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In a week I'll start a job as a programmer which I'm really interested in. However, I hurt my foot and I need to use crutches for a month.

I'm kind of worried it would make some kind of 'bad' impression on my first day. Am I overthinking?

EDIT AFTER EMAIL SENT ------------------------------------

HR told me that it's okai and if there's something they can do for me to get access I can tell them.

So, everything went alright, I guess.

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    Are you worried about anything in particular here? I have a hard time imagining anyone would care about the crutches at all, but are there specific details that lead you to think there might be a problem? – Upper_Case Jan 8 at 18:32
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    That they could tell me 'oh don't worry, take a rest, you may start later', and in that time they could hire someone else. It will be just a month. – dawn Jan 8 at 18:59
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    Did you sign the work contract already? Is it an at-will employment or is there any dismissal protection? – Marzipanherz Jan 8 at 21:42
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    Does everyone have to take turns running in the hamster wheel that powers the computers? If not then I think you'll be fine :) – Lio Elbammalf Jan 9 at 8:54
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    Location may help in giving relevant answers, as law and how it is obeyed vary. – Mołot Jan 9 at 13:07

11 Answers 11

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I'm kind of worried it would make some kind of 'bad' impression in my first day. Or am I overthinking?

Using crutches can happen to anyone, you should not feel bad about it.

If any, I suggest you write an email or similar to your new boss, explaining to him/her about the accident and the crutches, but that you will be there at work as agreed. This way your boss will be aware of the situation and able to act accordingly (that is, to help you with your needs given these crutches).

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    @dawn I can't imagine your boss would care either way. Crutches are common, temporary, and are not likely to have any impact on your work or work environment at all. – Upper_Case Jan 8 at 18:31
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    @dawn I think it's best to tell in advance, it is also professional and courteous to do. Perhaps the company has some policies regarding crutches or can help you in any way to be more comfortable... you have nothing to lose by telling in advance – DarkCygnus Jan 8 at 18:39
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    I agree that it's good form to tell your boss, especially prior to your first day. That way they're aware and won't be surprised. It's not like it's a permanent condition, or will greatly impact your work. It will also help them plan (in the tech industries it's common for the boss or team to take a new hire out to lunch the first few days -- in a large city where they'd normally walk to get food, this would be unnecessarily laborious and awkward). – Doktor J Jan 8 at 20:49
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    A silly example from a job I used to have: some induction training took place in a rather nice meeting room up a rather nasty staircase (old building). If your new starter turned up on crutches whoever was welcoming you would have to think fast about whether you could manage, whether they needed to find another room, etc. A quick word in advance would be courteous and avoid this sort of awkward situation – Chris H Jan 8 at 21:09
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    I agree that the email is a good idea. And I suggest that, in the email, you should not express concern about the crutches making a bad impression. Show your new boss some respect by implicitly assuming that they'll be reasonable, or at least (assuming you're in the US) that they'll comply with the law. (I was using a cane when I started my last job. It wasn't an issue.) – Keith Thompson Jan 8 at 22:30
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You are overthinking this. Accidents happen, and any employer worth working for will understand. If you're good-humored about it, you might even be able to endear yourself to them and leave a good impression on your team.

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Yes you are overthinking. No one should think less of you, and unless your job is champion skier or Himalayan Sherpa or In a role that requires you to stand or walk most of the day (which may cause some issues for you doing your job), I don't see it being a problem.

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    If the job is championship skiing, the employer will surely be expecting the occasional injury and be glad that it's only crutches! – David Richerby Jan 9 at 23:31
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I've gone to work as a software engineer on crutches for a few months due to a sports injury. You'll feel very self-conscious about it, and that's natural. I'm guessing that's probably a large part of where this question is coming from. There were some things I couldn't do for a while but if, like me, 90+% of your job is desk work, and this is temporary, I can't see any reason why it should be a problem.

Honestly, the biggest impairment for me (which I never thought about when able) was the inability to carry anything. Get a sealing water bottle, and that will solve a lot of problems.

I would highly suggest you get a written clearance from your doctor to return to work (for desk work of course). You didn't say where this job is, but I know here in the US my company's HR department wouldn't let me return without it. If you can reassure your new employer you have that and are willing to present it, there shouldn't be any problems.

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    then again, where I live the company isn't going to be allowed to ask for a doctor's note as medical information (which that'd imply you have to give them) is none of their business. – jwenting Jan 9 at 8:45
  • @jwenting Where do you live? At least where I live (Germany), the employer may ask for a doctor's note. The note may not outline the illness, but contains the basic info "fit for work/not fit for work". Our doctor's note usually has three copies, but the copy for the employer is half-sized because the copies for the patient and the insurance have the diagnosis on the lower half. – Alexander Jan 9 at 10:51
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    @Alexander Netherlands. For long term illness, companies are required to contract to medical services themselves that are then allowed to make such determinations. And the reports those guys provide are limited only to the period expected before work can be resumed and suggestions on how to accommodate the reintegration (e.g. changes in work environment, part time work, etc.). Your own physician(s) are yours and neither your insurance nor your employer has any rights to their services or your medical data in any way. – jwenting Jan 9 at 11:23
  • @jwenting In Germany, it was decided that it should always be your choice which doctor to visit. Your company cannot force you to go to a certain doctor or medical service, with the intention that they cannot influence the diagnosis. Even if they have a "Betriebsarzt" (company doctor), you don't have to visit that guy. If the company believes your chosen doctor may assist in pretending illness, they can force you to visit an "Amtsarzt", a special doctor sworn-in by the state. So in the Netherlands it seems the company can contract a favorable medical service which then never finds any illness? – Alexander Jan 9 at 11:33
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    @Alexander the company contracted doctor's sole role is to guide you and the company together to get you back to working your job safely and quickly. They're not going to diagnose your condition, only assist in helping you get back to being a productive employee. E.g. when I was down with carpel tunnel, they suggested to the company changes to my desk, chair, etc. and provided oversight during a phased return to full time work. Of course there are bad apples. One company I worked for had their contracted medical service call people even on short (few days) illness and try to push – jwenting Jan 9 at 11:39
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If anything, this will work to your advantage.

