Disclosure as an employee

For applicants, being offered a job interview can be exciting and at the same time nerve wracking. The offer of a job interview provides an opportunity to prepare in advance for the interview, in areas such as:

  • reviewing the job criteria and duty statements
  • practicing answering likely questions
  • preparing personal documents and transcripts
  • further researching the organisation
  • preparing questions to be presented to the interview panel.

Applicants who have a disability may also need to consider their options about disclosing a disability when an interview offer has been made.

Disclosure of disability

Every job-seeker with a disability is faced with the choice of whether or not to disclose their disability. Ultimately the decision is a personal one, based on a number of issues. Below are some of the considerations job-seekers may make at the time of developing a career plan and seeking employment

Why job-seekers may choose to disclose

Ursula is very keen to work with elderly people who have visual impairments and she believes her own experiences of managing a visual impairment will provide a valuable addition to her work. Therefore, she has decided to disclose her disability when speaking to prospective employers or employment agencies, to provide evidence of her skills and commitment to this work.

Job-seekers with a disability may choose to disclose their disability to:

  • obtain disability specific information to assist in developing an effective career plan that addresses possible barriers and strategies
  • identify disability specific employment services and support networks
  • discuss employment requirements with recruitment agencies, employment organisations and/or professional registration boards
  • meet with employees and employers with disabilities to obtain information, experiences and suggested strategies in seeking employment
  • identify and access disability specific employment and recruitment schemes e.g. PACE Mentoring Program
  • assist in identifying disability specific positions of employment (if the job-seekers career plan is to work in a disability related employment area)
  • discuss disability issues with prospective employers to determine whether the inherent requirements of the position could be met, with or without work related adjustments, and what support services and supports are available in the organisation
  • obtain information about an organisation's employment equity strategies.

Why job-seekers may choose NOT to disclose

Sean has decided to investigate all employment options that are available to him now that he has successfully completed his degree in Engineering. He has decided not to disclose his disability, because he feels that through his course he has developed a range of strategies and skills for assisting him to complete the broad range of tasks required of engineers. He has tested these skills in numerous field trips and practicums.

Job-seekers with a disability may choose NOT to disclose their disability because:

  • they believe that they can manage their career development plan and job seeking activities in the same way as any other job-seekers
  • they do not believe that disclosing would be effective in developing a career plan or seeking employment
  • they fear that they may be treated differently or may not receive the same opportunities as other job-seekers
  • they are able to access information and resources without disclosing their disability.

What to disclose

It is not essential to disclose specific medical or personal information about a disability. A persons disability is only important in so far as it may have an impact on some aspects of the inherent requirements of the chosen career and to help identify any work related adjustments which may be required.

To whom should disclosure occur

A job-seeker with a disability may choose to disclose their disability when developing a career plan and seeking employment. Disclosure of disability may be made to the following personnel:

  • careers advisors; to assist in the development of an effective career plan and job opportunities
  • disability specific employment services and support networks; to assist in job-seeking activities and opportunities and/or develop external support networks
  • professional registration boards; to identify professional registration requirements
  • employees and employers with disabilities; obtain specific disability and employment information, develop mentoring networks and other support structures
  • disability specific employment and recruitment schemes; to take advantage of equal employment opportunities and schemes
  • prospective employers; to assist in obtaining information about the organisation, the prospective position, equity programs, support structures, workplace adjustment schemes.

The purpose of disclosing

The main purpose of disclosure at the point of developing a career plan and job seeking is to:

  • obtain information about career options, skill requirements and career registration requirements to determine whether the job-seeker can meet the job specifications of prospective positions of employment
  • assist in identifying possible work related adjustments that may be required in positions of employment
  • establish external support structures to be put in place when a position of employment is made available
  • develop mentoring and peer support structures with employees and employers with disabilities
  • access disability specific recruitment and employment schemes
  • discuss a particular position of employment with a prospective employer to obtain information about the requirements, organisational structure, and/or support services.

Disclosure is most effective when people are clear about the purpose and the desired outcomes of disclosing. This ensures that disclosure occurs with the right person, in a timely and appropriate manner and with a clear goal in mind.

"Effective disclosure begins when individuals are knowledgeable about their disability and are able to articulate both their disability-related needs and their (skills)" (1)

Job-seekers: Rights and responsibilities in disclosing whilst developing a career plan and while looking for work

Job-seekers have a right to:

  • have information about their disability treated confidentially and respectfully
  • seek information from organisations about equity policies, practices and strategies from potential employers prior to applying for positions of employment. These policies and practices may be available from public organisations and larger private organisations
  • choose to disclose their disability prior to applying for positions of employment to discuss specific requirements in relation to their disability or to discuss the inherent requirements of the position and how they will manage them effectively.

Responsibilities:

  • job-seekers need to be aware that disclosing prior to applying for a position does not remove their responsibility in disclosing their disability once in the position of employment IF they wish to implement work related adjustments
  • job-seekers with a disability need to address the essential requirements of an advertised position, regardless of the fact that preliminary discussions had occurred with the prospective employer.

Other parties: Role and responsibilities when Job-seekers disclose their disability whilst developing a career plan and while looking for work

Roles:

  • for support services, as identified by the job-seeker with a disability, to meet and discuss with them the identified issues and inform them about available support structures, strategies and services
  • for support services to inform the job-seeker about legislative rights and the different points of disclosure in the employment environment
  • where appropriate, the identified support service may start to develop a 'Plan of Action' with the job-seeker to develop strategies to meet the identified employment goals
  • prospective employers and/or recruitment organisations that choose to meet with the job-seeker, are required to provide information, advice and guidance about employment opportunities in an objective, non-discriminatory manner.

Responsibilities:

  • to keep all Information confidential, unless the job-seeker has provided written consent to have information disclosed to other parties such as human resources, recruitment organisations, other support services or other employment contacts
  • to be non intrusive and respectful of the job-seeker's right to privacy
  • if a prospective employer chooses to meet with a job-seeker prior to them applying for a position of employment, it is the responsibility of the employer to objectively provide information in a non-discriminatory manner. If the job-seeker then applies for the position, it is the employers' responsibility to objectively assess their application, as with any applicant, to determine whether they have met the criteria for the position to warrant an interview.

It is important to know that it is against Federal and State laws to discriminate against someone on the basis of their disability. The Federal Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992 protects people with disabilities from discriminatory treatment in a range of areas including employment.

An employer's (or prospective employer's) main obligations under both the Acts are

  • not to discriminate directly by less favourable treatment
  • not to discriminate indirectly by treatment which is less favourable in its impact
  • to make reasonable adjustments where required
  • to avoid and prevent harassment.

For further information refer to:

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