The challenges of whether, when, how, who and what to tell others about your disability makes this process one of the more difficult things about working with a disability. This can also be further impacted by fear of negative reactions. Keep in mind you are not obliged to tell an employer about how your disability impacts you at work unless you require workplace adjustments or if safety considerations need to be met.
The decision to share information about your disability is an individual one, based on a number of reasons. Even people with similar disabilities will often choose different options about sharing. Here are some things you may take into consideration to help guide you through the process.
Sharing information about your disability works best when you are clear about the purpose and the goals of sharing.
People can share information about their disability for a variety of reasons. Some choose to share knowing that they may need work-related adjustments to complete the tasks that work demands. You may wish to share skills and knowledge associated with your lived experience of disability. Others may choose to share to find out if the workplace supports working with people with disability. Sharing your personal information can also allow you to show how your disability is related to the position.
Setting a clear purpose is the first step to assist with achieving a positive outcome when sharing your personal information. This can be achieved by sharing with the right person, in a timely and appropriate manner, and with a clear goal in mind.
Choosing when you share information about your disability is a big decision. The best time will depend on lots of factors. There are opportunities to share at the following stages:
Many people choose not to share information about disability related support needs until after the recruitment process is complete and a job offer has been made. This is because it is very difficult to identify or prove discrimination in the recruitment process. Once a job offer has been made you can negotiate reasonable adjustments knowing you have been selected the most suitable applicant.
Exceptions to this may be where:
The five stages listed above offer a number of opportunities to share information about your disability.If you choose to share during the application process, you can do so in your resume, application letter or application form. While it’s generally not considered standard practice for applicants to share their disability at this time, it may be appropriate if:
If you choose to share personal information about your disability when you're offered an interview, the most suitable person to share this with is the lead of the interview panel or a member of the interview panel. If you need to, ask who the members of the interview panel are after the interview has been arranged.
At the time an offer is made, you may share your disability to the employer, supervisor or human resources. The person who has offered the position of employment may not be the right person to share your disability to.
If you share information about your disability in a health questionnaire, you will need to answer specific questions. This information tends to be given to departments such as human resources. An employer may give a questionnaire at a job interview or when they offer a position of employment.
At any stage in the job, you may share your disability to your manager or the human resources department. Who you share with will depend on the processes within your workplace and the purpose of your sharing.
If you’re considering sharing your disability, find out whether the organisation has a specific contact person for arranging workplace adjustments.
Which way you choose to share, it’s not a requirement to provide specific medical or personal information about a disability. The information you provide will depend on your reasons for sharing.
Sharing information about your disability is only important if it may have an impact on the requirements of the job role and help you and your employer identify any work-related adjustments which may be required.
Therefore, you’re only obliged to tell your workplace about how your disability impacts you at work.
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