https://civilservice.blog.gov.uk/2015/12/09/top-tips-on-how-to-be-more-disability-confident/

Top tips on how to be more disability confident

Sam Todd head shot
Sam Todd, co-chair of the Cabinet Office Disability Network

It’s stating the obvious, but, as much as anything, the recent UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) reminded us why events like this still exist.

If everything was fine we wouldn’t need them!

The day is designed to promote action in all sections of society to raise awareness about disability issues, and to draw attention to the benefits of an inclusive and accessible society for all. Philip Rutnam, the Civil Service Disability Champion, has already drawn attention to some great initiatives in his blog post on the day itself, so I won’t repeat what he said. But, doing my bit, I thought it a good opportunity to share some ideas and top tips on being disability confident. First, though, it is worth looking at two of this year’s IDPD themes for a moment:

  • Improving disability data and statistics
  • Including persons with non-visible disabilities

Improving disability data and statistics

Graphic showing increase in proportion of disabled civil servants 2006 and 2015
Graphic showing increase in proportion of disabled employees in the Civil Service

Jeremy Heywood, John Manzoni and the entire Civil Service senior leadership are committed to eliminating discrimination and harassment in the organisation. To do that, they need our help.

Many departments have disability networks, ready to talk to teams and leaders and to work with HR to make sure that we improve our stats and the lives of the people behind those cold numbers. The more we know about the barriers - both of attitude and process - that prevent colleagues being themselves and making the most of their talents in the workplace, the more we can focus on getting rid of those barriers.

In Cabinet Office, we have one of the lowest rates for recorded disability across the Civil Service. Rather than being simply a reflection of the true position, this is potentially a practical problem – the difficulty of logging in to the Resource Management system and, once in, tracking down how to flag if you have a disability or otherwise. This needs fixing. So, as a first step, the Cabinet Office Disability Network (CODN), of which I am co-chair, have created a handy guide to help people record their personal data. There may be similar problems in other departments that you could draw to the attention of your own disability network or HR.

Including persons with non-visible disabilities

One barrier to inclusion is, often, ignorance. To address this, CODN is planning a series of education events to raise awareness of disabilities that generally go unnoticed, with the general population unprepared to react appropriately. Why not find out what is going on in your department to address this, or suggest some action on awareness raising.

We must create a culture where people feel that telling their colleagues about their disabilities is not a sign of weakness. In turn, I urge all civil servants to talk about how they can change the way they work to be more disability confident and help improve the performance of the whole team.

5 top tips

So, what practical things can you do? Here are some tips I have found helpful. They are relatively small things in themselves, but they can make a big difference to people with a disability - and make us more inclusive.

  1. Be clear as to what is needed. For example, try to write up meetings promptly, especially if actions are required. If you are have a hearing impairment, it can sometimes be tough to get all the outputs of the meeting. If, like me, you are dyslexic, short-term memory difficulties can sometimes mean things get lost.
  2. Be aware of the impact of change. Those of us with disabilities have often spent a lifetime building up coping strategies. Changes to IT, changes to working practices or simple peaks in activity can play havoc with these strategies. Disability-confident managers should be aware of this, and know when there might be a need for more support.
  3. Be open. Disabled people want to to do their jobs well, and they often know best what causes them difficulty. Something as simple as a question about what elements of the team’s work they think they can do well and what they will find harder can fundamentally change the way you perceive the allocation of work within a team.
  4. Encourage development. Sometimes coping with disability can be tough. There can be a feeling you have to frantically paddle just to keep your head above water. That does not leave a lot of time for training.  A disability confident manager should be watching out for opportunities for their disabled staff to enhance their skills. Quieter times, such as Parliamentary recess, are ideal.
  5. Be positive and boost confidence. Some of us with disabilities may lack the confidence to volunteer for the special project that could push us to the top box marking. A few words of support can make a world of difference, and the project that then works out will be a foundation for confidence to attempt the next big thing.  

I encourage readers to use the comments section below to record their experiences of things managers have done that have assisted them in the workplace, and to pass on tips from managers for making sure disabled staff can work to their full potential - or make your own suggestions.

 

This article was amended on Friday, 11 December 2015, to clarify a sentence in the paragraph beginning, "Many departments have disability networks...", about the barriers facing civil servants with disabilities.

