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Disability - to disclose or not in Appreticeship application form

(30 Posts)
OnAshes Wed 06-Aug-14 00:45:36

DS with Aspergers is applying for an apprenticeship. So far it is going well with two companies wanting to interview him. There are emails with interview confirmation. When filling the online application DS did not disclose his AS, nor did he in his interview with aprenticeship recruiter. However the recruiter sent a form asking to confirm what was discussed at the interview. It include a box ticked to confirm that it was discussed that he did not have a disability (as it was indeed discussed), but also t a box that he doesn't have a statement of SEN, which he has and it was not discussed. So now DS needs to either disclose that he has a statement and hence a disability, or not to correct the box that say he does not have a statement.

DS also received an additional application form to sign. Right under the signature, and the statement that confirms that the information is correct to the best of his knowledge, on the same page, there is a monitoring form about ethnicity and disability. There is a specific box about Aspergers...

On one hand I was advised not to disclose AS as the aplication goes directly to the bin. I understand DS has the right by law not to disclose. The Monitoring form is positioned to force disclosure. It should be separate and not accessible to those involved in the recruitment process, right?

I think the right time for disclosure is when already in employement and in real need of help.

On the other hand in this paperwork not disclosing would be deliberate omission...

What is the best course of action for DS?

Patrickstarisabadbellend Wed 06-Aug-14 00:49:56

You should disclose it. I'm sure I read a thread on here about a man being sacked for not disclosing his aspergers.

wannaBe Wed 06-Aug-14 00:58:05

so your ds told them at interview that he didn't have a disability even though he does? Tbh I think he was in the wrong for doing that and while I can understand his motives, lying on an application form would be grounds for rejection of his application or even immediate dismissal in most work places.

Generally I follow the rule that if they ask I disclose, if they don't then I don't - until interview. But blatantly saying he doesn't have a disability when it is something which could affect his job or require him to need help/support at some point is unacceptable. If your ds requires support due to his disability at some point during his training/placement he would have no grounds to claim a disability he had previously lied about.

He really does need to disclose his disability at this stage or accept that he won't be able to rely on support in future on the grounds of a disability that his employers are unaware of and cannot possibly be expected to take steps to accommodate (reasonable adjustments as per the equality act).

ArsenicFaceCream Wed 06-Aug-14 01:01:20

NAS Helpline might be able to point you in the right direction.

The situation I think Patrick is refering to was a travesty and is, I believe, being legally challenged.

I hope someone qualified to comment further comes by soon.

Lally112 Wed 06-Aug-14 01:02:37

Disclose it. It would make it easier for his employer to support him with his role in the future. I understand the stigma sometimes attached to disability but it really is in his best interests to disclose, people cant help if they don't know. These forms are usually only for diversity and non discrimination reasons too.

OnAshes Wed 06-Aug-14 01:16:39

lying on an application form would be grounds for rejection of his application or even immediate dismissal in most work places.

The issue of course is not the stigma, but the discrimination in recruitment. DS already had some bad experiences when he disclosed applying for work experience.

I realise it is a hot issue. If there is a legal right not to disclose, employers should not be alowed to argue that not disclosing is unacceptable. Discrimination does exist and DS has already encountered it.

Once he discloses, the companies would pull back the interview arguing they don't have resources to support him or that he is not the right person... They won't be able to argue that when he will be doing his job well.

ArsenicFaceCream Wed 06-Aug-14 01:31:56

I realise it is a hot issue. If there is a legal right not to disclose, employers should not be alowed to argue that not disclosing is unacceptable. Discrimination does exist and DS has already encountered it.

I believe (but am not 100% sure) that an applicants right not to disclose would trump whatever legal basis employer imagine they have for insisting on the information.

I think the right not disclose spent legal convictions, except in DBS situations would be a close comparator. Or insurance companies demanding info they aren't legally entitled to request.

Just something I think I remember reading. I keep half an eye on this stuff because we will be in the same situation as you asnd your DS very soon and I am not as confident as some other posters that disclosure is a monitoring issue only. I have been cowardly about taking too close an interest so far though blush

I'm interested to see what you discover.

