Disclosing your disability | Let

Disclosing your disability

Friday, August 10, 2012

Updated: 2/11/2015

This week on Let's Get Working we'll discuss disclosing your disability. To aid in our discussion, I'll be using another article 'Choosing your path, Disclosure it's a personal decision' written by Western Sydney University and the University of Ballarat. I won't be mentioning everything covered in the article because it's too big to fit in this blog post. However if you want to read the full article you can find it at Choosing your path, Disclosure it's a personal decision.

When it comes to disclosing their disability people often want to know:

Do I have to disclose my disability?

No you are not legally obligated to disclose your disability unless it will affect your ability to complete the responsibilities of the job. There are many reasons why someone may or may not disclose their disability.

The main reasons people decide to disclose their disability are:

  • To educate people on the impact of their disability
  • To discuss any required adjustments to aid in doing the jobs duties.
  • To find out what support the company provides to people with disabilities.
  • To avoid any misunderstandings later on between the employer or other employees

The main reasons people don't disclose are:

  • They can manage their disability so it won't interfere with the job.
  • They fear they will be treated differently by the employer or employees

When should I disclose my disability?

There are several times that you can disclose your disability.

  • The application
  • The interview
  • The offer of employment
  • During the job

The application stage does not normally involve disclose of your disability. The emphasis at this stage should be on your skills and experience. However if you require adjustments to be made in order to aid you during the interview and beyond, you can mention it at this stage.

During an interview it is common for people to disclose their disability. For those with an obvious disability, disclosure at an interview is inevitable. For those with a hidden disability, they can disclose straight away or wait until further into the employment process. Either way it is important to consider how you will effectively disclosure your disability to remove any negativity that may be associated with it.

Disclosing your disability once you have received an offer of employment is often the safest time to do so. The employer has decided that you are the best person for the job based on your skills and experiences, so your disability should not be an issue.

Disclosure of a disability during the job is often done as an employee's circumstances change. If it's becoming difficult for you to do your duties then you should consider telling your employer to see what they can do to aid you.

No matter when you decide to disclose your disability you should be clear about why you're disclosing your disability and what you're trying to achieve by disclosing your disability.

How should I disclose my disability and what should I say?

When disclosing your disability you should consider when you'll disclose and what you'll disclose. Those with an obvious disability should consider disclosing early. This can help prevent the interviewer from becoming distracted and focusing on their disability. Those with a hidden disability are free to disclose when they feel its best.

It is important that the information you present is clear, concise and relevant. Keep in mind it's not essential to disclose in-depth medical or personal information about your disability unless there are specific requirements that need to be addressed in the interview.

When disclosing your disability you should mention:

  • What your disability is
  • Why you have chosen to disclose your disability
  • In a positive manner, how your disability will impact on the job
  • Your strategies to manage your disability that will allow you to work effectively
  • Any work related adjustments that may be required in the job.
  • Finally emphasis that while you have limitations, you have skills and abilities that aren't affected.

What are my rights and responsibilities?

As a job seeker you have many rights and responsibilities. I have listed the important ones below, but to read a full list of your rights and responsibilities see the article HERE

As a job seeker you have a right to:

  • Have the information about your disability treated confidentially and respectfully.
  • Have a fair and equitable interview that focuses on your abilities.
  • Have appropriate work related adjustments and support in relation to your disability.
  • Be asked appropriate and respectful questions relating to your disability for the purpose of identifying work related adjustments required.

As a job seeker your responsibilities are:

  • To disclose your disability if it will impact on your work performance.
  • To Be prepared to discuss any required adjustments with the organisation, either when the position is offered or when employed in the position.
  • To be responsible for identifying appropriate and reasonable work related adjustments when negotiating with the organisation.

Until next time,

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Previous Comments

Liam from Sale posted on 12 Aug 2012
Kerry you are spot on and this is so difficult to get right. If I say from time to time my reality and yours may be different and they will be then I am seen as scary as hell and am unlikely to get hired. If I do not and subsequently am either forced to disclose decide to disclose or am found out then I am seen as a liar and I have breached some unspoken trust.That said I am of the opinion that I have done better to say that I have periodic mental health issues and be known as such and then get employed with the knowledge of my employer.When looking for my job on this basis I was repeatedly knocked back. However I have been unwell here and remain employed which is better than anywhere else I have worked. I think deciding to disclose reduced my stress too. I dont know whats right this varies so much but I am very happy to see that this is something that is being talked about.

Kerry Hespe from Harrington Park posted on 11 Aug 2012
Thanks Martha for approaching the topic of disclosing your disability. This is a difficult topic to pigeon hole as like disabilities it depends on so many external factors. Disclosing a hidden disability during the application process DOES hinder your chance of advancing to the interview stage. Having a right to have your information treated confidentially and respectfully does not translate to a guarantee the employer has an understanding of your disability and a compassion for your plight. In reality advancing to the interview stage after disclosing a disabiltiy in your initial correspondance is rare. It is human nature to favour a path well trodden opposed to breaking new ground they will advance the candidate without a disability every time if the credentials are similar. So after many attempts you learn not to disclose the disability until you actually have the job provided it is a hidden disability. This is where the fun begins. Once employed the disability presents itself and then this is seen as nondisclosure and the employer feels cheated Where do you go with that It is a very grey area and as I first said thank you for approaching this topic but I feel your article is text book writen opposed to what actually happens in the workforce where emotions and ignorance are involved.

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