Dyslexia Support in the Workplace
If an employee is struggling with performance or other issues in their job which may be a result of dyslexic difficulties, they would be advised to arrange a confidential meeting with an appropriate person in their organisation, such as H.R. Equality and Diversity, Occupational Health or a manager. Appropriate assessments should be arranged to determine how they can be best supported. There may be a number of effective ‘reasonable adjustments’ which can be put in place to help.
When to disclose dyslexia.
Some people diagnosed with mild dyslexic difficulties may not have disclosed this at the recruitment stage and prefer to see how the job goes. This may be fine, but there may come a point where coping strategies start to falter and help is required to support performance and avoid undue stress.
Common situations where disclosure is a good idea.
A job description may change to include areas which are more problematic, or a new line manager introduces working practices which are less dyslexia friendly. Promotion may lead to more report writing and greater organisational demands, and these may need to be supported by assistive software and strategy training. There may also be (dyslexia unfriendly) tests for promotion.
Poor performance may be dyslexia related.
A high proportion of people in the workplace has never been assessed as having dyslexic difficulties, and may be unaware that their weak areas are more than just personal failings. Some may not wish to disclose dyslexia and battle on at some personal cost. Where there is an issue of poor performance, a well informed employer should be alert to the possibility of underlying specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia and take appropriate steps to address the situation.
To determine the most appropriate support, (reasonable adjustments), a workplace assessment should be arranged with a dyslexia workplace consultant. This is not something that the employer or the dyslexic employee would be able to work out for themselves. An employer has a duty under the Equality Act to implement reasonable adjustments for a disability.
Where the employee does not have a diagnostic assessment report of their dyslexia, this may need to be arranged first in order to inform the workplace assessment process. See below Diagnostic Assessments.
Use of Digital Recorders.
Many people with dyslexia have difficulty with taking notes in meetings while at the same time listening and participating in the meeting. Use of a digital recorder should be regarded as a disability aid and a reasonable adjustment for a disability. See use of disability aids.
Access to Work
Where a new employee discloses dyslexic difficulties, a workplace assessment should be undertaken early on and reasonable adjustments implemented.
Part of the JobcentrePlus organisation, Access to Work offer workplace assessments and some funding for the implementation of Reasonable Adjustments. For dyslexic employees requiring a support worker, this would be 100% funded by Access to Work. Funding for equipment is now very restricted.
An employer is required to fund the cost of implementing reasonable adjustments up to a certain limit depending on the size of the organisation, and 20% of costs above this, but for small businesses and the self-employed, the recommended support is fully funded. There is no cost for the workplace assessment. Strategy training for dyslexic employees is also provided at no cost. This is a frequent recommendation from workplace assessments.
If a new employee applies to Access to Work for a workplace assessment in the first six weeks of starting a new job, there is no cost to the employer for either the workplace assessment or the implementation of reasonable adjustments.
Contacting Access to Work.
The employee should contact Access to Work personally, not the employer. They will be asked two initial screening questions as to whether they have a disability and whether this affects them at work. The answer to both of these should be Yes if the application is to succeed.
The employee will be put in touch with a local adviser. It is important to keep a note of their contact details in case of further queries.
In some areas of the country, Access to Work may not have a qualified dyslexia workplace consultant available for a dyslexia workplace assessment. In this case, the employer may wish to appoint an independent consultant. Their report can still be submitted to Access to Work for the funding to support an individual employee.
Access to Work does not service Whitehall government departments: independent workplace assessors are required. Contact the BDA Helpline for suggestions.
For full information and contact details see http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/employee-factsheet-atw.pdf
For Northern Ireland see http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/access-to-work-practical-help-at-work
In order to fully understand the employee’s dyslexic profile and levels of severity, the workplace needs assessor will normally require to see a diagnostic assessment report post 16 years from a Chartered Psychologist specialising in adult dyslexia. If an employee has not been assessed as an adult, a large employer would be expected to arrange this prior to the workplace needs assessment. See Getting an Assessment.
For the self-employed and some lower skilled jobs, Access to Work may not require a full, lengthy diagnostic assessment report prior to the workplace needs assessment.
As an alternative, Access to Work may accept the report from a good quality screening test, such as the BDA's Spot Your Potential
An employer has a duty under the Equality Act to implement reasonable adjustments, and a diagnostic assessment could be seen as part of this process. Most large employers and those in the public sector would be expected to fully fund a diagnostic assessment.