Lally112 Wed 06-Aug-14 01:40:02

I understand about discrimination and you are right - its not fair but the places that do discriminate are likely to be the ones who would not help or support your son when they do eventually find out. It may be relevant to the job role though.

We had a lad on a placement basis would come to our yard holidays and weekends, his disability was different to your sons so different requirements were needed as it was deafness or hearing impairment. Without the disclosure we wouldn't have been able to put in extra methods to keep him safe (ie ringers with lights and not just noises etc) but also for insurance reasons we had to disclose his disability to our insurers too. I agree with Arsenic though about the NAS helpline.

MorphineDreams Wed 06-Aug-14 01:44:22

Reading with interest smile

ArsenicFaceCream Wed 06-Aug-14 01:48:22

(I'm starting to have suspicions that you're me Morph but i'll take it up with you by PM later wink )

MorphineDreams Wed 06-Aug-14 01:50:49

Muahaha vaaairy interesting <scratches chin>

MiscellaneousAssortment Wed 06-Aug-14 01:55:01

If only all employers were prepared to put in place adjustments to help... But the vast vast majority do discimination (although would deny it of course).

Proving discrimination at recruitment stage is very hard. being disabled myself I've experienced previously nice and easy to work with colleagues turn into very nasty people when my disability has been revealed. Id prefer it if most people didn't know, and life is a hell of alot easier when you don't have to rely on the kindness and humanity of others.

If he can manage without significant safety adjustments, my feeling is that he shouldn't disclose. But would ask a employment and disability specialist.

MiscellaneousAssortment Wed 06-Aug-14 01:57:40

And oh yes indeed OP, if only stigma was the main worry (laughs bitter bitter bitterly).

The absolute worst and soul destroying thing about being disabled is the discrimination and that you become 'the other'.

Lally112 Wed 06-Aug-14 02:17:42

I understand Miscellaneous and it is a big stinking pile of faecal matter. It really isn't that difficult to make allowances or adjustments for people and agriculture is a dangerous career so it must be done for safety. If I remember rightly the boy I was talking about was passionate and really talented and is somewhere is England now at a reputable yard with a well known trainer - clearly destined for bigger things than us regardless of his disability and its actually annoyed me to think given a different set of circumstances he might not have had that opportunity.

OnAshes Wed 06-Aug-14 02:26:31

Without the disclosure we wouldn't have been able to put in extra methods to keep him safe (ie ringers with lights and not just noises etc) but also for insurance reasons we had to disclose his disability to our insurers too.

I understand Lally, this is a very good example.

However DS is applying for an IT apprenticeship, learning to program on the computer. I don't see how his safety would be a problem.

The insurance requirement is an interesting thing. Quite worrying. Aside from the very reasonable and good example of flashing lights for the hearing impared student, if any employer would run in problems with any insurance if they don't disclose about disabled employees, because presumably they pose more risk, then arguably employing disabled people make employers unensurable etc.

I hope Gary McKinnon case didn't make "evidence" that employee with AS represent securuty (hacking) risk for insurance purposes.

Lally112 Wed 06-Aug-14 02:43:10

I filled in most of the forms because I qualified as an RDA instructor years ago so I understood most of the terminology and the parts relating to office work on the insurance forms were mostly things like:

If the fire alarm went off how would you.... (lights and bells as before)
How would (I will call him A so as not to possibly out him) be able to communicate in this situation....
If A had to use the telephone what methods would be put in place (obviously touch type phone)... blah blah blah
And a lot of things relating to any medication (as its often not specific to the actual needs of the person) and equipment such as hearing aids and that loop (but we are too small a business to have the loop and got by without it) but I don't remember it putting much extra on the business insurance and my boss is tighter than old ebeneezer.

flowery Wed 06-Aug-14 10:08:20

On an application form this type of information should be for monitoring purposes only and shouldn't be part of the assessment for the role by the manager of the company doing the recruiting.

On a separate basis, companies do sometimes use medical forms as part of recruitment but the information on these can only be used to find out whether any adjustments are necessary to do the job or similar - a company can no longer not offer the job simply because they don't like what's on it.

Who advised you that he should not disclose it on the application form because it goes in the bin? That seems strange.

