Disclosure of Disabilities
Source – Target Jobs
Disclosing your disability to employers
Deciding to disclose your disability to an employer is a matter of personal choice. You are under no legal obligation to do so, and it’s for you to choose if and when you disclose.
Do you want to disclose?
Think about whether your disability raises a health and safety issue for yourself or your future colleagues. If it does, you may have to disclose so that employers can help ensure you have a safe working environment. You may also wish to disclose if you need any adjustments to help accommodate your disability, either at the application stage or during your day-to-day work.
Once you’ve told an employer about your disability, you’re protected by the Equality Act 2010. This means your employer must take all reasonable steps to provide the necessary adjustments and mustn’t discriminate against you because of your disability.
Bear in mind that if you choose not to tell your employer and later underperform, you won’t be covered by the Equality Act. An employer who was unaware of your condition can’t be judged to have discriminated against you.
When to disclose your disability
- Application stage:there may be a section on the application form asking about any serious health conditions or disabilities. Although you don’t generally have to disclose your disability here, you mustn’t lie. If you don’t want to disclose, simply don’t answer the question. You can also use the personal statement section of the form to tell an employer about your disability.
- CV:there may be a gap in your educational history due to a period of prolonged illness. You can use your covering letter to explain this, but always present it in a way that will show you in a positive light. You can also refer to your disability in your CV if you attended a specialist school or college for disabled people.
- Covering letter:if you mention your disability here, emphasise how it has further developed the skills and experience mentioned in your CV. However, only raise this when it’s relevant to your application. For example, point to how well you’ve achieved your goals despite any difficulties.
- Pre-interview stage:this is when you may want to identify practical needs so you can compete equally with other applicants. If you haven’t been asked about your needs, take the initiative and contact the employer in advance – they may need time to make arrangements.
- Interview:you may feel more comfortable disclosing when you can discuss the implications face-to-face and more clearly demonstrate your skills. If you’ve previously mentioned your disability, the interview can be an opportunity to expand on any positive effects it’s had on your life and how it’s enhanced your employability.
- In the job:you may decide to disclose your disability once you’ve been offered the job or when you start work. You can decide who to tell – your manager or HR – and you can also request that colleagues aren’t told. If your condition affects the way you work, it may be helpful to be open with colleagues so they understand and can help you with anything you may need.
How to disclose your disability
- Only discuss your disability in terms of its relevance to your performance in the job. Don’t go into personal detail. Always be positive about your disability and use it to provide evidence of the skills employers look for.
- Emphasise positive achievements and give examples. You may have gained skills such as flexibility, determination, the ability to perform under pressure and creative problem-solving as a result of your disability, and you shouldn’t be afraid to use these as selling points.
- Make a positive statement about your disability to remove any doubts an employer may have. Don’t assume they’ll have a negative attitude – your experiences and skills may give you the edge over other candidates.
- Avoid focusing the whole of your application or interview on the issue of your disability. Your main focus should be on showing the employer your suitability for the job. Speak to a careers adviser about whether, when and how to tell an employer about your disability.
- Some interviewers have little experience of disability and may feel unsure of workplace implications. Be prepared to make suggestions about what adjustments you would need in order to do the job effectively
Accurate up to April 25 2016, Euan McCall