65 comments

  1. Comment by Helen Anderson posted on

    Great blog Samuel. Thank you for making me, a non-disabled manager of a team, more aware of how I can be more supportive of those with disabilities. Your five tips really help and I lingered over tip 2 as I am conscious that the civil service continues to go through enormous change.

    • Replies to Helen Anderson>

      Comment by Andy posted on

      I have disabilities myself, have managed people with disabilities. I also provide support to colleagues through my union work.
      There is one key point about working a with a disabled colleague that I am amazed isn't in the top tips. Number 1 must be: TALK to the person with the disability about what support they do and don't need. They are the expert on how their condition affects them and will know what is needed and what does/doesn't work for them. If you do that you can pretty much dispense with the rest of the tips.

      Too often decisions are made without that basic step. Automatically providing a list of supports that go with a named condition can be both inefficient and ineffective. It is also lacking in common courtesy not to take the views of the person you think you are helping into account.
      Possibly some managers feel embarrassed about discussing these issues with their staff. They shouldn't. I have never met anyone who has not been glad to be involved in an open discussion about what practical measures will help them to give their best at work.

      • Replies to Andy>

        Comment by Rebecca R. posted on

        You're spot on Andy but too many managers actually do that as a get out clause for them having to do any thinking.
        Many disabled people don't know what adjustments can be done or what they can request.
        We can't forget that it is a legal obligation for the employer to consider and implement reasonable adjustments and too many managers who fail to do this simply respond by saying the disabled person couldn't come up with anything to be considered.
        Now either that's laziness, active avoidance of obligations or its just plain obvious that far too many managers lack knowledge and understanding and are not prepared to take pro-active approach (with pro-action being a hallmark of leadership competencies).

    • Replies to Helen Anderson>

      Comment by Anne posted on

      I have a daughter with Irlans, a reading disability which also affects how well she remembers things. I have always encouraged her to not be a victim, and always made sure she is aware of what she can do really well, which sits on the 'non-academic' side of things, although she still achieves average grades with a great deal of effort. People around her are not mind-readers, and do not know how she is coping or feeling, or what she needs, so I also make sure she speaks up when needed. However, I am well aware that she will be entering a workforce which will have certain expectations of her, and I am trying to ensure that she will be able to cope.
      I have seen good and bad examples of management of disabled staff, and this is sadly reflected in society generally. A bit more talking and understanding, and a 'can do' rather than 'can't do' attitude would certainly go a long way. Aren't managers already doing this with non-disabled staff? With an aging population at work, disability and illness will be more commonplace, and managers will have to learn to deal with this effectively.

  2. Comment by Anon posted on

    Due to disability, I had agreed with my manager I could use my car for certain travel - the cost was identical to public transport. Since changing to a new manager, I have been told they will not pay travel costs for my car.

    I will still use my own car, I just will now not claim any T&S. Sadly, there seems to be a LONG way still to go.

    • Replies to Anon>

      Comment by Anon posted on

      This does not seem fair at all. We use a "disability passport" that allows me to articulate my additional needs and have them agreed with my Line Manager. This is on the understanding that when I move to a new role or indeed get a new Manager my needs are already defined. I believe this helps in the open conversation required about how to help me do my job well. Hope this helps.

    • Replies to Anon>

      Comment by Bert posted on

      Anon, I would seek the help of your TU rep or Departmental Disability Network. If there is a good reason for you using your car, related to your disability, you should be able to get this recognised as a reasonable adjustment and reimbursed via T&S.

      Sometimes we have to force the change.

    • Replies to Anon>

      Comment by Owen Morris posted on

      You may find that the Charity for Civil Servants can help with a Carer's Passport. It may assist with adjustments for various issues. Even if the one being cared for by the adjustments is yourself.

  3. Comment by Anon posted on

    Due to disability and following consultation with occupational health it had been agreed that I could work from home 1 day a week to reduce the pain and fatigue associated with a long commute. My manager is not happy with this as he perceives that it reduces my visibility in the office. There is a very long way to go in some departments regarding such adjustments which in other departments represent standard ways of working.

  4. Comment by Kevin Oliver posted on

    Good Blog. Agree that hidden disabilities don't get the recognition they need. Talking about them makes them more visible. Too many Managers see workers with disability as a "problem" rather than treating them according to their needs, and thereby making them happier, more valued, and therefore more productive.

