Your UK Autistic Guide to Rights at Work

Rachel Worsley  |  26/08/2023

In the United Kingdom, autistic employees are protected by several laws and regulations that ensure they have rights and accommodations in the workplace. Here are some key legal rights and considerations for autistic employees in the UK:

  1. Equality Act 2010: The Equality Act 2010 is the primary piece of legislation in the UK that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, including autism, in various aspects of life, including employment. Autism is recognized as a disability under this Act.
  2. Definition of Disability: To be protected under the Equality Act, an autistic individual must meet the definition of disability, which means they have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Autism typically qualifies as a covered disability under the Equality Act.
  3. Reasonable Adjustments: Employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the needs of disabled employees, including those with autism. Reasonable adjustments can include changes to work hours, physical workplace modifications, flexible working arrangements, additional support or training, and adjustments to communication methods.
  4. Duty to Make Reasonable Adjustments: Employers have a legal duty to take steps to ensure that disabled employees are not placed at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled employees. This includes providing reasonable adjustments to help autistic employees perform their job effectively.
  5. Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC): The EHRC provides guidance and resources to employers and employees on understanding and complying with the Equality Act. They can offer advice on making reasonable adjustments in the workplace.
  6. Disclosure: Employees are not required to disclose their autism diagnosis unless they are requesting accommodations. However, disclosing a disability can help employers understand an employee's needs and make appropriate adjustments.
  7. Harassment and Victimisation: Autistic employees are protected from harassment and victimization related to their disability. Employers should take steps to prevent harassment and respond to complaints promptly.
  8. Enforcement: If an autistic employee believes their rights have been violated, they can make a complaint to an Employment Tribunal. The Tribunal has the authority to make decisions and order remedies if discrimination or a failure to provide reasonable adjustments is found.
  9. Access to Work Scheme: The UK government provides support for disabled employees through the Access to Work scheme. This program can provide funding for adjustments and support services needed by autistic employees in the workplace.

It is essential for both employers and employees in the UK to be aware of these legal rights and obligations to create a more inclusive and accommodating work environment for individuals with autism and other disabilities. Employers should actively engage with employees to address their specific needs and work together to find reasonable accommodations that allow them to perform their job effectively.

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