How To Ask For Disability Accommodations During The Hiring Process
August 31, 2021
Navigating the workforce as a person with a disability — whether neurodivergence, physical disabilities, psychosocial disabilities — can be extremely tricky. While the laws dictating the exact nature of provisions available for candidates will differ from one country to another, the promise of equity in the workplace means that no employer can discriminate against candidates with disabilities.
Having said that, the hiring process may not feel like a level-playing field for such candidates.
Let’s understand the legalese on Disability Accommodations.
According to The Equality Act 2010, no employer can discriminate against a person because of a disability. The areas of workplace covered under the act include:
- application forms
- interview arrangements
- aptitude or proficiency tests
- job offers
- terms of employment, including pay
- promotion, transfer and training opportunities
- dismissal or redundancy
- discipline and grievances
As per this law, the employer is required to make “reasonable adjustments” so that candidates with disabilities aren’t put at a disadvantage compared to non-disabled candidates. This can feel tricky to navigate during the hiring or recruitment process, because it’s a precarious stage where you measure every word you say. But if functioning in the workplace with your disability requires some adjustments, then you are better off disclosing it & advocating for yourself.
Disclosure: What Does The Law Say?
The recruiting staff of an employer may make limited enquiries about your health or disability. You can only be asked about your health or disability:
- to help decide if you can carry out a task that is an essential part of the work
- to help find out if you can take part in an interview
- to help decide if the interviewers need to make reasonable adjustments for you in a selection process
- to help monitoring
- if they want to increase the number of disabled people they employ
- if they need to know for the purposes of national security checks
You may be asked whether you have a health condition or disability on an application form or in an interview. But this can, in no way, be used to discriminate against your candidature.
Knowing where the law stands can be helpful, but having this conversation during your hiring process can still be nerve-wracking. Disclosure about your disability is your discretion in most cases, so it really depends on how you would feel comfortable functioning in the workplace. During the recruitment phase, especially, you may have concerns about being rated lower than your peers, so we suggest going at a pace that feels comfortable to you.
How to Ask for Disability Accommodations During Your Job Search
Ask questions about the hiring process
Information is power & it can prevent you from shooting in the dark. So, before you go ahead & disclose your disability during the application process, you can ask specific questions related to the process. Many companies share their application process in detail on their websites.
For example, Deloitte UK has a detailed process for their graduate scheme recruitment. Here, they share what every stage of the recruitment & selection process entails. This can give you crucial insight into the hiring process. If you find that a particular stage of the process requires you to appear for a test that your disability makes it hard to do, you can reach out to the recruiter or the hiring manager & talk about it. Adjustments can be made for an alternative mode of assessing you for the same skillset.
Exercise your right to ask for changes to job interviews and tests if needed
You have the right to ask for changes to job interviews and tests. The rationale is that the tests are aimed at assessing your skills for the job. If the mode of conducting or format of the test can be changed so that you’re not at a disadvantage compared to the other candidates, then it’s a “reasonable adjustment.” Remember, that asking for adjustments would involve disclosing your disability. So, make sure you are comfortable with both the facets of your right to reasonable adjustments.