  5. Comment by anon posted on

    I have found the civil service to be all talk and no action regarding adjustments in the workplace to help me with my disability.

  6. Comment by Anon posted on

    I have 2 of the invisible disabilities and sadly don;t get any help. I am made to feel guilty that I have let my team down if I ever am off work ill. There is no help with regards sick leave.. If anything I get less than other people with general or fixable problems..People just do not understand because you look well !!!

    • Replies to Anon>

      Comment by anon posted on

      I agree. I have a non-visible disability, and despite my best efforts to educate my manager about how this, and the medication I take for it, affects my performance and sick absence, I do not feel that they are taking these properly into account. I was diagnosed just over a year ago - and despite working as hard as I can, for the first time in 15 years I have been given a 'must improve' marking in my mid-year PMR, which is demoralising and demotivating, and frankly makes me feel worthless. My daily work life is a constant uphill struggle, with the wilful ignorance of those around me making my health issues worse. I am now in a position where my line manager's interpretation of 'reasonable adjustments' requires me to find another job. I am now in the unfortunate position of deciding whether or not I should raise a grievance - but I am reluctant to do so given the further negative impact this would have on my health, so I am currently stuck in a job where I am both mis-understood and unwanted.

      • Replies to anon>

        Comment by Witheld posted on

        Can the union not assist?

        Have you taken the issue above your line manager at all? Take it as high as it can go - also, have a look at the disability discrimination act and if necessary, e-mail it to your manager to point out that as a disabled person you are protected against being discriminated against.

        • Replies to Witheld>

          Comment by Anon posted on

          I have taken these steps and due to having a busines manager who has friends in higher places there is no point in trying again. Last time I just got shot down which then made me doubt myself, my friends and my work.

          • Replies to Anon>

            Comment by Rebecca R. posted on

            The problem is that managers by and large are quite ignorant about disability issues especially when it comes to people whose conditions aren't visible.
            So they will get advice from their manager or HR or try and kick into the long grass.
            A colleague of mine waited 7 months between informing her manager of her disability and an Occ Health report being requested and done.
            The manager then moved on before implementing any reasonable adjustments but didn't forget to give the person a "must improve" annual appraisal mark before they left.
            The problem is once senior managers and HR have been involved, the disabled person doesn't stand a cats chance in hell getting wrong decisions overturned, Managers have a certain mindset and will never admit fault in their approach to disability issues.

            Too many managers see disabled staff as the perfect fodder to fill the 10% must improve target.

      • Replies to anon>

        Comment by Anon posted on

        I know exactly how you feel.. I am also in the process of looking for another job due to the way I am being treat at work as regards my illnesses and also regarding a disagreement at work with a colleague who I still have to work with every day. I can't even move teams even though this is all stressing me out and making me feel worse than I need to. chin up...and keep fighting!

  7. Comment by lucie posted on

    I have a non-visible disability (I am bi-polar and have Aspergers). Felt rather heartened by the article - it's true that I have met many colleagues and managers in my career who read a little about my condition and then make decisions about my welfare rather than actually talk to me about what would help. I am lucky now that I have a manager who does model the values and an HR team who cannot do enough to support when I need it.

    We do need to think more about non-visible disability though - even down to thoughtless comments people make that can offend that I hear regularly.

    • Replies to lucie>

      Comment by Anon posted on

      Very true re: thoughtless comments. I get a few about using the lift to go up and down just 2 floors. But walking up and down stairs is really difficult for me (and painful). But as I'm 20 something and look fit and healthy I keep getting 'oooh, you're so lazy' comments in lifts!

  8. Comment by Keith Reeder posted on

    Man! This is patronising!

    In what way are those 5 so-called "top" tips not appropriate for EVERYONE, disabled or not?

  9. Comment by Anon posted on

    This all sounds great. I just hope people, especially line managers, take time to learn about different disabilities and how they can help. An open minded line manager makes all the difference to how you feel and what you feel you can accomplish. Encouragement goes a long way. Disabled people can complete tasks but sometimes in a different way or slower. As long as the outcome is the same it shouldn't matter. My line manager has been fantastic and I hope my new one will be too. I have disabilities that cannot be seen and can be quite frustrating, as people look at me and think there is nothing wrong. I am Dyslexia, suffer Depression and have Arthritis. Each one of these have other issues associated with them and can have a knock affect to each other.

