Article written by Noella Gooden, Solicitor (Australian qualified), Employment department
This year, ‘World Dyslexia Awareness Week’ will run from 3-9 October 2022. This annual event aims to raise awareness of dyslexia amongst the public, educational institutions, and employers.
If you are an employee with dyslexia, it is important you know what support should be available to you. In this article, we look at an employer’s legal duty to make reasonable adjustments and what kind of adjustments should be made to enable employees with dyslexia to carry out their work.
According to the Dyslexia Association, dyslexia affects one in ten across the UK population and many people are being diagnosed later in life. Employers should not adopt a ‘one size fits all’ solution for every employee as it can affect people very differently. Additionally, one in twenty five UK adults have ‘severe dyslexia’.
Duty to make reasonable adjustments
Under the Equality Act 2010, employers have a legal responsibility to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace for those with disabilities. Dyslexia falls under the scope of the legislation and is recognised as a disability. This is because dyslexic employees can be substantially disadvantaged in the workplace compared to those without the condition.
However, despite dyslexia being the most common disability present in a workplace, the right adjustments are often not made, and the condition is not clearly understood or overlooked. Therefore, it is important that employers understand their legal responsibility and take this seriously, so their employees can work to the best of their ability, with dyslexia or without.
What kind of reasonable adjustments should your employer make?
The adjustments that must be made will depend on both the employee and the nature of their role. For the most part, many adjustments can be made with little cost or hassle to you or your employer, but they will make a huge difference to your work life and your ability to do your job.
Your employer should consider implementing other communication methods rather than writing, allowing more time for required written documents. They may also invest in quality spell checker programmes to assist with writing.
If you struggle with reading, there are some simple adjustments your employer could make. A simple adjustment is to provide instructions, feedback, or information verbally rather than written. They could also install a text-to-speech programme or screen reading software or adjust the colour of your screen to make it easier for you to read.
If you have issues with verbal communication, there are, again, simple steps your employer should take. For example, communicating in a quiet location free from any distractions or allowing you time to take notes for them to check before going off to work on any tasks as directed by your employer.