Disclosure of Disability - Join the Discussion

Fri 28 March 2014

The disclosure of disability is a topic that never fails to ignite debate.  It is also directly linked to the issue of setting quotas or targets, as without disclosure by all employees with disability, quotas are meaningless. 

Some individuals and organisations believe that encouraging people with disability to disclose is the best way to measure the success of an inclusion strategy – how do you know if your workforce truly reflects the diversity of society if you don’t know how many people with disability you actually have within the organisation? 

Others take a more holistic approach, in that it if you have the most inclusive policies and procedures in place, and focus on recruiting and retaining skilled people, then disclosure of disability should be a side issue at best.  In this scenario, it shouldn’t actually make any difference one way or the other if a person has disability, as the workplace is completely barrier-free for everyone.

Legally, there is no obligation for an employee to disclose a disability unless it affects their ability to carry out the ‘inherent requirements of the job’, which includes working safely.  Employees also need to disclose if they require reasonable adjustments, although the extent to which they do so is up to them.  For example, a person may request additional break periods due to a medical condition, however they are not required to disclose the specific condition if they do not wish to. 

Some employees may fear that disclosing the full details of their disability may be career limiting, and may cause their employer to look at them differently; as a ‘disabled person’, rather than simply a skilled employee who has specific requirements about the way they work. 

At AND, our Relationship Managers have different views based on the requests and needs of their member organisations.  Some are concerned that including ‘increasing rates of disclosure’ as an organisational goal may lead to hiring managers focusing on getting people to disclose, rather than identifying and eliminating barriers to inclusion.  On the other hand, if an organisation doesn’t measure and track the number of people with disability they have employed, how will they be able to measure their progress against their Accessibility Action Plan?

We would like to hear what our members think on the subject.  Do you think it is important for employees with disability to disclose, regardless of whether or not they need adjustments?  Or is encouraging disclosure placing the emphasis on the wrong subject; should we be framing our disability-related measurement questions around adjustments instead?

Please join our Disclosure discussion on the AND Discussion Group on LinkedIn.  We will include a synopsis of the discussion in next month’s newsletter.

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