I’ve been asked a few times recently about when is the right time to disclose a disability to a potential future employer.
It’s not a straightforward question to answer, as there are several variables that need to be taken into consideration.
In this article, we will discuss the law, and then our own real-life experiences of when is the right time to mention your disability or condition.
So what does the law say about telling a future employer about a disability?
The Equality Act (2010) protects everyone from discrimination and has a section on disability.
No employer, present or future, can discriminate against you because of your disability. This means, if you declare your disability, it should not affect their decision when considering you for the role.
Potential employers can ask you some questions about reasonable adjustments or support you might need for the interview or if you get the job.
They may also ask you questions for them to monitor their diversity and inclusion stats. It’s important to know that you do not have to answer these questions if you don’t want to.
Your employee must provide reasonable adjustments to enable you to attend the interview and to do your job comfortably and safely if you get the role.
Unfortunately, in real life, we see this acted out a little differently.
Conscious or unconscious bias does affect whether someone is selected for an interview and offered a job.
So when should you tell someone you have a disability or condition that might affect how you work?
Based on our experience, there is no reason why you would need to mention a disability or condition on a CV. Your CV should be focused on why you are right for the job and the impact you are going to have on the organisation should you get the job.
You may decide to include your disability on a cover letter, but don’t feel you have to. Again, our advice is to focus on why you are the right person for the job.
You may decide to let your recruitment consultant know and, if they seem reasonable, you can ask their advice based on each company they discuss with you when might be the right time to disclose your disability. Be aware that a recruiter needs your permission to make any potential employer aware of your disability or condition.
If your disability means that you will need the company to make some adjustments at the interview stage, such as making sure you can access the building, office and interview room, then make the company aware when they invite you for the interview.
If you don’t have these considerations, then our advice is to wait until the first discussion with the hiring manager.
Be open, succinct and clear and confident about what support you need to help you do the job to the best of your ability.
You should never feel worried about telling an employer about your disability. The interview is a two-way street and is your opportunity to work out if they are the right company for you.
The right company will say ‘thanks for letting us know, yes we can support you. Please, can you tell us about your experience?” If they don’t respond in this way, then perhaps they are not the company for you.
Finally, you could decide to wait until you have been in the job a few days or weeks before disclosing your disability to your manager or HR to see if, in fact, you need any arrangements or support at all. It is entirely up to you, but we would advise you to have the conversation during the interview process. The last thing you want is to find out a few weeks in that the company is not the place you thought it was.
If you’re unsure or would like to talk through what you might say, then please just call us or use the Live Chat. We are here to help.