Employees with a disability also have to manage their disability related needs including the impact of a busy work schedule on their health and well-being. It is possible that employees with a disability may be faced with the decision to disclose their disability when they are in their position of employment.
Some employees might choose not disclose their disability in the early stages of their job because they are able to manage their workload or they don't require any additional support. However, an employee's situation can change for a variety of reasons and this may impact on their decision to disclose.
The circumstances of an employee can change over time whilst in a position of employment. Changes may include:
- increased workloads
- career developments
- greater understanding of organisational policies and procedures
- the impact of their disability on daily activities
- acquiring a disability or chronic medical condition
- changes to their personal situation
- acquiring a disability as a direct result of work
- acquiring a disability due to the natural ageing process
- feeling more secure and comfortable in the job.
All or any of these circumstances can be a catalyst for an employee to consider whether or not to disclose their disability while in the job.
Disclosure whilst in the job may occur as a pro-active measure.
Pro-active disclosure may occur due to:
- the need to promote the fact that people with disabilities can work in many positions of employment
- an understanding of new advancements in disability supports and equipment that may not have been known or recognised when first employed
- the need to implement work related adjustments
- personal circumstances may change, such as acquiring a disability or medical condition
- experiencing a progression of their disability
- feeling more comfortable and confident about disclosing in a familiar environment
- being confident to disclose their disability knowing that it will not lead to discriminatory attitudes and actions
- job and conditions may have changed such as moving to a new work location, agreeing to take on additional duties, a new supervisor/manager and/or new colleagues any of which may highlight issues in relation to a disability
- not performing well in the job due to their disability and may need to explain the situation to their employer
It is important for an employee to try to obtain some space from their work environment to develop an effective plan for disclosure in the event of a crisis.
Disclosure may occur due to a crisis and therefore may require support to be put in place to ensure that their job is not in jeopardy. Crisis disclosure may occur due to an employee;
- acquiring a disability that requires support and work related adjustments e.g. time off work, lighter duties, change to work hours, equipment
- experiencing a relapse or deterioration of their disability that previously did not require any form of intervention by the organisation
- being required to attend disciplinary meetings due to poor work performance. Poor performance may be related to the employee's disability and so disclosure may be required to inform management of these issues with the aim of developing work related adjustments
The aim of disclosure at this time is to:
- alert management about the employees disability issues which should be discussed and addressed as priority before commencing with poor work performance procedures
- acting on disability issues includes working with the employee to identify work related adjustments to assist the employee to meet the inherent requirements of the position