Legal FAQs

For Dyslexic Employees in the UK

How am I protected at work?

For those, who are employed, government prepared several amenities to protect them at workplaces and enable to work equally with employees who are not disabled.

If you are diagnosed with dyslexia, you should contact your employer and discuss all symptoms and difficulties which you experience at home and the workplace.

There is a legal duty on employers to ensure that employees or candidates who have a disability are not discriminated against or significantly at a disadvantage when doing their job or facilitation of a process (such as job interviews or meetings). You can speak to your employer about what reasonable adjustments may be needed to assist you in the workplace.  If you are treated unfairly due to your disability, then you may be able to bring a claim of disability discrimination. There are different types of disability discrimination claims such as direct or indirect discrimination, failure to make reasonable adjusts and discrimination arising from a disability claim which the equality act protects against.

 

What if I don't know or understand my company's policy?

All company policies should be reviewed and explained to employees by relevant training or coaching, which creates understanding and giving knowledge rather than stressful situations during reading them.

There are several organisations in UK, which offer assessment for companies which would like to adapt their workplaces, offices and equipment to needs of dyslectic employees. Those organisations, for example Dyslexia Association will improve your efficiency, confidence and performance by organizing training for improvement of:

  • Oral and comprehension skills development
  • Memory and concentration activities
  • Reading and writing
  • Accuracy and efficiency
  • Perception and orientation
  • Controlling emotions, work attitudes and interactions
What if my dyslexia has not been medically confirmed with my employer?

If your dyslexia has not been medically confirmed with the employer, the company is then required to seek the services of Occupational Health where you will be assessed and recommendations will be given to your employer through a final report.

As dyslectic individual, can I receive financial support?

Person with dyslexia may receive financial support in the form of benefits from Department of Work and Pensions. It is Personal Independence Payment or Adult Disability Payment. You may qualify if you need help with preparation of food, managing therapy costs or monitoring the health condition, for example reading, writing and understanding signs. It is extra money, which secures daily living, during employment time. Those who apply don’t need to present their incomes.

Personal Independence Payment is for people with long-term physical or mental health state, disability or difficulty with every-day tasks.

Adult disability payment also supports individuals with disability or condition which affects the life.

 

What is an exceptional circumstances request?

After you speak about your medical condition with the HR department, you can have an exceptional circumstances request where the employer is required under the Equality Act 2010 to discuss and implement the necessary adjustments you require, in order to perform at work in the limited capacity and under as much as your dyslexia allows you to fulfil. This way you will be assured that you took all the necessary steps to inform your employer of your medical condition, so that there will be no doubt that the employer is putting you at risk of being potentially discriminated.

This means that once a formal request for reasonable adjustments is put in place, the employer has the legal obligation under EA 2010 to honour it. For any reasons, if you chose not to disclose your disability with your employer, it is important to remember that ignorance is not a defence in law.

What does reasonable adjustment look like?

The company will provide for you changes called reasonable adjustment. Employers have the anticipatory duty to adapt workplace to your needs in terms of giving you opportunity to fulfil your tasks. Reasonable adjustment may take place in the form of various transformations and improvements.

First of all, supporting and trustworthy colleagues, who can proofread documents, indicate mistakes and help to solve them. Team meetings, during which instructions or changes in the company can be explained verbally, instead of presenting them in writing. Company may create recordings and promote digital devices, rather than create paper documents to read. Understanding, that some dyslectic employees need more time than others to perform their tasks may give positive changes for the whole company, reduce stress and anxiety among all employees.

 

How can I help ensure the help is being implemented?

You may wish to discuss with your employer on putting in place a documentation known as “Record of Conversation”, which then can be substantiated as proof of reasonable adjustments in progress of being implemented, but in the same time your employer’s genuine commitment to give you the support you need to perform at best of your abilities.

What if required support is not implemented?

In a worst-case scenario, if you believe the required support from your organisation was not implemented, you have the right to seek further legal advice, through services such as: Citizens Advise, a trading union, Pro bono legal advice, ACAS, or an employment law solicitor. Under Equality Act 2010 s.15(1) as long as you have made your employer aware of your dyslexia and there is documentation of your formal requests, you may have a claim against the company. For example, ACAS offers mediation between you and the employer known as “Alternative Dispute Resolution” which is a practice favoured before any claims can be brought to an Employment Tribunal.

What other government protections should I be aware of?

Dyslexia doesn’t mean that individuals are left alone with their problems. There are several statutes, dyslectic person can rely on.

Equality Rights Act protects people from discrimination in society and workplaces. The act describes rights of disabled but also gives advice how to combat discrimination, where discriminated person can complain, use mediation or make a claim in a court or employment tribunal.