You will have a guaranteed topic of conversation with your coworkers, since everybody will want to know how you did it and how you're feeling. Adopting an attitude of cheerful determination will also impress folks.

Plus, you will be the object of some sympathy, as long as your condition does not last for too long.

  • Agreed, this is actually kind of fortuitous in a way, unless you get weird about it ^_^ – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 9 at 10:49
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    Good idea! I'll keep this in mind when I start a new job. – Matthew Jan 9 at 22:10
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From another perspective -

You have a disability.

Albeit a short term one, but a disability nonetheless.

You didn't say where your employer is, but if it's in any of the English speaking countries, then it's very likely there is some kind kind of employment law in place to protect you from any kind of discrimination based on your disability. That means your employer cannot treat you any differently (in a negative way, at least) than any other employee. In fact, they may even be required to provide certain additional accommodations specifically for disabled employees. An injury requiring crutches probably won't limit your mobility all that much so it's unlikely they'd really need to change anything to accommodate this specific ailment, but still, they will be aware of this possibility and may have already added automatic doors, elevators, ramps, etc. for other disabled employees, and so you'd at least benefit from those improvements.

To be honest, when they see you come in on crutches, your employer is probably going to be more nervous about themselves making a good impression on you than the other way around. After all, they now have all the aforementioned additional responsibilities to live up to, at least until you get better.

All that said, I would not expect anyone to think you're making a bad impression anyway. As others have said - accidents happen. It may even be a nice little icebreaker, giving you something to start a conversation over with your new team mates, as long as you're comfortable chatting about whatever happened.

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    The OP probably does not have a disability in a legal sense. In the UK except Northern Ireland, according to www.gov.uk "You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities." (My emphasis.) Crutches are unlikely to satisfy "long-term". – Martin Bonner Jan 9 at 10:26
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    Nor "substantial" in most cases quite honestly – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 9 at 10:48
  • In the US, it depends. Short-term or non-substantial disabilities are not covered under the ADA, but may be covered under FMLA leave (unpaid), as well as private short-term disability insurance. – user71659 Jan 9 at 21:01
  • Yeah, after the comment from @MartinBonner I had a look at the US definitions too and I guess when it comes to actual laws, they have a slightly more restrictive view of what counts as a disability. Nevertheless, the employer can't predict whether or not there might be any long term complications from OP's injury, so I would still expect them to err on the side of caution and treat their new employee respectfully. It would be a pretty weird company that goes out of its way to give this individual a hard time about an injury just because it's not technically covered by anti-discrimination law – CactusCake Jan 9 at 21:13
  • ADA is so complicated and punitive about excessive inquiry as to a person's disability, they don't get to quiz you about whether it's temporary. Generally the best bet for any employer is to "do what is easy" as the law requires. – Harper Jan 10 at 23:06
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Been there, done that, didn't even get a t-shirt.

Sure, you'll get some strange looks and people will be curious, but it's nothing to worry about unless your job depends on you being to walk without crutches in which case you should contact them and suggest you start a month later after you no longer need the crutches.

Current job, I seriously bruised my ribs and had a bad wound on one foot that made it impossible to wear shoes for months while it healed just a few days before I started. People were surprised to see me like that, but after a few days everyone knew and that was it.

Biggest problem if you're on crutches will be getting to your work site, count on needing more time than normal as you'll be slower stumbling across train and bus platforms than you would normally (and if you'd normally take a car, that's even more relevant, as public transport tends to take more time than driving, and many office estates don't have that great a bus service running to them).

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I do agree with the other answers on here but I just wanted to add that if there is a really lurid/unprofessional story behind how you hurt yourself. You might not want to share that with your boss on your first day.

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    Unless you want the to stop ask you about it. In which case "I fell out of the sex swing at the lemon party" might be a good way to get the questions to stop. – Lee Abraham Jan 10 at 21:22
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You can't make a bad impression by having an injury that requires special accommodation. Even if you could, what are you going to do about it? It's not like you can just decide to to be able to walk safely unassisted.

You're thinking too much. Just go to work. It's a job, not a religious calling. Absolute worse case scenario is that your boss breaks the law and fires you. If that happens you can just go find another job, and you can probably sue your former employer.

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I started writing a comment and accidentally wrote an answer.

There is absolutely no sane reason this can affect your career at all. Your will be seen as a worker that is willingful to sacrifice their own comfort in favor of their job done. If there are issues for you to get the contract it will give you one message: The employer is not worth your effort at all.

I had a serious accident right before I was about to start interviews. I had to postpone the first one for a week to be able to perform basic tasks like eating and such.

I got the job and the only odd looks were, and are, followed by a comment "He almost broke his neck and in two weeks he was succesfull at the interview."

  • You never know in this wild world... – dawn Jan 11 at 0:59
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Based on your question, I'm assuming you either had a phone interview, or you met them face to face without the crutches. I'm with Fattie and advise you to say nothing at all especially if you didn't have the crutches during interview. Simply make a joke on your first day like, "Yeah I had a accident and twisted my ankle. The doctor advise I use crutches for a month and I'm starting to feel better."

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    How is that a joke? – Keith Thompson Jan 8 at 22:23
  • That's not only not a joke, that actually sounds like it'd be disastrous to say. – doppelgreener Jan 9 at 11:17

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