I don't think lying to the recruitment agent was sensible tbh. The better approach would have been to discuss it with him/her, reassure him/her that no adjustments are necessary for interview and (if that is the case) no adjustments would be necessary for the job, then ask the recruitment agent for details of what they do with that information.

Dismissing him because he has a disability would of course be unlawful if he gets the job and then subsequently tells them. Dismissing him because he lied on his application might technically be fair, especially if it's done within the first two years, if the employer can comfortably demonstrate it's not the disability itself which is the problem, but it would be risky and I wouldn't advise an employer to do it, simply because it would be difficult to demonstrate that and therefore likely to be challenged.

wannaBe Wed 06-Aug-14 10:23:15

I am VI. In a recent survey (I am on phone ATM will link later) nine out of ten employers said they wouldn't employ a visually impaired person. Is be interested to know how the same survey would reflect other disabilities.

flowery Wed 06-Aug-14 10:26:54

That's a sad statistic wannaBe. I wonder how much of that is due to employers just assuming it wouldn't be physically possible for a visually impaired person to do the jobs they have, and genuinely not being aware of the sorts of adjustments and equipment available.

wannaBe Wed 06-Aug-14 10:36:15

yes there are of course a lot of factors which come into play and I would be interested to know things such as:

-who did they survey? The answers would obviously differ dependent on if it was say, taxi companies/hair salons vs general office environments. I know I'm being flippent but depending on who did the survey it would be entirely possible to get it wrong.

- what experience do the perspective employers have of people with VI? I unfortunately do know people who wouldn't make the effort to dress well for an interview/be polite/who might walk into an interview scenario with a chip on their shoulder and already with a negative attitude because they think they will be a victim of discrimination. If you've come across someone like that in the past it could well impact on how you view someone with a VI in future. it shouldn't but it might.

I've always bee of the view that generally discrimination comes from ignorance and that there are of course situations where discrimination does occur, on the whole if you can prove yourself in interview then you have as much chance as anyone else.

Currently my barrier to employment is the fact I've been a sahm for twelve years which I think goes against me. I haven't had the chance to be discriminated against on the basis of my disability yet. Potentially I'm screwed. grin wink

flowery Wed 06-Aug-14 10:37:27


flowery Wed 06-Aug-14 10:41:32

I can genuinely see (sorry!) plenty of my clients just not being able to imagine it being possible for a VI person to work in their business. They are much more aware of the kind of adjustments needed for mobility-related conditions, or conditions where the employee needs more rest, or a special chair, those types of things, but I can imagine that they couldn't comprehend that it might be possible for something without "normal" sight to work in their business.

OnAshes Wed 06-Aug-14 10:52:12

The statistic for people with ASD is also well known. According to the NAS, only 15% are employed. I doubt it is only because the 85% are incapable of work...

So I really struggle with the rationale to volunteer this information to recruitment intermediaries, let alone the potential employer.

Why do they need to know it at all? How are they going to act on it if reasonable adjustments are not requested? If they are not going to act on it, they have no reason of knowing about disabilities. The applicant doesn't have any control over how the information will be used, except not to disclose it.

Nerf Wed 06-Aug-14 10:54:16

From ehrc website:

We also highlight particular issues in each section of this guide that are especially relevant to you if you are a disabled person.

Questions about health or disability
Except in very restricted circumstances or for very restricted purposes, employers are not allowed to ask any job applicant about their health or any disability until the person
has been:

• offered a job either outright or on a conditional basis, or
• included in a group of successful candidates to be offered a job when a position becomes available, where more than one post is being recruited to (for example, if an employer is opening a new workplace or expects to have multiple vacancies for the same role).
This includes asking such a question as part of the application process or during an interview. It also includes sending you a questionnaire about your health for you to fill in before you have been offered a job. Questions relating to previous sickness absence are questions that relate to health or disability.

This applies whether or not you are a disabled person.

No-one else can ask these questions on the employer’s behalf either. So an employer cannot refer you to an occupational health practitioner or ask you to fill in a questionnaire provided by an occupational health practitioner before the offer of a job is made (or before you have been included in a pool of successful applicants) except in very limited circumstances, which are explained next.