Employment Rights Act 1996 gives strict indications about duties, which employer should perform towards employees with disability. The most important is taking care of the employee, trust and cooperation between employer and employee.

Act gives indications to employer, who is obliged to provide safe system of work, methods, which all employees understand, protective clothes, relevant training and efficient supervision. Employer is also responsible to take reasonable steps and ensure that employees are competent with positive attitude towards their workplace and disabled colleagues.

It is worth mentioning Human Rights Act 1998, which protects everyone, gives humanity rights and freedoms, gives right to life in peaceful environment. Human Rights Act states that everyone is entitled to all rights and freedoms without distinction of any kind. Human Rights Act consists of rights and freedoms classified in articles. Article 14 is related to discrimination. It is important that all humans will enjoy the same human rights, freedom of expression (art 10), prohibition of abuse of rights (art 17).

What does discrimination look like?

If you are employee of the company and know that you have dyslexia you should inform your employer immediately about your condition as employer’s duty is to adapt the workplace to your needs. This will help to create environment of equality and support. These changes are defined as reasonable adjustment. If company, despite having the knowledge about your disability, fails to create the reasonable adjustment, may be recognized as discriminating person with dyslexia.

According to Equality Act 2010 duty of reasonable adjustment consists of three requirements:

1. First of all, disabled person needs to be supported to be able to work and fulfill tasks as person, who is not disabled.

2. Provision, criterion and practice should be changed for easy understanding.

3. regards equipment, which should be adapted for use of disabled individuals and create equality between employees.

If these three requirements of reasonable adjustment are not met, the company may be recognised as employer discriminating a person with disability. Discrimination, harassment and victimisation are conducts prohibited at workplaces.

What can I do if I suspect an employer is using my dyslexia/learning difficulty to sabotage my work ?

In these circumstances, you would need to be certain of the implied suspicion regarding your employer’s interference with your work performance. If this turns to be true, then ensure you document along with evidence of your findings and make a record of time and date with examples of such interference.

Once you have gathered the required information, you can approach a higher up manager and then HR. Before any legal matter is brought further you are advised to follow the company internal processes. Please be assured that under the Equality Act 2010, the employer has a legal obligation to put in place reasonable adjustments to support your day –to day work.

With HR you are advised to check if you have disclosed your dyslexia. Under Equality Act 2010 s.15(1)  you are required to satisfy that your employer has been formally made aware of your disability, followed by being documented and kept in your employment file. If this has not occurred, at your earliest convenience you are advised to speak about your medical condition with the HR department, followed by an exceptional circumstances request where the employer is required
under the Equality Act 2010 to discuss and implement the necessary adjustments you require, in order to perform at work in the limited capacity and under as much as your dyslexia allows you to
fulfil.

What does documenting suspected work sabotage mean?

This means that you can have a daily diary where you document as best as you can through colour coding or schematics, whichever means you find helpful to document the behaviour which can be seen either indirect or direct discriminatory behaviour, which fall under the Equality Act 2010.

What can I do if I think my employer is using me as a scapegoat?

Every employee is an individual, therefore you are advised to seek support under the Equality Act 2010.  What is meant by this, is that your employer must follow a company protocol. It is very important to mention your disability to your employer as early as possible, even though it's not a legal requirement. However, if you do then you will not be at higher risk of being potentially discriminated, and also you will not give the employer the opportunity to focus on your disability rather than your skills, experience and performance. This way your employer will not be inclined to use your disability as a scape goat, which in turn can affect
your day today performance.

The normal process where the reasonable adjustments are put in place is up to maximum 12 weeks, therefore in the interim you may wish to speak to your employer on how can better practices be
accommodated informally.

I believe my employer is deliberately turning a blind eye or simply ignoring the possibility that they may need to take action in support of my dyslexia. What can I do?

If you believe the employer is turning a blind eye or does not provide you with the necessary support, you are advised to seek support from the HR department in the first instance. HR has the obligation to keep conversations confidential and you may seek a formal hearing where this can be discussed.

In these hearings you have the right to be accompanied by a union representative ( if you are part of a union) who can better present your case and circumstances and voice the reasonable adjustment you require. In other cases, you may wish to be accompanied by a work colleague who can also support you in explaining the adjustments you require.

With HR you are advised to check if you have disclosed your dyslexia. Under Equality Act 2010 s.15(1) you are required to satisfy that your employer has been formally made aware of your disability, followed by being documented and kept in your employment file.

If this has not occurred, at your earliest convenience you are advised to speak about your medical condition with the HR department. 

