Support for Disabled and Neurodivergent Colleagues

A PDF version of this guidance is available - Guidance - Support for Disabled & Neurodivergent Colleagues

1. Introduction

The University supports the social model of disability which acknowledges the disabling impact of physical, organisational, and attitudinal barriers created and perpetuated by society. To achieve equity, we must take steps to recognise and address such barriers in order to make society more accessible and inclusive. 

It is recognised that disabled and neurodivergent colleagues may require adjustments, support or guidance to ensure as far as possible that they have equal access to everything the University has to offer.

This guide is intended to complement the wider Support for Disabled and Neurodivergent Colleagues Portal by providing more specific guidance to colleagues, starting with notifying the University of a disability through to engaging with the support mechanisms available.


2. Informing the University about a disability

The decision to inform the university of a disability is entirely voluntary, however it does help to create an optimal work environment therefore the university is committed to creating an environment in which colleagues feel confident to disclose any disability.

Notifying the University of a disability is particularly important if adjustments may be required to minimise or overcome any barriers at work. Early disclosure is recommended to support constructive dialogue and exploration of support which might be available and to ensure any identified adjustments are implemented as quickly as possible.

Furthermore, notifying a disability (or updating any other diversity information colleague records – see below) helps the University to monitor, evaluate and improve our colleague experience and to better assess the impact of our policies and processes on different groups.

More detailed information on how colleague data will be processed can be found in our Privacy Notice.


3. How to disclose a disability

Colleagues may notify the University about their disability status during the recruitment process however other circumstances may arise where a colleague wishes to notify a disability during the course of employment (e.g. recent discovery of a disability or following a period of absence).

Colleagues wishing to update their disability status (or any other diversity information) can find further information in the process note in the Systems Guidance section. 

4. Discussing and identifying adjustments

Line managers have a key responsibility for colleagues’ well-being and ensuring that all colleagues have access to the full range of opportunities associated with their roles. Discussion should take place as appropriate to explore any barriers that an individual may face in the workplace and to identify any potential adjustments which may aid in removing identified barriers in order to create an optimal work environment.

Line managers will naturally hold varying levels of experience or knowledge on any specific disability and disabled or neurodivergent colleagues are likely to be one of the best sources of information with regards to the impacts and barriers they encounter (although further advice may also be sought). With this in mind, colleagues should prepare for any discussion by considering in advance what they wish to share, with a view to supporting their manager to understand their perspective, experience and barriers faced. Individuals may also be able to signpost to other publicly available resources (e.g. online) to support their manager in understanding the impacts and barriers they face. It may also be appropriate for colleagues to seek advice from their own Doctor/GP/Consultant and to share any relevant advice they have received with their manager if they are comfortable in doing so.

The Considering Adjustments guidance is intended to support constructive dialogue in this area and the wider Support for Disabled and Neurodivergent Colleagues Portal links to other resources which may be relevant, including examples of common adjustments. The optional Reasonable Adjustment Passport(see below) has been designed to record agreed adjustments but can also be helpful to inform discussion.

Dialogue with line managers can often be all that is required to identify adjustments however further support and advice is available where this is required. This may typically be through self-referral to the Government Access to Work Scheme or the University Occupational Health Service.




5. Access to Work Scheme

Colleagues should also consider the Government’s Access to Work scheme. This is a self-referral service which can support individuals in securing additional support at work (including mental health support) if the required help cannot be secured through reasonable adjustments. Individuals will refer to this service (if applicable) at the earliest possible point to ensure that adjustments or supports can be arranged as soon as possible. This may be after having dialogue with their line manager however this is not essential in order to access the service. Access to Work may also provide specific advice/guidance, even where individuals are not eligible for direct support or funding. Further information can be found in the Access to Work information sheet.


6. Occupational Health

Line managers may also opt to make a referral to the University’s Occupational Health Service to obtain further specific advice, depending on the circumstances. Occupational Health can advise on the work-related impacts or barriers a disabled individual may face, including whether or not workplace adjustments may be appropriate.

Colleagues should always be consulted prior to any referral to Occupational Health and further information on the Occupational Health Referral process can be found in Guidance – Occupational Health Referrals.

Line managers should consider any Occupational Health recommendations and implement any agreed adjustments in a timely manner. It may be necessary to experiment with different adjustments or supports to identify the most effective approach or arrangement.

Colleagues should work with their line managers to then review the effectiveness of any adjustments and should feed back their views (particularly if adjustments become less or effective or need to be reviewed). 

7. The Reasonable Adjustment Passport

The University has designed a Reasonable Adjustment Passport to serve as a live record of adjustments agreed and discussed between colleagues and their line managers. It can be used in a number of ways – to record adjustments already discussed and in place; to facilitate discussion about what adjustments might be possible; or to review and make changes to agreed adjustments. The passport can be particularly helpful to aid sharing, with the relevant colleagues consent, of their adjustments with others who need to know (a common example being a new line manager).

Use of the passport is optional and colleagues can save or store their passports where they see fit, including (but not required) on their own staff record (visible to just them and their manager, see Uploading documents to your profile).

Further information can be found on the Reasonable Adjustment Passportand its privacy notice contains more information on how its data is processed. It is recommended that colleagues using the form consider ‘data minimisation’ and record only the details required to support the effective exploration and implementation of adjustments rather than recording specific medical/health information.




8. Data Protection & Confidentiality

Any information shared with the university will be kept strictly confidential, stored securely and handled in accordance with our privacy notice. The Reasonable Adjustment Passport privacy notice also outlines how specific information is processed when captured on the passport itself.

Similarly, any information shared through dialogue with line managers should be held in strict confidence and all parties should be mindful of data minimisation, discussing and/or recording only the information required (e.g. to implement effective adjustments).



9. Additional Support

The Support for Disabled and Neurodivergent Colleagues Portal contains further resources which may be helpful, including examples of common adjustments.

Support is also available via the HR Helpdesk or via the relevant local People & Organisational Development Team.