A rise in disability discrimination claims from neurodivergent employees | Moorepay
November 29, 2023

A rise in disability discrimination claims from neurodivergent employees

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There has been a dramatic increase in disability discrimination claims from neurodivergent employees reaching tribunals.

Often the dispute has arisen when neurodivergent employees feel that their performance or behaviour in the workplace is being unfairly rated for reasons that relate to their condition. This highlights the need for employers to gain further awareness and understanding of such conditions and how they can ensure they are treating neurodivergent colleagues not only lawfully and fairly, but they are creating an environment that allows those employees to thrive. In addition, we have recently seen a rise in disability discrimination claims from neurodivergent employees that have reached tribunals.

What is neurodiversity? 

Neurodiversity refers to the different ways the brain can work and interpret information. It highlights that people naturally think about things differently. Most people are neurotypical, meaning that the brain functions and processes information in the way society expects. Typical neurodivergent conditions include Attention Deficit Disorders, Autism, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia.

There are observable, measurable, definite brain differences that mean certain jobs are easy and certain jobs are hard. Asking someone with a neuro minor to try harder to concentrate is the equivalent of asking a wheelchair user to try and walk more. 

We have a range of fantastic neurodiversity pieces including this webinar on how embracing neurodiversity can be an asset when working in the world of payroll.

Typically, those with a neurological condition will struggle with:  

  • memory and concentration.
  • organisation skills
  • time management
  • communication skills.

Legal requirements under the Equality Act (2010)

As neurodivergent employees will usually be classed as having a disability under the Equality Act 2010 organisations have a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments within the workplace to minimise any disadvantage to that individual.

How to support neurodivergent employees

Each individual whether they’re neurotypical or not — will work and think in different ways. Some may see their condition as an asset, some as a limitation, and others as a core part of their identity. Instead of making assumptions about how they are effective it’s more important to say how can I support you to thrive in your role? What are the things that you’re doing well? What are the things that you’re struggling with? What kind of reasonable adjustments do you require? What barriers are there on the workplace for you, how can we remove them?

Examples of adjustments to make for neurodivergent employees

  • Limiting distractions i.e implementing quite workspaces for employees with ADHD or on the autism spectrum
  • Options to communicate remotely or work from home.
  • Consider if shift patterns could be adjusted employees some may find travelling in rush hour overwhelming and would benefit from travelling outside of peak times.
  • Noise-cancelling headphones
  • Mental Health Awareness training  
  • Neurodiversity coaching
  • Providing interview questions and performance review questions in advance

Why neuro inclusion is good for business? 

  • Unique Skills and insights

No two people are the same. We all think processes information, learn and work in different ways.  Having employees that think differently can be a real asset to the business. They are often having unique and creative insights and excellent problem-solving abilities. Neurodivergent employees often have special skills in pattern recognition, memory, or mathematics.

  • Widen recruitment pool

Many organisations are struggling to recruit the required talent for their business, despite 1 in 7 people being neurodivergent, traditional recruitment methods place this group at a disadvantage meaning that some of your best candidates are not given the opportunity to demonstrate their skills. Making the process more friendly for neurodiverse candidates will help widen the recruitment pool and get you the best candidates.

Our applicant feedback and hiring templates take the pain out of recruitment when you have a wide range of applicants

  •  Improved employee engagement and retention

Developing a culture that supports all employees makes it easier for employees to ask for the adjustments they require to aid their performance. This shows that you are not only ensuring that you met your legal responsibilities, but you recognise and value the strengths that can from diversity. This helps to keep all employees engaged and improves employee retention.

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Further Advice and Support

If you have would like further assistance on creating a neurodiverse environment please call our Advice Line on 0345 073 0240 (selecting option 2 ) for more specific guidance, tailored to your individual company.   

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About the author

Gillian Smith

Gill has over 10 years HR generalist experience within the retail and industrial service sectors.Whilst providing HR support and services at the most senior levels Gill’s experience includes mergers and acquisitions, complex TUPE transfers, organisational development, and strategic change management. Gill has experience in the policy development process from design, consulting with directors and employee representatives through to implementation and delivering training workshops on the new polices. Gill currently is an HR policy consultant who services a variety of clients.

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