The point of stopping employers asking questions about health or disability is to make sure that all job applicants are looked at properly to see if they can do the job in question, and not ruled out just because of issues related to or arising from their health or disability, such as sickness absence, which may well say nothing about whether they can do the job now.

The employer can ask questions once they have made a job offer or included you in a group of successful candidates. At that stage, the employer could make sure that your health or disability would not prevent you from doing the job. But the employer must also consider whether there are reasonable adjustments that would enable you to do the job.

You can read more about reasonable adjustments to remove barriers for disabled people in Chapter 3.

What happens if an employer asks questions about health or disability?
The Equality and Human Rights Commission can take legal action against the employer if they ask job applicants any health- or disability-related questions that are not allowed by equality law. Contact details for the Equality and Human Rights Commission are at the end of this guide.

Also, you can bring a claim against an employer if:

• the employer asked health or disability-related questions of a kind that are not allowed, and
• you believe there has been direct discrimination as a result of the information that you gave (or failed to give) when answering the questions.
In such a claim, the fact that the employer asked these questions will shift the burden of proof, so that it will be for the employer to prove that they did not discriminate against you when, for example, the employer did not offer you the job.
When an employer is allowed to ask questions about health or disability
An employer can ask questions about health or disability when:

• They are asking the questions to find out if you need reasonable adjustments for the recruitment process, such as for an assessment or an interview.
​For example:

An application form states: ‘Please contact us if you need the application form in an alternative format or if you need any adjustments for the interview’. This is allowed.

• They are asking the questions to find out if you (whether you are a disabled person or not) can take part in an assessment as part of the recruitment process, including questions about reasonable adjustments for this purpose.
​For example:

An employer is recruiting play workers for an outdoor activity centre and wants to hold a practical test for applicants as part of the recruitment process. It asks a question about health in order to ensure that applicants who are not able to undertake the test (for example, because they are pregnant or have an injury) are not required to take the test. This is allowed.

• They are asking the questions for monitoring purposes. You can read more about monitoring below.
• They want to make sure that any applicant who is a disabled person can benefit from any measures aimed at improving disabled people’s employment rates. For example, the guaranteed interview scheme. They should make it clear to job applicants that this is why they are asking the question.
They are asking the question because having a specific impairment is an occupational requirement for a particular job.

​For example:

An employer wants to recruit a Deafblind project worker who has personal experience of Deafblindness. This is an occupational requirement of the job and the job advert states that this is an occupational requirement. The employer can ask on the application form or at interview about the applicant’s disability.

• Where the questions relate to a requirement to vet applicants for the purposes of national security.
• Where the question relates to a person’s ability to carry out a function that is intrinsic (or absolutely fundamental) to that job. Where a health or disability-related question would mean the employer would know you can carry out that function with reasonable adjustments in place, then the employer can ask the question.
For example:
A construction company is recruiting scaffolders. The company can ask about health or disability on the application form or at interview if the questions relate specifically to an applicant’s ability to climb ladders and scaffolding to a significant height. The ability to climb ladders and scaffolding is a function that is intrinsic or fundamental to the job.

In practice, even if a function is intrinsic to the job, the employer should be asking you (if you are a disabled person) about your ability to do the job with reasonable adjustments in place. There will be very few situations where a question about a person’s health or disability needs to be asked.

Most of the time, whether on an application form or during an interview, an employer should ask you a question about whether you have the relevant skills, qualities or experience to do the job, not about your health or about any disability you may have.

flowery Wed 06-Aug-14 11:30:55

"So I really struggle with the rationale to volunteer this information to recruitment intermediaries, let alone the potential employer"

What the rationale for answering the question honestly when asked (which is not the same as volunteering the information) depends why they are asking and in what way they are asking. If they are asking for monitoring purposes, then why not? If they are asking whether he has a disability which might mean he needs adjustments for an interview or to do the job, again, why not?

The point is to first ask what the information is being used for, and what happens to the information, rather than lying. If a candidate is not satisfied that there is a suitable reason for asking, or is not confident in what will happen to the information, then perfectly reasonable to refuse to answer the question.

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