Staff member discloses they have a disability

The term disclosure refers to the personal decision to tell another person or institution about their disability. There is no legal obligation to disclose a disability, unless it is likely to affect their ability to meet the inherent requirements of the job, including the ability to work safely.

If or when your staff member does disclose a disability to you, it is important to remember to respect their right to privacy.

The Privacy Act 1988 requires you to respect every individual's right to privacy. Failing to protect confidential information about someone's disability may be considered discrimination, and could lead to prosecution.

You will need to consider the following:

  • if reasonable adjustments to work practices or equipment can help them to do the job
  • if other people need to be aware of this person's disability. You will need their consent (signed letter or will form part of their Accessibility Access Plan (AAP)) before disclosing their disability to other people
  • if your staff member's performance/ behaviour was called into question and prompted them to disclose.

Try and make the experience as stress-free and comfortable as possible, and remember that the employee may be feeling a fair amount of anxiety about the situation.

If you think a staff member may have a disability and it is impacting their performance you should:

  • talk to them about what you have observed in their work
  • provide specific examples
  • ask an open question to explore the issue further for example: If someone is hard of hearing, you might ask: 'I notice you have had difficulty hearing when using the phone, what can I do to help you'?
  • ask how best you can help them manage their disability (If they do disclose) and perform their role to the best of your ability.

DO NOT assume someone has a disability. Always confirm before continuing with any action