Work and Employment

Empowering Your Career: Work and Employment with a Colostomy


Returning to work and pursuing a fulfilling career is not only achievable but encouraged for individuals with a colostomy. This article explores the essential aspects of work and employment with a colostomy, including returning to work post-ostomy, workplace accommodations, and understanding your legal rights and disclosure options.

Returning to Work Post-Ostomy

Returning to work after ostomy surgery may seem daunting, but it is an important step towards reclaiming your professional life. Consider the following:

  • Timing: The timing of your return should align with your medical recovery and your ability to manage your colostomy effectively.

  • Consult with Your Healthcare Team: Consult your healthcare team and NSWOC (Nurses Specialized in Wound, Ostomy and Continence) before returning to work. They can provide guidance on managing your colostomy in a work setting.

  • Support System: Lean on your support system, including friends, family, and ostomy support groups, for emotional and practical support as you transition back to the workplace.

  • Build Confidence: Embrace your colostomy and build confidence in managing it at work. Your colostomy is a part of your journey, and it doesn’t define your abilities or professionalism.

Workplace Accommodations

Workplace accommodations can help ensure a smooth and successful transition back to work. Here are some considerations:

  • Private Restroom Facilities: Request access to a private restroom or a designated area for changing your pouch and managing your colostomy discreetly.

  • Flexible Scheduling: Discuss flexible scheduling options with your employer, which can be helpful if you need additional restroom breaks or medical appointments.

  • Stoma-Friendly Seating: If possible, request a workspace or desk that allows you to sit comfortably, especially if your colostomy is in a sensitive location.

  • Odor-Control Measures: Work with your employer to implement odour-control measures in shared spaces, such as restrooms, to ensure a comfortable and respectful environment for all employees.

Legal Rights and Disclosures

Knowing your rights and how to share information about your colostomy is important when it comes to work in Canada. Here are some important rules and considerations to think about:

  • Canadian Human Rights Act: In Canada, the Canadian Human Rights Act protects individuals from discrimination on the grounds of disability. A colostomy may be considered a disability, entitling you to certain protections and accommodations.

  • Provincial and Territorial Legislation: It’s important to be aware that employment rights can vary by province or territory in Canada. Each region may have its own human rights legislation and labor laws. Be sure to consult the specific legislation applicable to your province or territory to understand your rights and responsibilities.

  • Disclosure Decisions: The decision to disclose your colostomy to your employer or coworkers is a personal one. Some individuals choose to disclose their condition to foster a more supportive work environment, while others prefer to keep it private. Be aware that, in some cases, your employer may not be aware of your specific condition, so open communication is often key to securing necessary accommodations.

  • Reasonable Accommodations: If you choose to disclose your colostomy, you have the right to request reasonable accommodations in the workplace. These accommodations may include additional restroom breaks, a private area for pouch changes, or modified work schedules. It is essential to discuss these accommodations professionally and clearly with your employer.

  • Confidentiality: If you choose to disclose your colostomy, your employer is legally obligated to maintain the confidentiality of your medical condition. This means that your medical information should not be shared with coworkers without your consent.


In conclusion, work and employment with a colostomy are not only achievable but also protected by legal rights and accommodations. By returning to work post-ostomy, discussing workplace accommodations with your employer, and understanding your legal rights and disclosure options, you can pursue a fulfilling and successful career while managing your colostomy effectively. Your colostomy is a part of your life, but it doesn’t define your professional capabilities or your right to a supportive and respectful work environment.

Ostomy Canada Society Inc. is not an organization of medical professionals. The information provided on our website is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

It is crucial to consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including your physician or a Nurse Specialized in Wound, Ostomy, and Continence (NSWOC), before making any decisions about your health. Every individual’s medical condition is unique, and what may be suitable for one person may not be appropriate for another.

Ostomy Canada Society Inc. does not endorse or recommend specific medical treatments, procedures, products, or opinions mentioned on the website. Reliance on any information provided on this site is solely at your own risk.

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