Member of the European Parliament Rosa Estaras-Ferragut is one of the main supporters of EMSP’s Employment Pact for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and other neurodegenerative diseases.
She signed our Call to Action and she also agreed to give an interview for our blog on the importance of providing a better workplace for those living with a chronic condition.
The “uniqueness” of MS
EMSP: Were you aware of the challenges people with MS were facing in the workplace before you heard about our Pact for Employment?
Estaras-Ferragut: I have been in contact with people with multiple sclerosis (MS) for a long time. When you have MS, you may have to deal with unique issues at work. Unfortunately, there’s no one right way to navigate MS in the workplace. The disease affects every person differently, and each situation is unique. It’s believed that fatigue is a primary reason that people with MS opt to leave the workforce. But there are many ways to effectively manage this and other symptoms of MS.
EMSP: How would you convince an employer to hire or keep an employee with MS?
Estaras-Ferragut: Many people with MS go on to work successfully long term. People living with multiple sclerosis know that some days are easy, but that MS symptoms can make others very difficult. However, the desire to be productive and keep working remains the same. Working part-time can be a good option for some people living with MS.
“Focus on what you CAN do”
EMSP: What is your message for people with MS looking to find or keep jobs?
Estaras-Ferragut: Dealing with the life changes that multiple sclerosis (MS) brings can be a challenge, and attitude is everything. It is easy to focus only on what MS makes difficult but that will not help jobseekers with MS figure out what their next career move is going to be. In this sense, the message could be “focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t”.
EMSP: What can the European Parliament do to boost employment for people with MS and other neurodegenerative diseases?
Estaras-Ferragut: As it is well known, employment is not an EU competence area. However, the EU and the European Parliament are currently committed to lifelong learning to move towards the knowledge society and to achieve social and economic integration. We need to incorporate different needs of individuals and communities in all aspects of our work in building a “New Information Society”, which is a society without barriers.