What if my employer doesn't provide reasonable adjustments?

If your employer fails to provide any reasonable adjustments without a reasonable explanation or a delay in implementation for these the next step would be to raise a formal grievance. Details of your company’s grievance procedure can usually be located in the company handbook. You should put your grievance in writing, where you will then be invited to a formal grievance hearing to discuss this in detail which also has the right to be accompanied by a work colleague or trade union rep should you wish. At the end of the grievance process you will be issued an outcome which will either uphold your grievance and indicate any corrective action (such as implementation of the adjustment), partly uphold (meaning that some of the grievance is upheld other parts not) or not upheld. Whichever the outcome the company should provide a written outcome detailing the reasons behind the decision and giving you the right to appeal. If the company are struggling to support or identify reasonable adjustments an occupational health assessment may be considered to assist in this too.

Should the adjustments still not be implemented, you can appeal the decision which will go to a different person in the business, usually of a higher position.

You should also consider if a constructive dismissal claim is the correct route for you. Dyslexia is categorised as a disability under the equality act and therefore if you resign from your position due to discriminatory actions by your employer you may be able to bring a claim for disability discrimination (see question 7 for more information on this) in addition to a claim for failing to make reasonable adjustments.

You may still look for mediations with your employer and Legal Acts and regulations may be supportive in achieving the agreement.

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is legislation, which encourages employers to adhere reasonable adjustment at workplaces. It describes duty of each employer towards safety at workplace for protection of all employees and their health. Also, Health and Safety Regulations 1996 describe necessity of consultation between employers and employees regarding introduction of new technologies and equipment, which may affect health and safety.

Employment Rights Act 1996 in section 44 contains the health and safety indications, that “employee has the right not to be subjected to any detriment by any act or any deliberate failure to act by his employer”.

Sometimes it is good to achieve settlement agreement, which is a resolution between disputing parties before the court actions begin. You might agree with employer a compensation if the company is not able to adapt your workplace to your needs. Sometimes it is worth to ask for help from legal professionals as some agreements may contain restrictive covenants, which may prevent you from working from someone else for an agreed period of time.

If you decide to leave the company by constructive dismissal you may be entitled to financial compensation. Employer can be sued for 5 week’s pay for each year, which you worked if you are under 22. Pay of 1 week for each year worked if you are between 22 and 41. 5 week’s pay for each full year worked, when you are 41 or older. Case for constructive dismissal requires to leave job immediately as employer may gain the argument that you accepted the condition of your employment.

What are some mediations I can reach with my employer?

You may still look for mediations with your employer and Legal Acts and regulations may be supportive in achieving the agreement.

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is legislation, which encourages employers to adhere reasonable adjustment at workplaces. It describes duty of each employer towards safety at workplace for protection of all employees and their health. Also, Health and Safety Regulations 1996 describe necessity of consultation between employers and employees regarding introduction of new technologies and equipment, which may affect health and safety.

Employment Rights Act 1996 in section 44 contains the health and safety indications, that “employee has the right not to be subjected to any detriment by any act or any deliberate failure to act by his employer”.

Sometimes it is good to achieve settlement agreement, which is a resolution between disputing parties before the court actions begin. You might agree with employer a compensation if the company is not able to adapt your workplace to your needs. Sometimes it is worth to ask for help from legal professionals as some agreements may contain restrictive covenants, which may prevent you from working from someone else for an agreed period of time.

If you decide to leave the company by constructive dismissal you may be entitled to financial compensation. Employer can be sued for 5 week’s pay for each year, which you worked if you are under 22. Pay of 1 week for each year worked if you are between 22 and 41. 5 week’s pay for each full year worked, when you are 41 or older. Case for constructive dismissal requires to leave job immediately as employer may gain the argument that you accepted the condition of your employment.

Should I seek constructive dismissal if my request for reasonable adjustment is not met?

Constructive dismissal is a type of unfair dismissal claim where an employee resigns from their position due to the breakdown within the working relationship which cannot be repaired, or from suffering a severe breach of your employment terms and conditions, also referred to as constructive unfair dismissal. You need to have 2 years’ service to bring a claim of constructive dismissal and claims are because of a last resort, meaning you may have exhausted all other options and left with no other option but to resign (in most cases with immediate effect). The claim can be based on one significant breach or a series of events which build up to mount together. Constructive dismissal claims have quite a high bar to reach, so it is important that all other options are explored before considering a constructive dismissal claim to support your case.

You should first speak to your line manager or HR department with what support you may need and how the company may be able to facilitate these with you. If the company is unable to meet these reasonable adjustments, it is important to explore why and what other alternatives may be suitable too.