The Equality Act says there’s a duty to make reasonable adjustments if you’re placed at a substantial disadvantage because of your disability compared with non-disabled people or people who don’t share your disability.
Reasonable adjustments can help you to:
- manage workloads
- make communication with other members of staff more comfortable an
- ensure that all tasks are clearly set out
- help prevent sensory overload.
Many autistic people who are in work may not feel confident enough to ask their employer to put reasonable adjustments in place for them. Employers have a duty to ensure that the needs of their autistic employees are being met, this includes all aspects of the job whether it is around sensory issues or what the job itself entails.
Here is a list of aide examples that can be used for reasonable adjustments:
- Noise-cancelling headphones. These help to block out background noise in a busy office or warehouse
- A screen filter for a laptop or desktop PC monitor. This helps to make a screen seem less bright, minimising the risk of sensory overload
- Use of a quiet, secluded part of the workplace. This is useful for avoiding all the noise and movement that can trigger sensory overload if it gets too much
- Time management and project management apps. These can help with scheduling tasks and finding out what is happening on each day
- Instant messaging and text-to-speech apps. For those who are non-verbal or are not confident in using the phone or face-to-face conversation, these apps can help to break down communication barriers
- Ergonomic equipment such as keyboards, mice, trackpads and other tools like that can help to make an autistic employee feel more comfortable
- Flexible hours- a working pattern to suit the needs and body clock of an autistic employee
- Exemption from team meetings and social gatherings. This comes in the form of permission to miss team-building exercises, meetings, brainstorming sessions and team nights out
- Exemption from meeting clients- this is down to communication issues some autistic people face, rather than anything else
How to ask for reasonable adjustments
There are two simple ways you can request for reasonable adjustments to be put in place for you at your workplace.
- Ask your employer for a meeting to request reasonable adjustments
Before you arrange a meeting with your employer think about the following points:
- What reasonable adjustments are needed ?
- What sensory issues are experienced – light, sound, colours, space, scent, too much happening at the same time ?
- Is there any equipment available e.g. headphones, apps ?
- How much do they cost ?
After you have considered the points above, request a meeting to discuss your needs. This can be done in person or via email; it may be easier to get your points across in an email.
Once a meeting is arranged, you will have the opportunity to explain what adjustments you need to help you to do your job. Make sure you explain why you need these reasonable adjustments and relate them to autism, if possible.
- The second option is to apply for Access to Work funding
Asking for funding
You can apply for the Access to Work funding if:
- You have got an interview coming up
- You have just started a job
- You are self-employed or are in a job already
This can be done by your employer or yourself.
To do this you will need to print off a letter and hand it to your employer. Soon afterwards, an adviser will be back in touch. How long a response takes to come in depends on what adjustments are needed.
Access to Work can pay for things like travel, apps, equipment such as keyboards, awareness training for your workplace etc.
By getting equipment and support needed to make your job easier, it will benefit both you and your employer in the long run.