Disclosure refers to the personal decision to tell another person or institution about a disability.
There is no legal obligation for an employee to disclose their disability, unless it is likely to affect their ability to meet the inherent requirements of the job.
The inherent requirements of the job are tasks that must be carried out in order to get the job done. Not all of the requirements of a job will be inherent and the focus should be on achieving results rather than the means for achieving those results.
Once an employee has disclosed a disability, the employer is then required to consider appropriate responses, including training or work related adjustments, to accommodate the person with disability. Remember that state and federal laws prohibit discriminating against someone because of disability.
Choosing to disclose
When, how and if a person with disability chooses to disclose is often affected by factors such as:
- the type of disability
- the type of employment opportunity
- whether the disability is visible or not and how this might affect the prospective employer's judgment of the person's ability to perform particular duties
- the need for workplace adjustments or supports
- the attitudes of the interviewers, co-workers or managers.
Your disability (physical, psychological, illness, medical condition) may not be affecting your job performance or the way you do your job, therefore it may not be relevant for your manager to know.
However, if your work performance is now suffering because something in your work environment is contributing to or exacerbating your disability, you should discuss this with your manager. At this point in time you may need disclose to your manager that you have a disability so the appropriate adjustments can be put in place.
Once you disclose, you and your manager can work together to:
- identify the areas of work that are attributable to the aggravation of your disability
- identify the need for adjustments to your work environment. Examples of this can include:
- revisiting your work load, look at reducing time pressures, and clarify your responsibilities
- looking at the possibility of flexible working arrangements, such as part-time work or job-sharing
- arranging for a workplace assessment of your physical workplace through the staff disability support unit
- discussing using your sick leave entitlements in an appropriate manner.
It may be useful for you and your manager to develop a management plan that outlines what needs to be put in place and how it will be managed appropriately.
Note: If the adjustments made to your work environment are not helping, you need to revisit your management plan with your manager and revise as necessary.
Do not wait until things are at crisis point. It is important that you talk to your manager at the first sign that things are becoming difficult to manage and you are not coping at work. Better to be proactive and approach your manager first. Communication is key!
Regardless of whether you disclose your disability to your manager or not, it is important to seek help from your family doctor or other health provider, who can arrange for appropriate treatment if required.
Free and confidential counselling is also available through the Adviser to Staff or the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).