Identifying disability status

The University aims to ensure a safe, inclusive and accessible environment that values people from diverse backgrounds.

We understand that identifying having a  disability can be challenging. Some people choose to say,  knowing they may need adjustments to enable them to undertake the tasks associated with work or study. However, many people are fearful of letting people know they have a  disability, believing they may be discriminated against or for many reasons including, loss of privacy, fear of being treated differently, fear that it will provoke curiosity or unnecessary concern, experience of having inaccurate assumptions being made about them and/or that they may be treated negatively and denied opportunities.

Benefits of identifying a disability

It is not a legal obligation for an employee to identify a disability unless it is likely to affect their performance to meet the essential requirements of the job. Once an employer knows, however, , they are required to provide appropriate workplace adjustments  to support the employee.

Sometimes people may identify as having a disability even though they don’t require any specific adjustments at the time. Although their disability will not impact on their capacity to undertake the role, identifying may avoid misunderstandings, create an opportunity for educating others or alert managers about the possibility of future requirements or adjustments.

Conversely, people have the responsibility to consider and/or obtain assistance in identifying strategies and suggested work-related adjustments and to advise about their disability if the disability is impacting on the work performance.

Appropriate adjustments

Reasonable adjustment or accommodation is about creating an environment that enables an employee with a disability to be able to do their job, although they may do it in a different way than people without disability. Examples could be provision of assistive technology such as screen reading software, changes to job design, reallocating some duties, ensuring access to a building or work station or allowing breaks or extra time to complete some tasks. 

For more information, see Reasonable accommodations or adjustments.


Knowing about staff members’ disabilities helps us to understand the diversity of our staff community and to determine the types of support and services we need to provide. It also allows us to monitor effectiveness of our policies and practices in providing a safe, inclusive and equitable workplace. Identifying disability status can occur at any time including:

  • Application for employment
  • On appointment
  • At any time during employment

Staff can change their disability status at any time by editing their Staff Profile.

Privacy information

The University values the privacy of every individual’s personal information and is committed to the protection of personal information. Read the University’s Privacy Statements.

Employees have a right to information about their disability being treated confidentially, appropriately and respectfully.

The University should not ask for general information about a person’s medical or ACC history; however, if the employee has a condition which may mean they cannot satisfactorily carry out their job, they have an obligation to disclose it.

Identifying mental illness, for example depression

Mental health conditions are referenced in the Staff with Disabilities Policy. Psychiatric illness, intellectual or psychological disability are examples of prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Human Rights Act.

Disclosure can allow the University to provide support to both the employee and their manager and provide any reasonable accommodations needed.

The decision to disclose or not, is often not a final decision, but one that can be re-evaluated over time based on the person’s work and personal circumstances.

Further information

You might also be interested in reading Students with disabilities disclosure guidelines