What counts as a disability?
The Equality Act 2010 considers someone to be disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
Making a decision to disclose a disability or not is a personal and individual one and there are often several things to explore when making this decision.
Reasons why you might choose to disclose
You should consider disclosing a disability when applying for further study, work placements, volunteering and jobs.
- prevents you from having to hide any difficulties you might have
- explains limited work experience or gaps in your education
- ensures you are protected by the Equality Act
- presents your disability in a positive light
- enables an employer to make any relevant adjustments in the workplace prior to your work-based placement
Disclosing your disability
Disclosing your disability ensures you receive protection under the law. Under the Equality Act, it is unlawful for an employer to treat a disabled applicant or employee less favourably, and they must make any reasonable adjustments as necessary.
Commons reasons for non-disclosure
Some people are reluctant to disclose their disability because they
- fear discrimination, either during recruitment or once in employment
- feel their disability does not affect their ability to do the job
- worry that the employer will focus on their disability and make wrong assumptions about them
- do not want to discuss their disability with a stranger
You can disclose a disability at various stages in recruitment
You can disclose your disability
at the application stage
when invited for interview, during the interview, after a job offer, before starting a job and any time after starting the job. You should fill in any medical questionnaire honestly. If you give false information, you may be at risk of losing your job. If your disability has health implications, your employer needs to know. If you do not disclose a disability when prompted to do so on a form, you may not have protection under the Equality Act.
How to disclose
- focus on the positive and highlight the coping strategies you have developed
- give examples of how you have met your challenges in the past
- discuss your disability in terms of its relevance to your ability to do the job
It is advisable to disclose a disability in a covering letter rather than within a CV at the application stage. A prepared script may be helpful if disclosing at interview. Taking details of the Access to Work Scheme and being prepared to make suggestions about reasonable adjustments can help to inform and educate the employer.
What you can do about discrimination
Anyone who discriminates against you is breaking the law. At every stage, keep a written record of discussions, and keep letters and emails.
There are professionals who can support and advise you if you feel you have a case for discrimination, including:
- Advisers from the Careers and Employability Service
- Disability employment advisers at Jobcentre Plus
- Citizens Advice Bureau
If you feel you have been discriminated against as an employee, it is usually best to make an informal complaint first to your line manager or HR. Seek advice from your trade union if you are a member.
Many employers are very positive about equality and diversity and some have positive action schemes which we can direct you to.
Find out more and talk to us
Come and see us to discuss whether to disclose your disability and how to do it effectively.
We offer confidential one-to-one appointments at both campuses, as well as appointments by phone, email and Skype. We recommend accessing support as soon as you can:
Phone: 0114 225 3752