I just started a new job working in a supermarket to save up money to go travelling. One of the first things I thought about when I got to work on my first day was “Oh no! I should have bought hand sanitiser with me!”. I thought this because I instantly realised that handling food with nuts in or around it would mean that there was the potential for me to have a reaction. I can’t believe how stupid I was not to think that I would be around nuts and that it might affect my allergy! Well anyway now I HAVE bought some sanitiser with me so that if I come into contact with nuts while on the checkouts, I can wash my hands so that I don’t have a reaction (And just in case I do, I carry my epipen with me too!). Unfortunately this isn’t my only experience with working in a nutty-ish environment. I used to work in a cafe where obviously they had some cakes with nuts in or around them. To avoid having a reaction to these, I told my boss and she was very kind and very considerate and always made sure that I wasn’t around them or had to come into contact with them.
So I suppose by now you might be wondering why i’m just mentioning some awkward work situations that i’ve come across with an allergy. Well, it’s because i’m writing this post to any N.A.J.S (Nut Allergy Job Seekers!), and i’m writing it because I want to prove to them and help them understand that having a nut allergy doesn’t hold you back from getting a job. I mean obviously if you want to apply for work in the Hershey’s factory, it’s probably not the best idea! But either way, I managed to get a job and you can too! There’s only one rule that you have to follow to get a job with a nut allergy and here it is:
The one and only rule to follow: Tell your employer about your allergy!
Now I know that this might seem like an obvious one but you would be shocked at how many people don’t tell their employer about their allergy because they’re worried they won’t get the job. If you tell your potential employer, they will see that as honest and forthcoming, both of which are very employable attributes. If you’re worried that they won’t hire you because of your allergy, they can’t! There’s an act (in the UK at least) which states that you are not allowed to discriminate when employing someone. That’s not just gender, age and sex, that’s everything! As long as you feel comfortable working in the environment, there is no reason for the employer to reject you (unless you have really bad grades or references or something!).
This is a rule that I’ll be honest, I haven’t always followed. But I now do because I personally think that the employer would prefer to know sooner rather than later (i.e. when you’re being wheeled off in an ambulance because they made you work with nuts!). I started telling my potential employers that I had an allergy when I gained a job without telling them and ended up working very closely to nuts and didn’t feel at all comfortable. It’s always better to tell them!
Thanks again for reading N.A.S’s! If you have had any work related stories involving your allergy, i’d love to hear them and they might even get a mention on the blog!
(FYI – I have just been informed that hand sanitiser apparently doesn’t remove peanut proteins, it is best to wash hands with warm soapy water, use a wipe or wear gloves)