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Guidance for managers on supporting staff with disabilities

As a manager, it is important to understand those who may identify as disabled under the Equality act 2010. The list includes individuals with:

  • A Specific Learning Difference (SpLD) like dyslexia
  • Physical and sensory impairments
  • Long-term health conditions and mental health conditions, this could include illnesses like cancer but also if you have long-term depression
  • Neurodiversity or Autism

It is important for you to understand your responsibilities if a member of your team discloses a disability. The following advice will help you to have a supportive conversation with your staff member and enable you to identify how best you can help them to continue working effectively.

  • Be open to direct reports disclosing a disability. It can be uncomfortable for individuals to disclose they have a disability for various reasons so please be sensitive when somebody does and reassure the individual that you will support them.
    • Treat any disclosure confidentially and seek consent to share any information with HR and/or the department head
    • Listen and ask open questions for active listening
    • Ask about the impact this has on their working and day-to-day life
    • Ask about strategies they have in place for managing their disability
    • Ask about any struggles they have and any particular strengths they feel are as a result
    • Ask about any treatment they are currently receiving
    • Discussing reasonable adjustments with your staff member and supporting them to put them in place refer to reasonable adjustment guidance
  • Refer your staff member to occupational health for further advice on what reasonable adjustments may be required
    • Discuss OH report with staff member.  
    • Reasonable adjustments (RAs) could be specific equipment, flexibility in their working schedule or adapting certain tasks to support them to work efficiently (it's absolutely fine to not know what they could be or are), some examples are shared below:
      • Additional equipment- ergonomic equipment, extra screen, specialist software
      • Flexible working pattern, e.g. later start and later finish to allow for the effects of medication
      • Flexible working- working from home at times if flare ups or fluctuations in disability
      • Being flexible if they are required to attend any support or treatment they have outside of work
      • Captions on zoom or use teams for inbuilt captions
      • Welcoming any support workers

Staff may present to you with difficulties they are experiencing but may not have a formal diagnosis. It can be helpful to get a diagnosis so you can support them adequately with the disability they have. The list below may be helpful:

  • Mental health - speak to a doctor and if it has or is likely to affect an individual for 6 months or longer, then a doctor can write a letter to confirm this
  • Neurodiversity - it is a lengthy process to get a diagnosis for autism or ADHD, advice to speak to GP and request for a screening and to be referred to a specialist. This online service offers some more info about getting a diagnosis of ADHD
  • Specific Learning Differences (SpLD) for dyslexia initial screening follow this simple checklist which can show indicators
  • If a staff member is enquiring about getting a diagnostic assessment, speak to your HR partner or refer your staff to OH
  • Access to work: Your staff member may be eligible for support with travel or equipment or human support may be approved and funded, for example, if they need an interpreter to effectively do their job if they are deaf. A job coach, mentor or admin support might be additional support that can be awarded if they have any neurological difficulties or Learning Differences, these are just some examples.
  • Companies like generate and able futures (specifically for mental health) can be the providers of such support and can also provide advice and guidance on access to work and reasonable adjustments.
  • Staff maybe able to access RNIB bookshare, you can find out if they are eligible
  • Validium Employment assistance programme offers support for staff
  • Flexible working policy (see Work Patterns under HR Forms, Policies and Procedures)
  • Guidance on making reasonable adjustments
  • Scope- equality for disabled people
  • acas working for everyone
  • Exceptional Individuals
  • My plus