Supporting staff with disability
An individual’s experience or the level of support they require will determine how you will manage an employee with a disability. Not every person with a disability will require specific management or help. If an employee chooses to disclose their disability it is important to ask what support they may require.
What is Disability
Disability may be temporary or permanent and is not necessarily visible. Disabilities may include, but are not limited to: (provided by the Department of Education, Skills, and Development (2020)):
- Hard of hearing/deaf
- Physical disability
- Intellectual disabilities
- Specific learning disability (SLD)
- Mental health conditions
- Acquired brain injury (ABI)
- Low vision/blind
- Medical condition (temporary / permanent)
- Neurological conditions (e.g. ASD, ADD, ADHD)
- Other disability
A staff member may choose to disclose they have a disability, but not the details of the disability. They only need to disclose how their disability might impact their ability to do the required tasks (so that Reasonable Adjustments could be considered) or if it affects their ability to work safely, or compromises the safety of others. A staff member should never be requested to disclose their diagnosis.
For further information on Disclosure, see - Disclosure and workplace adjustments
Reasonable workplace adjustments
A staff member who has disclosed they have a disability, illness, or medical condition, may require Reasonable Workplace Adjustments to their work environment or position responsibilities, although not everyone requires adjustments. Reasonable workplace adjustments may be administrative, environmental or procedural, temporary or long-term changes.
As a manager you should:
- Familiarise yourself with the University’s confidentiality requirements, especially in relation to the disclosure of a health condition/ disability.
- Be mindful that staff are not required to disclose their disability/ diagnosis. The best approach would be to ask staff ‘what do you need to complete your work tasks/ how can I support you?’
- Familiarise yourself with the University’s Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) 2020 - 2024
- Understand responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
- Familiarise yourself with relevant University policies and procedures.
- Familiarise yourself with the University’s inclusive language guidelines
- All employees should be held to the same work standards and expectations, regardless of whether they have a disability or not.
- Be aware that the same work outcomes might be achieved in different ways.
- Review and assess a staff member’s performance according to outcomes as well as the person's ability to undertake the inherent job requirements.
- Ensure your staff member has access to learning and development opportunities, which are accessible in light of the nature of their disability, and is provided with the necessary information and resources to do their job.
- Be sensitive about a staff member’s abilities without lowering your expectation of performance standards.
- Any Reasonable Adjustments requested should be considered, and when appropriate implemented promptly so the employee can do their job to the best of their ability.
- If you do have concerns, make sure you address the situation early. Talk to the staff member to find out if they are aware that your expectations are not being met.
- Identify any problem areas and provide opportunities to improve.
Related policies, documents and guidelines
Further information and support for managers