Disclosing your disability to an employer 

Thursday, 10 November 2022

Every person looking to find and maintain employment has the choice to disclose their disability or not.

There are several important factors that need to be considered when making this personal decision.

To help guide you on this journey, EPIC Assist (EPIC) has compiled a list of some of the things you may need to consider when making this decision.

Know the law

An employee is only obligated to tell an employer about their disability if it affects their ability to do a particular job or if it affects their ability to work safely and ensure the safety of others.

Once an employee has told their employer about their disability, the employer must consider appropriate responses, including specific training or work-related adjustments.

Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, employers cannot treat a person with disability less favourably than a person without disability would be treated in the same or similar situation. Employers must also avoid and prevent harassment of employees with disability.

If an employee discloses a disability, the employer must keep all information about the disability confidential. To share information about an employee’s disability with others in your organisation, they must get written consent from the employee.

Look at the options

Disability Employment Services

Whether you disclose your disability or not, support options are available.

EPIC Assist is a not-for-profit Disability Employment Services (DES) provider that helps job seekers with a disability, injury, mental health condition, or health condition on their employment journey. 

EPIC can help you determine if disclosure is the appropriate choice for you. The EPIC team can also help you navigate  to other available support services.

Work Assist

Another form of assistance available is Work Assist, which provides support to eligible employees who have difficulty fulfilling the essential requirements of their role due to their injury, disability or health condition.
An employee who is having difficulty fulfilling the essential requirements of their employment due to an injury, disability or health condition can seek Work Assist support from a DES provider.
Types of assistance can include workplace modifications or special equipment and support in the workplace to help manage the impact of the injury, disability, or health condition.

For a DES service to help implement workplace adjustments, it may be more challenging if you choose not to disclose your disability.

Choose when to disclose

When to disclose your disability is a big decision with different factors and opportunities to consider. There are a few critical moments at varying stages of your employment journey to remember.

During the application process

It is not a common practice for people to disclose their disability on a CV or cover letter unless they are obligated to do so. If, however, you decide it is in your best interest to disclose your disability at this stage, be specific. The information provided should only apply to the position you are applying for and speak to any requirements or adjustments needed in the workplace to fulfil the job requirements.

During a job interview or phone screening

At this stage, it is ideal to wait until after an interview is arranged to disclose your disability. This ensures the interview is secured before any discussions or negotiations about adjustments for the interview need to be made.

You may also need to consider how you would like to disclose your disability. Some information you might like to share includes what your disability is, why you chose to disclose it, and the types of adjustments that would need to be made in the workplace.

When an offer of employment is made

Congratulations! You’ve received an offer of employment. If you’re ready to disclose information to an appropriate person, there are some key points to have ready. 

  1. What your disability is. 
  2. Why you have chosen to disclose your disability.
  3. How your disability and life experiences may positively influence the position. 
  4. The type of work-related adjustments required.

As part of your onboarding through HR

Some offers of employment may be subject to undertaking health questionnaires and assessments. You may not be required to disclose your disability at this stage if:

  • you can meet the requirements of the position without having to disclose
  • your disability is in remission
  • the employer does not request the information.

Your decision to disclose at this point may be limited, and potential applicants can face disciplinary actions or dismissal if they fail to disclose certain information.

On the job

People with disability must manage their conditions alongside their work and wellbeing needs.

It is not uncommon for people to re-evaluate their position on disclosure once employed. The decision can be due to an increased workload, change in environment, or progression of the disability.

You may also choose to disclose as a pro-active measure. This is where you might decide it is worth promoting the fact people with disability can do this work and there is a need to incorporate more reasonable adjustments into the workforce. 

Remember, an employee needs to have an effective plan during a crisis or evacuation of the workplace.

How and who to disclose to

The different stages listed above provide multiple opportunities and people to whom you can disclose your disability.

  • During the interview, the interviewer or panel is the most appropriate person to disclose.
  • When an offer of employment is made, you can disclose your disability to your employer, supervisor, or human resources team. Remember, the person who interviewed you may not be the most suitable person to disclose this information to.
  • As part of the onboarding – you will need to be specific in this section. 
  • On the job, you can disclose your disability to your manager or human resources department.
  • At any stage of your employment journey, it is worth checking whether your employer has a dedicated person for workplace adjustments.

What to disclose

If you disclose your condition, you decide what you want to say.

It is important to remember that your disclosure is only necessary if it will impact on your work and job role and help your employer identify any adjustments that need to be made. If you are unclear on what you would like to disclose, the team at EPIC Assist are well trained in this area and can help you navigate this stage.

Disclosure is a massive decision, and nobody understands your needs better than you. 

If you are looking for extra support staying employed or finding work with a supportive employer, contact EPIC today. 

EPIC has service centres in Queensland, Northern New South Wales, and Tasmania and is committed to helping you find and keep a job you love. 

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