Employers wanting to be sure they are fully compliant with their legal obligations in the area of workplace inclusivity will need to be aware of new guidance relating to neurodiversity from the arbitration and conciliation service, Acas.
Neurodiversity refers to the variety of different ways that the human brain may work and process information. Whilst most people are ‘neurotypical’, more than 15% of people in the UK are thought to be neurodivergent. Neurodivergence involves different ways of thinking and learning, and includes, for example, attention deficit disorders, autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia.
Neurodivergence is experienced along a spectrum, so characteristics can differ from one person to another. But what an employer needs to know, is that where someone is neurodivergent, this will usually amount to a disability under the Equality Act 2010. It is not just employees who are protected under the Act. Workers, agency workers, apprentices, and some other categories of staff are also protected – as are job applicants.
This means that where someone discloses neurodivergence, there is an obligation to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace, and the role of the employee, sufficient to remove or minimise any disadvantage they may experience. Knowing what might constitute a reasonable adjustment is an area where employers can lack confidence. Acas can offer advice on its helpline 0300 123 1100. It also provides tips on managing neurodivergent staff, and suggests ways in which they can be supported in their roles at work on thier website here.