may have or it could provide recommendations such as regular rest of food/drink breaks.
When preparing what to tell your employer about your health
condition/disability, here are some areas that they should know about:
Be realistic about your choice of employment and what may or may not
be suitable for you, given your health condition/disability. Consider the impact of your health condition/disability on your employment and general lifestyle. You aren’t expected to work beyond your health limitations just because you have entered the workforce. Talking to your doctor about how your health condition/disability can affect your ability to work may be useful before looking for a job as he/she may have some good advice on how to best manage your healthcare needs in your chosen role.
Employers have a responsibility to accommodate, if possible, an employee with a health condition/disability. As an employee, it is your legal right to access extra support in a workplace. Extra support can range from extra breaks to movement aids. Do raise this with your employer because if they aren’t aware there’s a problem, they can’t fix it.
If you aren’t able to complete the work required even with extra supports in place then an employer has the legal right to hire someone else over you. If you’re confused as to whether or not you’ve been discriminated against or if you would like to lodge a complaint, you can do so via the Federal Human Rights website: www.humanrights.gov.au
Explain to your employer what steps need to be taken if you are affected by your health condition/disability whilst at work. If you are organised and explain the plan to your employer, it helps to ensure your safety at work in an emergency. It may be worth writing down what to do in an emergency situation and giving a copy to your employer for them to keep.
Every worker has equal employment rights in Australia, however the laws may vary slightly between each state. You have the right to work in a safe, respectful and healthy environment regardless of your health condition or employee status. It’s good to know what rights you have as an employee and how they may apply to your situation. Here are a couple
of websites which outline your rights, along with your role and responsibilities as an employee:
Fair work Australia also has some great information about pay rates,
rights and entitlements as an employee on their website:
Living with a chronic health condition can be a juggling act but it’s important to know your limitations and to put your health first, even in the workplace. Whilst you may not want to be treated differently from other employees, there may be times when you need to voice your concerns, particularly if you’re feeling unwell. Remember that it is your employer’s legal responsibility to look after their employees under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
It is reasonable for your employer to expect the same of you as with any other employee, unless your health condition/disability prevents you from carrying out any aspects of your role. You will be required to work in a respectful way with your co-workers ensuring that you don’t endanger the health and safety of others. However, if you are injured or unwell,
you have a responsibility to inform your employer within 30 days.
Federal and Victorian law protects you as an employee against discrimination or harassment on the basis of gender, disability, religion, race, colour, age or marital status. You can’t be denied employment based on your health condition/disability unless it impacts on your ability
to perform that job. It may be hard to work out if you’re being unfairly discriminated against in the workplace but there is more information available at:
Before you start your first job it is important to organise a Tax File Number. A TFN is a unique number given to you by the Australian Tax Office that
is used to identify your tax records. Everyone has a different TFN.
To get yourself a TFN all you have to do is visit the ATO website
www.ato.gov.au/ and follow the links.
When you do start working, it’s just as important to keep up with
your personal life alongside working. This is often referred to as
‘work life balance’. Those who are happiest and more productive at work, are people who can work hard whilst also making sure they enjoy a social life away from work. Consider how your social life may affect your work, e.g. going out the night before an early start at work isn’t going to impress anyone especially if you turn up late as it would look unprofessional
and inappropriate. You may make some really good friends within
your workplace but do maintain professionalism whilst working
with your colleagues.
With the growing accessibility and availability of the internet and social media sites, such as Facebook and Instagram, do consider what you
put online for potential employment opportunities and for your safety.
Once you put something online it’s out there for everyone to see.
Some companies check these social media sites and use the internet to learn more about you. If a potential employer was to see
inappropriate or reckless behaviour on your profile, this could
damage your job prospects with them.
There are other services and supports available to young people with chronic health conditions and disabilities who are looking for employment. Try The Royal Children’s Hospital Transition website for links and services. Make sure to check out the ‘Are You Ready? A Guide for Young People with a Chronic Health Condition/Disability’ resource booklet.
Centrelink may offer services that may apply to you and support your ability to work. They can often provide financial help for any extra equipment or needs you may have.
Disability Employment Services is an Australian Government body which helps people with a disability, injury or health condition find
and secure work. More general information is available on:
Telephone: 1800 464 800 or http://employment.gov.au/disability-employment-services
JobAccess provides free information and advice by phone or through the website on a range of disability employment issues including guides on recruitment, workplace modifications and your rights and responsibilities. They also provide help with your individual needs and can assist you in preparing for work, writing a resume, interview techniques and gaining new skills and qualifications.
Telephone: 1800 464 800 or www.jobaccess.gov.au/