Employment: ADHD and Autism at Work - putting your cards on the table

Employment:  ADHD and Autism at Work - putting your cards on the table


Working for an employer should be a rewarding, supportive and positive experience. Likewise, an employer should want to create a positive and supportive environment for their workforce. Communication between an employer and an employee is key to this particularly when there is an issue as to an employee’s ability.

Autism or ADHD in the workplace

However, a person’s mental disability such as Austism or ADHD is obviously a very personal and private matter and coming to terms and managing the condition is a challenge in itself, let alone discussing it with others, particularly non-professionals.

However, as much as a workplace environment is a professional one, it can be very difficult to raise mental health illness with an employer. Nevertheless, the benefits of doing so will invariably outweigh the disadvantages. This means, if you don’t tell you employer about any mental health conditions that you have, then not only will they likely be unable to take the disability into account, but an employee may find it difficult to be protected under UK legislation – namely The Equality Act 2010.

In a case decided last month (Mr M Ud-Din v CJCH Solicitors (1602197/2019) it was decided that the Claimant (employee) was a disabled person within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010 given the existence of his condition of ADHD, but it could not be said that the Employer could have reasonably have been expected to know of the disability. Therefore the claims of discrimination failed.

Ashley Hunt 2021

Ashley Hunt of Lawson West Solicitors remarked,

“We regularly advise clients who have disabilities to notify employers that they have these disabilities at as early a stage as possible, particularly disabilities which are not noticeably visual. Ideally this should be in written form should evidence of notice be necessary later on. This approach of putting your cards on the table begins the process of giving an employee protection from discrimination, but also gives the employer the opportunity to take into account any adjustments that might need to be made to maximise the ability of the employee. In fact, we have seen that embracing the condition adds to a more diverse workforce and allows the employee to add positive skills and attributes to the role itself."

“We specialise in disability discrimination claims, and these include the more complex claims arising from discrimination where a client has a mental health condition, particularly autism or ADHD. However, the fundamental need to notify the employer of a condition where practically possible is key, failing that we need to be able to show that the Employer had constructive knowledge of the Claimant’s disability”.

It is unfortunate that despite employees often notifying their employers of the condition, it is apparent that there are instances of the person’s disability being ignored or in exceptional circumstances, cause the employee to become the target of detrimental or unfair treatment. This is where we, as solicitors, often become involved. However, claims of disability discrimination are complex and involved and seeking Employment Law advice at an early stage is critical to protect your position. Lawson West has represented clients with a whole range of disabilities at negotiation and settlement level, usually involving settlement agreements, but also claims brought at Employment Tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunals for the last 15 years.

If you are an employee facing a discrimination issue then please contact Lawson-West Solicitors. Contact Us and we will get in touch as soon as possible.

Alternatively, please Tel: 0116 212 1000 or 01858 445 480.


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