  10. Comment by David posted on

    So what happens if you remove all reference to disabled or disablility in the top tips? Answer nothing - they are all good practice. If you apply these tips to your managment style it will help you be a better manager reguardless of who is in your team. Remember just because you don't know a team member has a disablilty does mean.... there are many of us where the disablity is hidden because we have developed fantastic coping strategies sometimes to the point where we don't know we have a disability until the strategy breaks.

  11. Comment by K Cross posted on

    I have a couple of 'invisible' disabiilities... I look well and am very good at hiding the pain I'm in- I have only recently started to use a cane and my sickness tends to be odd days- this can cause problems as people see me as a 'malingerer'.
    I have had differnt experiences with managers- some marked me down as lazy- but my last and present managers have been really good.
    Still some way to go on the 'general' population of the office though!

  12. Comment by John Amabilino posted on

    Your point on non-visible disability is an important one, and well made - I've often found that the needs of Deaf people, or those suffering from hearing loss, for example, are overlooked. Overcoming this hurdle will is vital in working towards a more inclusive workplace.

  13. Comment by Julie Anderson posted on

    Unfortunately, there isn't always a continuity when there are staff moves. And interpretation of the guidance is often too open to interpretation. There needs to be a clearer guidance and rules to apply. I've had to argue and go through grievance and appeals to ensure I have extended sick-leave allowances, and that they aren't adjusted each year. It's stressful - and I'm supposed to avoid stress! I have Crohn's and recently been diagnosed with osteo-arthritis - both invisable, and unpleasant disabilities. But I don't want to be off work, contrary to the popular belief those with disabilities are whinges and foot stampers to get what the need...

  14. Comment by Edward posted on

    Thanks Samuel ,I really find this useful being heavily Dyslexic myself, my Line Manager and Head of Departement are aware but dont feel they understand my Disability. I have never had any contact from HR or any reasonable adjustments made. As Its a memory and concentration specific learning difficulty things can take longer and its harder to organise oneself, also often at the end of the day i can be shattered from visual stress from concentrating on reading and processing large volumes of information. I dont want to make a a bif deal as i want to progress but sometimes i feel flexibilityshould be made.

    I dont feel this is an issue unique to any organisation, i noticed this with many collegues who are dyselxic many dont push themselves and are not in high skilled employment due to not having support during education.

    • Replies to Edward>

      Comment by Angela Collins-Rees posted on

      Edward, I read your comment with great interest. I'm currently leading on the research to improve the learning service for Civil Servants. Would you be interested in being involved in our project and sharing your experiences around learning, and how we can improve it?

  15. Comment by Andrew posted on

    Personally think the disabled staff have problems with higher management who are seeing rules, regs and numbers only. These people working hard to conquer their disabilities and their jobs and still the doors are constantly being shut in their faces by non understanding high and mighties who can not show common sense because the rules don't and it would also show a wrong number on Page 20, Row 47, Column 35.

  16. Comment by fiona mcgregor posted on

    Im very lucky I have a Line manager who is brill at listening and doing to make sure I have equipment to do my Job. But sometimes I find it difficult with others people views and have to agree that I tend not to volunteer for anything I dont think I could do.
    Great read hopefully people will read it and make a difference.

  17. Comment by Susan posted on

    I find my office to have a very poor response time to supporting safe working conditions that prevent me feeling more disabled, and tired of nagging, it makes me feel very low and why am I bothering thoughts enter my head alot. I have tried to be patient as I accept my Manager's and past Manager's are very busy and as I have often been told in the last four years I am not the only person in the office, but due to the impact the lacaidaisical attitude has to my health I on a daily basis feel physically worse and use annual leave to manage my health...let alone the impact it has on my emotional and stress levels.

  18. Comment by Susie Owen posted on

    Great blog Samuel. Really useful to have practical tips that all of us can use to better support colleagues with disabilities.

