What do employers do if an employee informs them they are dyslexic?

Despite that the fact that the NHS reckons that up to 1 in every 10 to 20 people in the UK has some degree of dyslexia, some employers seem to be in the dark about what this condition entails and how it affects employees.    

Dyslexia is not linked to intelligence, but it does affect an individual’s reading, writing and spelling. This does not mean, however, they can’t enjoy great success at work and be an asset for your organisation. In fact, with some simple support, they can really thrive.

How does the law protect those with dyslexia?

Under the Equality Act, dyslexia is considered a disability and therefore dyslexic employees are protected from direct discrimination, discrimination arising out of a disability, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

Added to this, employers also have a duty to make reasonable adjustments. This duty arises when a disabled employee is placed at a substantial disadvantage by:

  • an employer’s provision, criterion or practice or
  • a physical feature of the employer’s premises or
  • an employer’s failure to provide an auxiliary aid.

An employer will not be required to make reasonable adjustments unless they know or ought reasonably to know that the individual in question is disabled and is likely to be placed at a substantial disadvantage because of their disability. To discuss further, contact your Employment Law Adviser.

What types of reasonable adjustments could be made?

People have varying degrees of dyslexia, but common things employers may notice is inaccurate spelling, trouble following or remembering detailed instructions, struggles with planning or organisation and/or concentration difficulties.

If an employee had been diagnosed with dyslexia for a long time, it is most likely that they will have strategies in place which can be adopted in the workplace. However, you may find it useful to seek a diagnostic assessment to identify in what particular areas the employee needs support.

What is reasonable adjustment will depend on the degree of their dyslexia, their job role and the way you work in your organisations. In most cases, making reasonable adjustments is not expensive, but they can be highly beneficial to the employee.

Some examples include:

Reading – You could consider text-to-speech software, which allows employees to write a message or email and have it read back to them. You could also think about giving them verbal instructions rather than sending it out in a memo or email.

Writing – You could think about predictive text which anticipates what the user will write after entering a few characters. The employee can then click on the correct word. Or you could provide them with a longer period of time to complete any tasks that require writing or filling in information.

Organisation – You can map out tasks that need to be completed and provide clear deadlines or give them a dictaphone to help keep on top of their workload.

Concentration: Make sure their workstation is quiet and far from distractions and encourage colleagues not to disturb them while they are concentrating on difficult tasks. You could consider allowing them to work from home occasionally.

To discuss your obligations under the Equality Act in more depth, contact your Employment Law Adviser who can guide you.

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