Sharing information about access requirements

Summary of topics

  • Knowing when people need adjustments
  • When people with disability need to share access requirements
  • Reasons to share access requirements
  • Changes to usual work health and safety practices
  • Reasons not to share information
  • The importance of understanding your obligations

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Most people with disability only require minimal accessibility changes in the workplace. Some people don't require any changes at all. This is much the same for all your employees. Some may need ergonomic chairs or a telephone headset to do their job to the best of their ability. Good HR practice ensures that all employees work, health, and safety needs are met. When people with disability do need changes, employers have a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments. To help foster a relationship that encourages the sharing of the information with your employee, discussions must be respectful and non-discriminatory. There is no legal obligation for an employee with disability to share information about their disability unless it affects their ability to carry out the inherent requirements of the job. If you are asking the question, make sure you clearly explain why you're asking the question. Reasons for sharing information might include implications for workplace safety, the need for physical adjustments, or assisted technology in the workplace, or when an employee requests flexible work hours, or opportunities to work off-site. As an employer, you may also recognise where changes are required for your usual work, health, and safety practises. You should also be aware of workplace culture to ensure employees with disability are treated as equals in the workplace and have the same opportunities as those without disability. Determining if workplace changes are needed should be done in consultation with the individual concerned, depending on what information the person has shared. There are many reasons why employees with disability may choose not to share information about the individual workplace requirements, ranging from privacy reasons, to fear of discrimination. Some forms of disability are not as obvious as others, and this may impact an employee's willingness to share details. For example, a person with a mental health condition may be concerned about stigma or discrimination, or the condition may be episodic and include periods of good health, broken by periods of illness or disability. Other non-visible disabilities include back injury, vision or hearing impairment, arthritis, and medical conditions such as diabetes. Whatever the case, employers should respect an employee's decision not to share information about their disability. Understanding your obligations and responsibilities will help to encourage employees to be open with you, including those with disability. Disability training for staff and well thought out policies and procedures can make all the difference. It is also critical to respect employees right to privacy, and to protect any information disclosed about a person's disability. More information about privacy is available from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

Knowing what is legally required, and people’s right to share or not share information about disability, is important in respecting their right to privacy.

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