  19. Comment by anon2 posted on

    I find that being disabled and working for the DWP do not go together. Very little allowance is made in either sick leave or reasonable adjustment and this can make life difficult. 7.5 days a year sick leave does not really cover multiple health problems and this makes life very stressful at times.
    We are very good to the customers:13 week extended period of sickness, reduced working hours, HDEA help. For the lowly staff member there are few offers of help.

  20. Comment by Boss Bentham posted on

    The more we know about the difficulties faced by our colleagues, the barriers - both of attitude and process - that get in the way of them being themselves and making the most of their talents in the workplace, the more we can focus on getting rid of them.

    Great article but be careful to be clear as this sentence seemed like something Dickensian when I first read it - do we want to get rid of us disabled folk or the barriers!

    • Replies to Boss Bentham>

      Comment by The Blog Team posted on

      Thanks for pointing this out Boss. We have adjusted the sentence, to make it clearer.

      The Blog Team

  21. Comment by Sharron Murray posted on

    A colleague in my workplace with dyslexia and associated problems finally after a number of years felt able to admit to his disability three years ago. He is still waiting for reasonable adjustments to be put in place and is struggling with low self esteem after three 'not met' markings. He doesn't feel his disability is being taken seriously and feels his concerns are being brushed off. I feel this is not acceptable but he doesn't want me to approach his manager on his behalf. Where do we go from here?

  22. Comment by Barry posted on

    Seems very much, despite the huge move forward towards inclusion, there is still quite a way to go. Is there no kind of appeal system whereby you would be able to put across the point that it's easier in your circumstances to use your own car? Have you thought about apporaching any of your representatives

  23. Comment by Diane Luff posted on

    I am an HEO, due to my disability i have a special work desk, chair and IT my desk has been in this position for many years now. I am comfortable with this set up unfortunately due to floor space being required in our building we now have hot desking. As a consquence the team has moved to the far end of the floor and I remain static. The reason for my comment is I have heard comments like why are you not sitting in your team and why dont you move your desk. I dont think people realise how hurtful this sounds as I have no control over these changes. Yes I would like to be part of the team they could have moved to join me.

  24. Comment by Anon posted on

    I have a disability which unfortunately for me is not yet under control. I am currently still in the process of getting my condition stabilised. I have found my managers very inconsiderate although they recognise my physicial disability they do not take into account my mental heatlh wellbeing whilst my condition is being stabilised and the impact this has on my life. I have been given a final written warning.

  25. Comment by Anon posted on

    This is a simple but educating article, thank you.
    Although I am not a manager I will keep this things in mind when working with my colelagues and even outside of work.

  26. Comment by Paula Harrington posted on

    In my own department, I manage the intranet and I've been trying for some time to reach a point where all documents that go on the intranet are simple, clear and fully accessible to anyone with visual or motor impairment, or dyslexia. You'd think everyone in the organisation would be right behind that, but we've had so much resistance to our accessibility standards. We also have a couple of cross-department programmes that are producing services and documents but don't seem to have an accessibility focus.

    I hear that someone, somewhere is setting up a cross-government group to tackle information accessibility. That would help enormously and I hope it happens soon. Sam, do you know anything about that? I'd like to be involved.

    Always glad to hear from anyone else who cares about digital accessibility. paula.harrington9@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

  27. Comment by Marie Kennedy posted on

    Thank you Samual. Oh for number 2 and 3. I've worked in the service 15 years but those early days would have been much happier, had things worked that way. These points are based on a much more sophisticated understand of the issues. Something which didn't exist back then. I also like their simplicity which makes them easy to put into practise. As someone with a visual impairment, I can say that life at work has improved dramatically in recent times.

  28. Comment by Anon posted on

    When I first did an online competency test for promotion I found it really difficult. Questions referred to examples, which you had to scroll backwards and forwards to read. As I once had amnesia, I found that the test conditions triggered a lack of confidence about my memory.

    I was slow and could not complete the test within the time limit. So my results were quite poor. However I wrote Feedback to the HR team explaining that if the computer screen was split (so you can see both the question and the example at the same time), it would assist someone like me without disadvantaging anyone else.

    The following year I decided to try again. I discovered that HR had listened to my comments and had amended the test as requested. There was well over 100% improvement on my test results for the preceeding year and I did manage to gain promotion.

    Thanks for listening.

