Sharing your disability
Advice on whether, when and how to share your disability with an employer.
When and how to ask for adjustments
You do not have to tell an employer about your disability. When you ask for reasonable adjustments during the recruitment process or at work your employer can't ask for proof that you need these adjustments. The employer is not allowed to ask for evidence that you have a disability, or to ask questions about it.
Whether or not you tell an employer about your disability is up to you. However you should ask for the adjustments that you need, to make sure you are not at a disadvantage.
There will be opportunities at each stage of the recruitment process for you to request any adjustments. When you’re considering what to do, bear these points in mind:
the sooner you ask, the sooner they will be able to put adjustments in place
if you decide not to ask for adjustments it means the employer cannot be held liable under the Equality Act 2010 for failing to make them, as they were not aware of the requirement for these
the employer should keep this information confidential so don’t worry about your new colleagues knowing unless you have made it clear that you are happy for this information to be shared
There will be an opportunity for you to ask for adjustments when you start the application process.
Most job application forms will give you the opportunity to request reasonable adjustments, usually towards the end of the form. This may be helpful during some of the initial stages of recruitment (e.g. video interviews or psychometric testing) as adjustments can be put in place to help you perform to your best.
You may decide to share your disability or health concern within your CV or cover letter – this may be to account for a period of absence from University or where you felt your disability impacted on some exam grades.
If you choose to do this, it is worthwhile booking an appointment with a Careers Consultant to ensure you are focusing on the positives of your experiences, highlighting the strengths that your condition has given you, and mentioning the talent and skills you can bring to an organisation.
You might feel that it would be more helpful to you to request adjustments before a face-to-face interaction (interview or assessment centre).
You may wish to request some additional time to think about the question the employer is asking and consider your response, or you may wish to ask for some additional breaks during a lengthy assessment centre.
You can call the company’s recruitment team or recruitment contact throughout your application to request reasonable adjustments.
You can request adjustments after you have been made an official offer of employment. You may have some specific requirements for your new work environment that will make your transition to your new role easier and to make sure you are not disadvantaged in the work place (e.g. a specialist chair or other equipment, adaptive technology or other specific arrangements).
Have a think beforehand about the types of adjustments or equipment which would be most useful to you. Once you speak to your new employer they should be able to start putting plans in place to help support you.
You may be entitled to support from Access to Work who can provide a grant to your employer to help cover the costs of practical support in the workplace. This grant is free to your employer and does not need to be paid back – have a look at their webpages for further eligibility criteria.
We work in partnership with EmployAbility, an organisation which can provide you with individualised advice and support about adjustments for recruitment and the workplace, information about your rights, and support with your applications. The EmployAbility team will also advocate for you with an employer to ensure you receive the adjustments you need, taking any stress and anxiety out of the process.
Further resources to explore:
Disclosing your disability when job hunting - Careers Service Plus article (University of Edinburgh login required)
Watch recordings of sessions delivered by EmployAbility on the following topics:
- Talking about disability with an employer: when, why and how
- Neurodiversity: managing the hidden barriers in recruitment
- Mental Health: your rights to privacy and adjustments
EmployAbility playlist of recordings (University of Edinburgh login required)
You’re welcome to book an appointment with any of our Careers Consultants to discuss your approach, at any point, during your career planning or application:
Book an appointment - via MyCareerHub