How To Disclose a Disability to Your Employer

When to Disclose Your Disability. There is no one “right” time or place to disclose your disability. Select a confidential place in which to disclose, and allow enough time for the person to ask questions.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which went into effect on July 26, 1990, is a piece of law that aims to improve the lives of people with disabilities by defending their rights to access employment, public services, transportation, public accommodations, and commercial facilities, as well as telecommunications. It enables those with disabilities to compete on an equal footing for jobs and receive the accommodations and security they require to do so.

Do you know what steps to take to get the process started if you need accommodations at work due to a disability? Disclosure is the first, and sometimes most challenging, step. Just thinking about this can often cause anxiety and stress. So what exactly is disclosure?.

Disclosure is the act of revealing or disseminating private information about a disability. It is crucial that the employee disclose the nature of the disability, the restrictions it entails, and how it affects their capacity to learn and/or perform their duties efficiently. When an employee requests accommodations, the employer has a legal obligation to determine whether a disability is present. It can be difficult to decide whether, when, and how to disclose disability-related information to a potential or current employer. When disclosing a disability, there is no one method that is always right or wrong. Answering a number of personal questions during the disability disclosure decision-making process is necessary, and the questions may vary depending on the employment experience Questions like “Do I have to disclose?” “When is the right time?” “How much medical information will I have to provide?” and “How will disclosing the information affect my employment” are just a few examples.

When should I disclose a disability?

Why some employees don’t disclose a disability

The diversity of disabilities results in a wide range of workplace experiences, and the decision of whether to disclose a disability can be very personal. Understanding people’s reasons for choosing not to disclose a disability can be helpful before examining reasons why it may be necessary to do so.

According to Amira Sounny-Slitine, a hiring specialist at Indeed Hire, “People with invisible disabilities, in particular, are often reluctant to disclose their disability to coworkers or their managers.” Many people decide against disclosing their disabilities because they don’t want to face discrimination in their professional relationships. Others don’t want to appear less competent than their peers. Many people worry that if they reveal this information, others will view them differently or have different expectations of them. When a disability is disclosed, there may be unfavorable effects such as poor treatment at work or being perceived as making excuses. ”.

Indeed career coach Emma Esparza recalled working with a candidate who had severe autism. In the end, he made the decision, but we decided not to tell him right away because he could reasonably deal with it. Based on my knowledge and his prior interviews, we determined the key areas that might be challenging for him, and we concentrated on practicing for them. ” .

Why should I tell my employer about my disability?

You may decide to let your employer know if you have a disability for the following reasons:

To request reasonable accommodations

Both job candidates and employees have the right to ask for “reasonable accommodations” when disclosing a disability. For instance, a deaf candidate might ask for a sign language interpreter at a job interview. Other examples of accommodation requests include the option to work from home, modified work schedules (such as scheduling tasks around physical therapy appointments), a quiet workspace or headphones to eliminate distractions, and modifications to management styles (such as written instructions from a manager who would typically be more hands-off).

To explain an unusual circumstance

It may be preferable for someone with an invisible disability, such as Crohn’s disease, to never disclose it to their coworkers, but it may be necessary to do so to explain frequent bathroom breaks during team meetings or a hospital stay every few years. It can be as simple as privately discussing the challenges you face because of your medical condition with your supervisor if all you’re looking for is understanding rather than accommodations. You don’t even have to mention the ADA or describe your symptoms in detail.

Additionally, hiding a disability can drain your mental resources, which can lower your energy and productivity. Some people decide to disclose to their close coworkers in order to lessen this burden, or after they’ve established a rapport with their boss. Ask those you do tell to keep your disability a secret if you don’t want the entire office to be aware of it.

According to research done by the Job Accommodation Network, a service of the Office of Disability Employment Policy of the U.S. Department of Labor, employers can benefit more than they might pay for providing accommodations for disabled employees. S. Department of Labor. According to the study, making accommodations had advantages such as helping businesses improve their diversity and retaining valuable staff members while also increasing productivity and morale. Most accommodations cost these employers little to nothing.