  29. Comment by DKW posted on

    The politically correct terms change about once a decade - criple, special needs, disabled - in time each term gains negative associations and is then changed. However, the negative associations are arguably unnecessary, as for many disabilities there is a compensating gift - like a blind piano tuner, or a person who has depression being understanding of other people's vulnerabilities.
    I have a personality type called Aspergers, which is typically seen as a 'disorder', which I find hilarious. I don't regard it as a disability; I have a different set of capacities to others (though don't most of us?). For instance, I can see links between things that others regard as unrelated fields, and this helps in my job. Much of scientific progress and the Computer revolution has been driven by 'Aspies'.
    If you were to list 100 people who have made a lasting positive contribution (science, ethics, art or whatever) I will show you at least 90 significantly unusual people. It could be suggested that those with more pronounced differences have at least as much to contribute.
    It can be harder work communicating with someone who's personality is significantly different to your own, but diversity is the strength of our species - pretty much everything that has moved us beyond living in caves and grunting at each other has been because of someone unusual.
    My message is - some disability is just difference, diversity is the very thing that has moved our species forward, so look for the compensating gifts, stop whinging, and use your gifts so people perceive you as uniquely talented not 'disabled'.

  30. Comment by Joyce posted on

    Unfortunately even with all these positive words, the way we treat people with hidden disability is still in the dark ages. Why? because it is often lip service by those who like ticking political boxes and not enthusised to those who can make a difference in a disabled persons life.

  31. Comment by Charles posted on

    Pleased to see in the article a few words on memory loss, very few people know this is related to dyslexia. I was laughed out of my local doctors for going to them with this issue, being young, I later found out it was linked to this non-visible disability. Ever since knowing more about why I struggled to remember, ive been able to use strategies to help with this

  32. Comment by Alex posted on

    To Keith Reeder, not sure what you see as patronising; you are quite right the 5 points above would help both disabled and non- disabled, but sadly in my part of the Civil Service they are simply not seen in line management, and perhaps the lack of them has a bigger impact on the disabled population. But really your point just highlights how important this type of thinking is, and how widely it could make a difference for everyone.

  33. Comment by David Childs posted on

    Many of these comments indicate poor and inconsistent advice/decision-making by line managers. No-one should have to put up with this. Every department should have a grievance process to allow you to challenge a capricious, ignorant or negligent line manager. Your union rep can help (you are a member, aren't you?).

  34. Comment by Stu Holttum posted on

    Keeping my fingers crossed that Samuel Todd will return, read the mass of comments above that say "nice words, but it ain't happening in practice", and give a response that says what he intends to do about it.

    • Replies to Stu Holttum>

      Comment by Blog team posted on

      Dear Stu,
      thanks for your comment. Sam is co-Chair of the Cabinet Office Disability Network and these are the steps they are putting into place in that Department. There may be similar ventures in your department and if you want to find out more the Civil Service Disability Network should be able to point you in the right direction of your local team: https://civilservice.blog.gov.uk/civil-service-disability-network/

      Thanks

      • Replies to Blog team>

        Comment by Stu Holttum posted on

        So "No" then.

        Can I ask, what is the point of articles allowing comment if the article author will not read or respond to them?

  35. Comment by Paul posted on

    I have just read DKW's blog comment, what a wonderful comment about 'uniquely talented' not 'disabled'. I have Multiple Sclerosis and work in a team and environment in which I feel valued. This is down to not only an understanding line manager/staff but the wider organisation which is widely diverse being spread around the country and NW Europe. My condition is sadly slowly getting worse but adjustments are not a single 'well thats that sorted out' but a continuous process with multiple minor adjustments required on a rolling cycle, which is what happens. You are quite correct that those with disabilities are sometimes looked on as a problem to be solved but those with the disability need to sometimes 'take it on the chin'. I am an ex serviceman and have never deemed myself disabled but slightly broken!

  36. Comment by Kit posted on

    It can be done. My very understanding line manager and I have agreed working arrangements which suit both my hidden disability and my home responsibilities. Now working part-time, generally from home, on projects which suit my skills, we have cut out the extensive travel and long hours I used to work.

    From observation I find though that this consideration is manager or team dependent. I am also concerned about the coming changes and whether I will suffer in redundancy lists because I may be considered 'difficult', or whether I could be forced into less-amenable arrangements.

