You don’t have to tell your employer about your impairment or condition. You might want to do this if you need support to do your job. This could be because your condition or something at work has changed. 

Disabled people can experience discrimination at work, but talking with your employer could help you to get the support you need to do your job. 

Once your employer knows you are disabled, they must consider your request for support under the 2010 Equality Act. This means that if you want adjustments at work, you need to tell your employer about your impairment or condition. 

Read about reasonable adjustments at work.

If you’ve just been diagnosed

Getting a diagnosis is often a difficult time. Being diagnosed doesn’t mean that anything needs to change for you at work. Don’t make snap decisions based on what you read online about your condition. Get an assessment to find out how it might affect your work. This should be someone with experience of helping disabled people to stay in work. This is called vocational rehabilitation.

Getting assessed for reasonable adjustments.

Deciding when to talk about disability

Talk to your employer about your impairment if you’re worried that you can’t do your job now or that something might change in the future. 

Monitor how your condition affects you and how you perform in your job. If you can, talk to your manager before they notice that something’s changed. If your employer does notice before you choose to speak to them, arrange a meeting as soon as you can. Explain what’s happening for you, and that you hadn’t realised that it was affecting your performance at work. If you're not confident talking to your line manager on your own, ask for someone to come with you. This could be a union representative or someone you work with.

Make it clear to your employer that you want to talk about how you can make things work together. Try to avoid a situation where your employer doesn’t know that you’re disabled, and just thinks that you can’t do your job. HR departments sometimes call this a 'performance' or 'capability' issue. 

You shouldn't do anything at work that puts you or the people you work with at risk.

Explaining why you haven't talked about your condition yet 

If you’ve been in your job a while, you may be concerned about explaining why you haven’t 'disclosed' your impairment earlier. You should feel under no pressure to do this, but it may help to plan what you're going to say. For example: 
  • your condition has recently changed, and it is only now that it is affecting your work  
  • your work has changed – it wasn't a problem before, but now it is 
  • you've only just felt able to talk about your condition. 

Talking about funding for adjustments

Think about what kind of reasonable adjustments would help you do your job. For example, an adapted desk, an ergonomic keyboard or flexible working. Access to Work can help to pay for adjustments. If you don't know what you need, Access to Work can also pay for assessments.  

Read more about reasonable adjustments at work 

Getting emotional support

Realising that you might need changes or support at work, or that you might not be able to do your job, can be a big shock. It can be an emotional and life-changing experience. You may also be worrying about what your colleagues think. 

If you can get some support outside of work, it will help you to take positive steps at work. You may be able to get some support from other organisations through your employer.

Get as much support as you need from your support network. Some organisations can also offer support: 

If your employer rejects adjustments at work

Employers must look at the benefit of adjustments to the disabled person. If they reject a request, they must say why.

Need employment advice?

Support for disabled people looking for a job, online, by phone, Skype or text message.

Employment information supported by Virgin Media

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We're working with Virgin Media to support 1 million disabled people in getting into and staying in work by the end of 2020.