Managing an Invisible Disability at Work

Written by CWD Editor
Last updated Monday November 16 2020

There are an estimated 3.8 million disabled people in employment in the UK. As 96% of illnesses are not visible, the amount of people with invisible disabilities is likely to be a large proportion of that sum.

Living with an invisible disability can create additional challenges and hurdles to overcome in everyday life. This can be especially apparent within the workplace.

No matter what invisible disability you live with, be that depression, a learning disorder or a health condition like arthritis, it is essential you feel comfortable and supported within your employment. With this in mind, we have compiled some simple steps to provide a helping hand.

1. First and foremost, it is crucial to know your rights within the workplace.

The Equality Act 2010 is in place to protect you against discrimination because of your disability, alongside making it a legal requirement for your employer to make any reasonable adjustments to accommodate your needs. There are many government schemes and funding to assist with this, including Access to Work. This scheme covers the cost of any adjustments needed within your workplace.

To find out more, visit our dedicated guide on grants and funding.

2. Inform your boss about your disability.

To make reasonable adjustments to improve your working environment, your employer must be aware of your disability. It is essential to be open and transparent with your situation to ensure your employer understands your situation and needs.

Understandably this may feel very daunting. However, if you don’t feel comfortable going to your boss, consider discussing it with your HR manager beforehand. They may be able to provide some support and importantly, help you with communicating your needs to your boss.

3. Once you have disclosed your disability, make sure to request accommodations if you need them.

The type of adjustments will depend on your disability, but examples could include:

  • An ergonomic chair

This could be relevant for people who have arthritis, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, repetitive stress injuries and other mobility-related disabilities.

  • A different desk layout

This could be relevant for people who have attention deficit disorders, helping to remove the number of distractions in the workplace.

  • Adjusted lighting

This could be beneficial for someone who has a visual impairment or epilepsy.

  • Modification to your schedule

This could include having more frequent breaks, beneficial to people who have Chron’s, diabetes, chronic fatigue, cystic fibrosis and more. Other modifications could consist of overall working hours. People with depression may struggle with mornings so could benefit from starting later in the day alongside providing flexibility for individuals to attend any medical appointments.

  • Assistive technologies

This could include the likes of screen enlargers and speech recognition systems to aid people with visual impairments or mobility-related disabilities.

4. Keep an open dialogue with your employer.

Over time your needs and requirements may change concerning your disability. It is essential to communicate with your employer so they can make any changes needed if necessary. Managing an invisible disability in the workplace is no easy task, but hopefully, these simple steps will help you work towards a comfortable environment in which you can thrive.

For more help and guidance regarding disabilities in the workplace, visit our Careers with Disabilities homepage.

Last Updated: Monday November 16 2020

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