Dyslexia in the Workplace: A Summary for Employers.
Dyslexia is a recognised difficulty under Equality Act 2010, replacing the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. This means that employers should ensure that disabled people are not treated unfavourably and are offered reasonable adjustments or support.
Many people in the workplace have not been diagnosed with dyslexia. Some may even be unaware that they have dyslexic difficulties. Others will have been assessed at some point, possibly at school, but prefer to keep things under wraps for fear of discrimination.
There is no legal requirement to disclose a disability. However once the employer has been informed of an employee’s dyslexia or been given a copy of an assessment report, they are on notice that they have a duty under the Equality Act.
When things go wrong.
The BDA Helpline receives numerous calls from distressed employees with dyslexic difficulties.
Common issues are:
- not receiving the appropriate reasonable adjustments.
- and/or are being harassed or unsupported by line managers or colleagues.
Disciplinary proceedings around performance issues are frequently dyslexia related. Many are off sick with stress as a result. In many circumstances they could seek redress under the Equality Act in an Employment Tribunal.
Stage 1: Organising an Assessment.
A full understanding of the individual’s profile is necessary in order to offer the most effective support. Where an employee has not been previously assessed for dyslexic difficulties (post 16 years), the first step would be for the employer to arrange for the employee to have a full diagnostic assessment. Dyslexia is a complex area of difficulty and no two people have the same profile of strengths and weaknesses or levels of severity.
However in the case of a job not involving significant paperwork, a screening test such as the one linked to our website may be sufficient. This test is 90% accurate in predicting dyslexia.
Funding. Unfortunately dyslexia is not funded by the NHS and does not form part of medical training. A full diagnostic assessment should by carried out by Chartered Psychologists specialising in adult dyslexia. The cost could be around £500 or more. The test takes around 3 hours and is followed by a full written report. It would not normally be possible to arrange this inside a month.
Most large employers and those in the public sector would be expected to fund a dyslexia assessment for an employee as part of their duty under the Equality Act.
A small employer may help with the cost.
For recommendations of appropriate psychologists for a diagnostic assessment, contact your nearest Local Dyslexia Association For recommendations in London or any other area not covered by our local groups, please contact the Helpline on 0845 251 9002 or email: email@example.com
Stage 2: Workplace Assessment.
Following the diagnostic assessment, (or where an employee is able to show an existing adult assessment report), a workplace assessment should be arranged with a dyslexia specialist. This will detail the most appropriate accommodations and support, (reasonable adjustments) that would be successful in mitigating any weak areas and reduce stress. This is not something that either the individual or the employer would be able to work out for themselves. An assessment of reasonable adjustments should be carried out via a workplace assessment from a dyslexia workplace consultant.
How to organise a Workplace Assessment.
Workplace assessments can normally be obtained from Access to Work, part of the Jobcentre organisation; (Access to Work do not usually require a full diagnostic assessment report in order to support an employee with dyslexia, but to enable the workplace assessor to have a full understanding of the individual’s dyslexic profile, a full assessment report is often desirable).
It is important to request an assessment from a qualified workplace dyslexia specialist, as sometimes Access to Work subcontract to inappropriate assessors.
The application to Access to Work should be made by the employee. The employee can find information on this process on Dyslexia Support in the Workplace
Independent dyslexia workplace consultants can also be appointed to do an assessment. Their report can still be submitted to Access to Work for the grant to the individual for items and training recommended.
For advice on independent assessors, contact the BDA Helpline or Local Dyslexia Associations.
Access to Work does not service Whitehall government departments: independent workplace assessors are required. Contact the BDA Helpline for suggestions.
Stage 3: Implementing Reasonable Adjustments.
Reasonable Adjustments should be put in place as soon as possible. Failure to implement Reasonable Adjustments would be a breach of the Equality Act. Reasonable Adjustments are not a quick overnight remedy. Depending on the individual circumstances, it may take 2 or 3 months for measures to become embedded and for any associated training and learning to become effective. For optimum performance an individual will need to have the support of colleagues and line managers: dyslexia awareness training is essential. Dyslexic employees can be particularly prone to stress and this will exacerbate dyslexic difficulties. Where well supported, these difficulties will be less prominent.
The employer would find it helpful to purchase the BDA Code of Practice for Employers, which offers detailed practical and useful guidelines in supporting dyslexic employees. This can do this via the BDA online shop.