Wave-length have been asking the question, ‘Why do people with a disability decide not to declare it to their employer?’ It is clear that people who have a disability find themselves asking the question of whether or not they should inform their employer of their disability. Many people feel that as soon as they inform their employer about their disability they will be looked at differently, underestimated and possibly discriminated. In fact because of this reason, the majority of people we spoke to said they would not inform their employer of their disability. One person we spoke to, expressed his opinion that any work performed by an individual with a disability will automatically be questioned simply due to the fact that someone has a disability. Followed by ‘Why would you automatically want to have your work questioned by everyone if there is no need to disclose?’
Some people we spoke to explained that they had no problem disclosing their disability to their employer, and they have had a good experience with support for their disability within the workplace. However, this is mainly a result of them having a previously close relationship to their employer. Eight out of ten people we asked said that the main reason they will not disclose their condition to their employer is through fear of things changing for them in a bad way, for example less pay, becoming an open target for more stigma, discrimination and getting ‘microscopically analysed on a daily basis’.
We spoke to a lady who worked in the food industry and had psoriasis on her arms. She explained that she had never previously had any problems with her psoriasis in the workplace, but since starting a new job she has found her new employer is not as understanding. She explained that she was asked to cover her arms up when waitressing as it was putting customers off and that other staff felt uncomfortable with her having her arms on show in case the caught something. Even though she explained that her psoriasis was not contagious, she found her employer and co-workers made her uncomfortable in her working environment. Understandably, when working with food, it is important to cover up psoriasis on the hands, lower arms and head as it complies with health and safety food regulations. But being treated like you are contagious just demonstrates that employers and staff need to be educated on disabilities and conditions, so that they have facts to go off, not assumptions.
So obviously when people see how others with visible disabilities are treated, they are going to think twice about openly declaring their disability with an employer.
Wave-length are holding a free seminar at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College on July 30th, aimed at managers, HR, customer facing and Equality and Diversity officers. The main purpose of the event is to discuss the reasons why people do not declare their disability to their employers and what can be done to encourage more to do so. Just because a person has a disability or mental health condition, does not mean that they cannot produce a certain standard of work. It just means that they may need a few simple things put into place in order to help them continue to do their job. We will also be talking about our new Wave-length Well feature that will allow members of our website to access case studies, case law, research and training tools so that employers can understand a condition a member of staff has and what can be put into place to support them to benefit both the employer and the employee.
If you would like to know more about the event please email firstname.lastname@example.org.