Managing an employee with disability

Summary of topics

  • Best practices for supervision in the workplace
  • Responsibilities of supervisors
  • Communicating with workers with disability
  • Reviewing and assessing performance
  • Addressing concerns

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You should approach the management of an employee with disability in much the same way as you would for any other employee. Like anyone else, employees with disability should have access to induction and training, clearly defined roles and responsibilities, and regular performance monitoring. However, there are some things to help supervisors to feel more confident and comfortable when interacting with staff with disability. Often the most difficult barrier for a manager or supervisor to overcome is an attitude or bias about what a person with disability can achieve. By developing the supervisors' skills, knowledge and awareness of disability, they will be able to manage employees with disability with more confidence. Supervisors also need to understand their responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act and familiarise themselves with organisational disability employment policies and procedures. There is a range of training and educational resources available to assist supervisors, including disability awareness training, specifically for managers. As with any employee, an individual's experience or the level of support they require will help to determine your supervisory style. Sometimes an employee with disability who has been out of work for a long time may be anxious when starting a new job, and may require a bit more reassurance. Never talk down to a person with disability or make assumptions about their abilities. Some employees may be significantly educated and experienced and require little supervision or direction while others may require a more hands-on approach, such as breaking large jobs down into smaller tasks by written notes, instructions or checklists. Work performance standards apply to all employees regardless or whether they have a disability or not. Review and assess an employee's performance according to outcomes as well as the person's ability to undertake the inherent job requirements. Ensure your employee has access to learning and development and is provided with all the information and resources required to do their job. Any reasonable adjustments requested should be actioned and resolved quickly so the employee with disability can do their job to their best ability. It's important to be sensitive about an employee's abilities without lowering your expectation of performance standards. If you do have concerns, make sure you address the situation early. Talk to your employee to find out if they are aware that your expectations are not being met. Identify any problem areas and provide opportunities to improve. Contact JobAccess for further information and advice.

Many people with disability won’t require any specific management or help, but some might. Find out how to create a supportive, open working environment for people with disability.

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