Employer’s will often come to us as HR Consultants with one complaint, “But they didn’t tell us about their disability.”
These employers will share with us that their new employee has just revealed a health condition that they didn’t previously let them know about. What can be done? They ask.
The answer is very little.
If an prospective employee chooses not to share with their prospective employer that they have a health condition that may be a disability, the reason for the non-disclosure may well be a feeling that if they do, they will not be selected for the role. In our experience this is often most true for what we describe to be ‘hidden disabilities’ such as depression, diabetes, epilepsy, endometriosis etc.
If you don’t know you can’t be criticised
If you have no knowledge of someone’s health condition, because they chose not to tell you, and you are accused of discriminating on the grounds of disability, your defence is going to be that you had no knowledge.
This can be useful.
Do bear in mind though, this doesn’t work when it would have been obvious that there was a disability, despite them not informing you.
Remember employers are often advised to seek medical opinion to establish whether a disability as defined by the Equality Act 2010 exists and what support the employee needs to perform their role. It can be very useful to know about a health condition as in many cases with reasonable adjustments the workplace, work or timing of work can be adapted to accomodate an employee’s health condition.
So what should you do when you find out that an employee has a disability?
When you have been made aware of a condition or diagnosis, our advice is to consider whether it would be helpful to receive an Occupational Health physician’s report or to request the employee’s permission to write to their GP.
It is often the case that where the employee has had a diagnosis of neurodiversity that they have a support plan that where shared with the employer, this can greatly benefit both parties. There are also neurodiversity coaches that can assist.
A risk assessment may be helpful once a diagnosis is revealed.
If you need any assistance with any aspect of managing people in the workplace, please call us on 01527 909436.