The following definition is summarised from the Equality Act 2010, in relation to providing employment. Disability is a ‘protected characteristic’ under the Equality Act 2010. A disabled person is a person with a disability ‘Disability’ is defined as follows: “A person has a disability for the purposes of the Act if he or she has a physical or mental impairment and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.”
Any candidate should be invited to declare any adjustments that they require at the earliest opportunity during their application process. You need to be aware that research shows that the majority of disabled candidates do not declare their impairment through a fear of discrimination in the recruitment process. As a result you need to give candidates confidence that declaring an impairment early in the process will not result in any discrimination and in fact will enable you as a prospective employer to ensure that they have the best opportunity to demonstrate their suitability for the role.
When candidates declare that they need an adjustment based on an impairment, the first thing you should do is to ask them what they consider a reasonable adjustment would be. They will be most familiar with the best way of dealing with their impairment. In many cases, this will lead to a very straightforward adjustment, which will be appropriate for the candidate and enable you to get a reasonable assessment of their capabilities. You can find more information on our page about reasonable adjustments.
SHL provides a number of options that can be considered with the candidate according to the disability and nature of the assessment. For example by providing:
Additional time on some assessments
Large format materials
Printing on colour paper
Adjustment of font size
Adjustment of font type
In Word format
In braille (through a third party)
A reader (through a third party)
Interpreters (British Sign Language – through a third party)
Work sample (this would be something done by yourselves but can be discussed with the Duty Consultant for advice)
The support or equipment a candidate may already have in place, such as assistive technology, equipment including coloured overlays, or a personal assistant will be considered when discussing appropriate adjustment options with us.
SHL is currently the only provider able to offer guidance and specialist support around adjustments to tools and services, including at least one adjustment option for each assessment across the six core areas of disability outlined in this guidance. We give support to both employers and candidates. We are also focused on making sure our technology is compliant with accessibility regulations and disability recommendations, with the intention of making our customer assessment system fully AbilityNet accredited. (http://www.abilitynet.org.uk/).
This is a common perception but not a safe assumption. Some objective assessments may not be inclusive due to barriers the candidate may face in accessing or completing the assessment. A good example would be a candidate with a visual impairment who cannot access an on-line assessment due to its technology not being compatible with the screen reader they use. This is an easy one to overcome. SHL are working with AbilityNet to become the first assessment provider with an accessible platform. While that is happening, we have a comprehensive range of adjustment options including assessments off line, reader support, and a growing bank of audio based assessments. Using their assistive technology, it is highly likely the candidate will have access to standard programmes such as Excel or Word but may not be able to demonstrate their abilities due to other technology that gets in the way.
You do not have to ask an individual to declare a disability unless you are doing so for monitoring purposes in your organisation. Our intention at SHL is to ensure that if a candidate needs an adjustment, you are aware of it and can communicate with us about an effective and workable solution. We encourage you to ask about and, where relevant, agree reasonable adjustment requirements rather than the nature of the disability.
Reasonable adjustments are not about lowering the bar and this is not the intention behind offering adjustments to the tools and services we provide. Reasonable adjustments will ensure that a candidate can access the assessment and perform at their best in order to understand if they are the right candidate for you. For example, by making sure a person with dyslexia has a longer time to complete a timed verbal ability test or that a visually impaired candidate can use a screen reader when completing a questionnaire.
ClearSurvey 2011 confirmed that over 74% of candidates who completed the research stated they would not disclose their disability for fear of not getting the job. There are always those who will try to cheat the system; robust processes and good messaging can reduce the risk of this. We are happy to discuss this further with our clients. However, the idea is not to try to collect evidence of the individual’s disability. Instead, it is about considering the need for any adjustment, checking with the candidate that it will reduce their disadvantage significantly and is reasonable, then putting the adjustment in place.
With 1 in 5 of the UK working population having a disability, you will have disabled candidates applying for roles. They may just not be telling you about it, as the effects of many disabilities are not visible. If you would like support in increasing the numbers of diverse and disabled candidates who apply to you and who are confident enough to share this information, we can introduce you to our core partners at the Clear Company (http://www.clearkit.co.uk/), who are leading experts in this field with significant evidence of their ability to make a difference for employers.
The Equality Act requires reasonable adjustments to be made for individuals with disabilities in relation to employment. If you know – or could reasonably be expected to know (for example from symptoms presenting themselves at interview) – that a candidate has a disability, you should seek to find out how you can help them and whether there are reasonable adjustments you can make. Unless you have given the candidate ample opportunity and the right environment to request adjustments, they are unlikely to provide this information. So long as adjustments are reasonable, you should put them in place even if they are requested at the last minute or after the event.