What is considered a disability in the workplace?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a disability is any physical or mental impairment that significantly interferes with one or more major life activities, such as working or performing manual labor. Deafness, blindness, missing or non-functioning limbs, cancer, diabetes, asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, arthritis, obsessive-compulsive disorder, HIV, depression, and asthma are just a few of the disabilities listed by the ADA.

According to the World Health Organization, which is cited in the World Bank’s World Report on Disability, one billion people worldwide, or 15% of the population, are estimated to have a disability. However, statistics in the workplace are challenging to measure because many workers either fail to disclose a disability when they are hired or develop one after several years of employment. Because they don’t think their disability affects their ability to work or are forbidden from disclosing it, employees might choose not to report a disability.

How to tell an employer about a disability

It can be just as frightening to request a raise as it is to disclose to an employer something as personal as a disability. To reduce stress, emailing your employer to explain your disability and any work accommodations you might need is a good option. It also serves as official correspondence so that this disclosure is documented for both you and your employer. Instead of just stating a problem to your employer, demonstrate your initiative by outlining potential solutions. You could, for instance, ask for time off for meetings, working from home, a lateral move, or an ergonomic chair. Then, ask your employer for input. They may have solutions you’re not aware of. You can also be proactive by attaching medical documentation.

Additionally, it’s critical to be ready for any inquiries that your employer may have. Before revealing your disability, prepare a list of questions to be answered, and before listing job duties you find difficult to perform due to your health, come up with solutions that will let you continue working and have little to no cost.

When to disclose a disability to your employer

The decision for those with visible disabilities isn’t always whether or not to disclose them, but rather when is the best time to do so. The timing is frequently up to you if you have an invisible disability, though. According to Sounny-Slitine, “I usually say it depends on the person — some people want to be upfront, but some people want to be on a level playing field.” Before performance issues arise, or at least before they get too serious, employees should disclose a disability and request accommodations. ”.

You can disclose a disability:

Example conversations about an employee disability

Think about the following instances to help you decide how to talk to your employer about a disability:

Example: Disclosing a stutter before a job interview

Example: Requesting a modification because of a family member’s disability

Example: Disclosing a chronic illness via email

Example: Escalating a request when an employer doesn’t timely respond

Frequently asked questions about disclosing a disability in the workplace

Do I have to disclose my disability?

No. For affirmative action purposes, many job applications ask applicants if they have a disability; however, if the question makes you uncomfortable, you are not required to respond. However, an employer may request that you describe or demonstrate how you would go about performing job-related tasks.

What might be considered a reasonable accommodation?

Providing or changing equipment, altering work schedules, changing training materials or policies, supplying readers and interpreters, and ensuring that the workplace is accessible to those with disabilities are some examples.

How much medical information am I required to provide?

Your employer may request medical records in support of your accommodation request, such as a note from your doctor attesting to your limitations or restrictions and stating that you are in need of a reasonable accommodation.


When to tell an employer you have a disability?

A person is generally exempt from disclosing a disability under the ADA unless accommodations are required. Employees should ideally disclose their disabilities and request reasonable accommodations before performance issues arise, or at the very least, before they get too serious.

How do you handle disclosing disability?

In a nutshell, JAN says, your letter should:
  1. Identify yourself as a person with a disability.
  2. If you’re a federal employee, you should instead mention the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 when requesting accommodations.
  3. Describe the specific job tasks that are problematic.

Should you disclose a disability during an interview?

Even if they subsequently require a workplace accommodation, applicants are not required to disclose a disability at the time of their application for a job. Before disclosing, they might hold off until they’re actually looking for housing, which could be months or years from now.

What does it mean to disclose a disability?

Making a disability disclosure entails informing a current or prospective employer of your condition. Before making a job offer, your employer has no right to inquire about your disability during the hiring process.

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