Disclosing a Disability
One of the issues that can arise when looking for work is whether, when and how to disclose your disability.
When requesting further information about a job vacancy it is worth remembering that you can ask for this in an alternative format, such as large print, Braille, tape or on a computer disc. You can also submit your application in an alternative format. Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, providing application materials in an alternative format is likely to be considered a reasonable adjustment that an employer should make.
Under the DDA 1995, the employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments to the arrangements for interview. If you need any adjustments tell the employer in advance so that they can make the necessary adjustments in time.
Access to Work
Access to Work is a scheme run by Gov.UK. If you have to attend an interview, Access to Work can meet the costs of a communicator and/or travel to the interview. Access to Work can also pay for support you need when you are in employment. For more information click here
Disclosing a Disability
You may feel that there is no need to tell a potential employer and your disability will not affect your ability to do the job, you may have a disability that you cannot hide, you may be unhappy about putting details on your application form. There is no clear cut answer as to whether you should tell potential employers that you are disabled; you must use your own judgement.
Here are some arguments for & against disclosing:
Reasons For Disclosure
- If you declare your disability and feel that you have been treated unfairly in the application process, you can make a complaint to an employment tribunal
- Many employers have equal opportunities policies
- Some employers are keen to employ disabled people
- Many application forms or medical questionnaires for jobs ask direct questions about disability and heath, if you give false information about this and your employer finds out the truth later, you could risk losing your job
- If your disability has any implications for the health and safety of yourself or your colleagues, you are obliged to inform your employer under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974)
Reasons Against Disclosure
- You may be discriminated against or rejected by employers with pre-set ideas about the effects of disability
- You may feel that it will give the employer the chance to label you by your disability
- Your disability may have no effect on your ability to do the job
Timing a Disclosure
At what point during the application process do you disclose your disability?
Some forms have direct questions about disability, so you can give any information and details that you feel are important here. You may feel that your disability increases your ability to do the job. You may wish to include this in the section on the form that asks why you feel you are suitable for the job.
On Medical Questionnaires
Whether you fill one of these out depends on the type of job you are applying for, you will have to answer honestly. If your disability has any health implications you will need to put this on the form.
On Equal Opportunities Monitoring Forms
Equal opportunities forms are not to judge your application and are separated from the main application form. This means that the people who interview you do not see the forms. They should judge the applicants on the basis of their skills and work experience only.
In a Covering Letter
If applying with a CV you could mention your disability in the covering letter. It could also be mentioned in your CV, e.g. if you have been to a specialist college or school for disabled people.
Before the Interview
If you require special arrangements for the interview contact the employer stating what arrangements are required.
At the Interview
It may surprise them if you have come this far in the application process and not said that you have a disability (even if it has no effect on your ability to do the job). They may end up asking irrelevant questions about your disability that you could have easily explained on the application form. This time should be spent explaining how suitable you are for the job, not focusing on any disability.
Some of your work colleagues may show prejudices, especially if they have had limited contact with disabled people before. You may find it useful to explain subtle things that you may have e.g. your condition may vary; you can hear some things better than others etc.
People may ask a lot of questions about your disability. Often this is relevant e.g.
- Is this print large enough?
- Is this lighting okay?
- Are the shelves the right height?
However you may have to deal with irrelevant questions about your disability e.g.:
- How much can you see?
- How much can you hear?
- What is wrong with your legs?
- When and how did it happen?