Finding suitable work can be a challenge for most people, but for disabled people there are often additional aspects to be considered, both in terms of accessing the recruitment process on an equal basis, and also in terms of the nature of the role itself. Asking for what you want or need is important.
There are a number of things that disabled candidates are allowed to ask for. In law (Equality Act 2010), employers must provide ‘reasonable adjustments’ requested by disabled applicants which will help them access the recruitment process. The definition of ‘reasonable’ is open to interpretation (and case law), but can include a range of measures, including (depending on circumstances):
- A British Sign Language interpreter;
- Additional time to answer questions;
- Relevant assistive technology for assessment tests;
- An accessible venue for interviews;
- Prior knowledge of the type of questions to be asked.
Don’t be afraid to ask for relevant adjustments you need. If you don’t, you may be less able to demonstrate your true abilities. For example, if you would normally use assistive technology to use a computer in the workplace, this should be provided if you are given a test on a computer at interview.
When you are offered a job, you can then request any reasonable adjustments you require to carry out the job. Access to Work support can include:
- adaptations to the equipment you use
- special equipment or software
- British Sign Language interpreters and video relay service support, lip speakers or note takers
- adaptations to your vehicle so you can get to work
- taxi fares to work or a support worker if you cannot use public transport
- a support worker or job coach to help you in your workplace
- a support service if you have a mental health condition
- disability awareness training for your colleagues
- the cost of moving your equipment if you change location or job
In addition to the ‘standard’ reasonable adjustments, it may be you have requirements for a particular way of working. Many disabled people would prefer to work part time, or flexible hours, or to work from home for all or part of the time. When looking for jobs, most are still advertised as full time. For some (few) roles, one full time person may be ideal, but for many roles, those hours and/or tasks could be divided between two or more people. Or it may be that some or all of the role could be carried out remotely.
If you find a role that you know you could do, and that you like the look of, there is nothing to stop you asking if the role could be considered for job share, reduced hours, remote or flexible working. The absolute worst that can happen is that they say no – nothing is lost. And it brings your skills to their attention should other roles be available now or in the future. Quite often, however, the employer may well be willing to look at alternative working patterns, especially if you have the skills they need.
Ask for what you need – after all, what do you have to lose?
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