Legal Rights and Obligations

Understanding the key disability related legislative rights and obligations is essential for employers and graduates with disability. Being aware of the broad disability related legal rights and responsibilities in this area will help you to better understand:

  • What you will need to consider when planning your transition from tertiary education to employment
  • What you can expect from employers
  • What expectations employers will have of you in the workplace
  • How to find help if things are not working out

Disclosure: a personal decision

The meaning of 'disclosure' is to open up, to reveal or to tell. Disclosing your disability is a very personal choice. For people with a physical disability, disclosure at any time is inevitable. The issue is therefore not 'should disclosure occur' but how disclosure is addressed and managed to ensure an effective outcome.

Some people choose to disclose their disability knowing that they may need education or work related adjustments to enable them to undertake the tasks associated with study or work. Others may choose to disclose in order to avoid misunderstanding or labelling by others. Some people may use disclosure to create an opportunity for educating others about disability and its impact. Disclosure can also provide an opportunity to find out about disability related services, support and other information.

However, some people are fearful of disclosing their disability, believing they may be discriminated against, or denied opportunities. This website provides substantial information about making informed choice and can be used when sharing and monitoring information about their disability in post secondary education and employment environments. An informed choice means finding out everything you can about disclosure and whether it is necessary in your particular circumstance.

Disclosure: Choosing your path is an NDCO website which provides substantial information for people with disabilities that can be used in assisting to make decisions around disclosure.

Workplace Modifications

Previously referred to as a 'reasonable adjustment', a workplace modification is a change to a work process, practice, procedure or environment that enables an employee with disability to perform their job in a way that minimises the impact of their disability.

Some examples of workplace modifications that are commonly made are:

  • Flexible working arrangements, for example allowing the person with disability to work outside of business hours
  • Changes to lighting, for example increased natural light
  • Providing assistive technology
  • Installation of a ramp
  • Acquiring or modifying equipment
  • Additional training or mentoring

Employers are not required to make workplace modifications if they are able to prove that by making these modifications it will cause 'unjustifiable hardship' to the organisation/employer.

Unjustifiable hardship could be in the form of financial cost, an amendment to the physical building that is not possible due to council or other restrictions, or an adjustment that would disadvantage other employees.

Source: Workplace Adjustments (opens in a new window)

The Australian Human Rights Commission has developed a Good practice, good business information sheet (opens in a new window) [PDF], which details further information of discrimination in the workplace and workplace adjustments.