  37. Comment by Laikha posted on

    I find it promising that the top level managers are trying to do something about this. However reality is that it never actually filters down to the AO/EO level. I have a hearing difficulty and for years I have been assessed at the end of year review along side others. My disability means that there are some aspects of the job that I cannot do (like phone calls), and then also affects the other aspects of the job (like meetings, announcements etc…). Also as my disability is a recent disability rather than from birth, the psychological effects, such as confidence, have never been taken into consideration. But as long as it ticks the correct box and stats and targets are met, then that’s all that matters!

  38. Comment by ANON posted on

    In my previous department i was made to feel a financial burden and was told how much i was costing the department in being assisted with my handicap. I was also considered as just being 'ackward' in relating problems which I was encountering. both experiences were not pleasant and were somewaht humiliating. there were seven line managers and an office manager all of who were made aware of an ' Understanding Dyslexi' seminar and not one attended. so perhaps the disability issue in not ours but a lack of interest by management and the fact that several contributers on this blog wish to remain ANON is a statement in itself.

  39. Comment by Sharon posted on

    It is really sad and disappointing to hear some of the difficulties people are experiencing at work due to disability. I have personal experience of supporting a close relative (my mum) who lived with a very serious mental health condition. To the world she looked fine and was expected to participate in 'normal' life - she couldn't !! This personal experience has helped me enormously in my role as a manager in the Civil Service. It is really important that staff try to be open with their line manager about any condition which may make things difficult for them. Managers can only act on what they know. If your manager is unable to help you then please approach your Staff Network Group who will know who you need to contact to obtain the appropriate guidance and support. Nobody should ever be made to feel uncomfortable or inadequate at work !

  40. Comment by ANON posted on

    I also have an invisible disability - multiple sclerosis! I can walk unaided, and don't use a stick, unless I walk cross-countr.
    People often comment on how well I look, but I know from my annual reports, and other areas of my life, that I'm not the same person I was 17 years ago.
    I am now awaiting my second "must improve" marking on my annual report; and yet I'm now trying to do a full-time job in 3 days per week.
    All I keep hearing is the term reasonable adjustment, and it leaves me wanting to tear my hair out.
    It seems unless they can buy and IT gadget, or new chair to solve your problem that there is nothing that can be done.
    All I'd like is a fair job for the time I give, and understanding of the problems that I now have.
    I truly believe that there is nothing that can be bought that will help the issues I face.
    Please be fair.

  41. Comment by Another anon posted on

    I have noticed several artcles relating to disability published in various places on the intranet during the last few weeks. Perhaps these are a result of the People Survey. It all looks hopeful in black and white, however, as somebody with hidden disabilities (but medical evidence a plenty) I have found the reality of dealing with my managers a drawn out and horrendous ordeal. I now feel so negative about coming to work that it has affected my emotional wellbeing - which was fine until I asked for help at work.

  42. Comment by Rebecca R. posted on

    The graphic shows that the Civil Service is getting a lot better at identifying the number of staff with disabilities - but it's still only the number of those prepared to reveal that.

    The Civil Service culture still mitigates strongly against people divulging this personal information for fear that they will be regarded as automatically less capable than non-disabled employees.

    I have heard of people with mental health conditions being described as "special needs cases" or "Jekyll and Hyde characters" in management reports to justify "must improve" markings.

    How is that supposed to encourage come out about their disabilities if that is the offensive and career-stopping attitudes they will be subjected to?

    It has to be a huge concern that the latest People Survey shows 14% of staff saying they were discriminated against over the past year because of their disability.

    One of the biggest problems is that when disabled people complain of their treatment is regarded as an attack and their complaints are dismissed as hysterical, deluded or just the pleadings of malingerers.

    One improvement might be that any complaint about disability must have a disabled person involved in investigating and deciding on that complaint. Someone who knows the barriers disabled staff can face and what could have been done or should be done to avoid these.

  43. Comment by Anon posted on

    I have experienced bad and good managers. Good ones are hard to find. I think it is very hard for someone to understand how people feel and react with mental health and Disability issues. They really need to listen to the person with the disability and what works for them, as no 2 people are alike. Jobs need to be tailored to the persons abilities and you will get a good work return. If you make someone do something they don't understand or find very difficult, you have an unhappy employee and a useless productiveness. Also, it helps if your line manager is encouraging and shows that you are doing your job well, it gives you more belief in yourself and you want to do more.

    Many managers don't want to know. They think disabled means more work, which is rubbish, it just takes a bit of time initially to work out how the employee is going to work.

    I am lucky and have had a great manager and my new manager is just as good. The hand over between them both was a chat about how I work and the issues I have. My new boss asks how I am doing and making sure all is ok. If I have any problems, he is approachable and ready to sit down and talk it through. I have much more confidence in myself and want to volunteer for more work. My mental health is stable at present due to the lack of stress at work as I can be honest. My physical health is under control as I can work from home when it is bad. My manager still gets his work from me and I can relax from the travelling to London and rest my Arthitis etc.

  44. Comment by Felicity posted on

    I have found department to be helpful in enabling me to work with my hidden disability. I have a special "rise and fall" desk without which I would not be able to work even my current part-time hours. Work colleagues can be less understanding though with one boasting in team meetings about how she never has a day off sick which is not kind as it implies that others have a choice about the matter which you don't if you have a long-term health problem or disability!

    • Replies to Felicity>

      Comment by Anon posted on

      Felicity, are you able to work from home on the days you would normally take sick leave? This way you still get the break you require because of your illness but work still get their jobs done and you don't need to take sick leave. Might be worth having a chat with your line manager.

  45. Comment by RED posted on

    I wish I could do that..It would make my life so much easier. The managers in here do but it is not an option for the rest of us. I am treat the same as everyone else, even though I have a lot of problems with my illnesses, particularly as I am not on any treatment at the moment.
    People I work with don't understand as they have never experienced illness in their family..

  46. Comment by KD posted on

    For many people with medical conditions - working from home should be one of the first considerations a manager should explore.

    Often it can be the case the someone is not fit to travel BUT is fit to carry out work at home in a safe and secure environment.

    Why on earth would managers seek to penalise their colleagues through inflicting a rigid Attendance Management policy - including formal warnings, threats of dismissal, downgrading performance etc etc, when all that's required as a fairly simple adjustment allowing our people to work from home, manage their symptoms and produce valuable output.

    I agree, that many managers seem to have a very basic lack of knowledge about what can (and by law must) be done to remove barriers to work.

    Often I don't think they're aware of the information and support from Reasonable Adjustment Teams.

    Ultimately it's a culture problem and until our people who are truly protected from discrimination, we will continue to have a substantial minority of our workforce who feel they have no stake and even less worth in the service.

    It is so important for our disabled colleagues to speak up, raise concerns whenever there is a sign their protected status seems undermined by careless, lazy or ignorant management attitudes.

    • Replies to KD>

      Comment by RED posted on

      KD, I agree totally! I am stuck with these rigid attendance management policies and they don't help me one bit. If anything they just stress me further which then in turn makes me feel worse. I am now on review, have had my formal warning and if I am sick again from October(2014) to April 2015 I am then on a stage. I have 2 chronic conditions and both involve my joints. Some days I can hardly walk, never mind get to work, but I have to otherwise I am then in trouble. I am looking for a new job but there is nothing out there with the same wage or the hours that I do now. So for now I am stuck with these ridiculous attitudes and rubbish managers!!

  47. Comment by Charlotte Smith posted on

    A very interesting article. I am another disabled employee working in the civil service, i have now been in the job over 20 years. I have a number of hidden disabilities. Unfortunately and regretably i have been subjected to bullying, harrasement, victimisation and the subject of constructive dismissal which of course are prohibited under the Equality Act. I have no faith in the judicial process within the civil service which has failed to bring me justice. If anything it allows those responsible for such behaviour to get away with it.

    I feel a lot more work needs to be done to train managers on not only the Equality Act 2010 but also how their behaviour could well land them in an Employment Tribunal. Only the other day on the local news there was a case of a woman with terminal cancer who was sacked from her job because of her illness. Not very good publicity for the civil service, and the woman in question could well take the case to Employment Tribunal and win as cancer is now classed as a disability.

    There needs to be Diversity Officers on the workshop floor to prevent negative attitudes, provide education and support for both management and staff. And most importantly enforce and uphold the Equality Act 2010.