Greater action among Australian businesses for gender, cultural and disability inclusivity is on the rise. Which is fantastic. But there is still a long way to go for some businesses to remove the barriers that many people face in the workforce so they can ensure that everyone has equal opportunity to succeed at work. To make this happen, it is important for employers and employees to talk about accessibility in their place of work.
Accessibility at work… what is it?
Everyone should have equal access to work. And in fact, it is illegal to discriminate against a person in the workforce based on their disability. Yet, people with disability are still facing challenges of discrimination in everyday life. As a business, ensuring accessibility can mean:
Physical accessibility i.e., stairs, ramps, elevators
Access to suitable bathroom facilities
Lighting, visibility, and signage
Parking, building and floor access
Access to technology, IT and other software
The tools required to do the job
Ensuring that the appropriate accessibility is available in the workplace is vital.
Do you need to tell your employer if you have a disability?
As an employee with disability, you are only required to inform your employer if you have a disability if it directly affects your ability to do your job or could put your safety or the safety of others around you in danger. If your disability does not affect your job in that way, disclosing if you have a disability is completely at your discretion.
There are occasions where it may be of benefit to disclose this information to assist your employer in making reasonable accessibility adjustments.
Why accessibility is good for everyone
Simply put… it’s a win-win. If an employer creates an accessible environment for their employees, then their employees are more likely to thrive and succeed at work. If the company that you work for has not thought fully about the accessibility of their workplace, you may need to speak up. You should never be afraid to advocate for yourself at work, but if you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself then you may be able to discuss this with an advocate who can assist you in asserting your needs. Most employer will be supportive and work with you to ensure a solution.
But how do I start the conversation?
If for example, your company has changed the IT systems or procedures, and they are not accessible in the way that you need then it’s important to have a conversation to discuss the issues that you are facing.
To do this:
Determine who the right person is to discuss this with. It may be a supervisor or a direct manager. If you would like support, you can have a colleague, or an advocate attend the discussion with you.
It’s important to organise a dedicated time and location that work for both you and your employer. You don’t want to feel rushed in the conversation and you want to ensure that you have your employer’s full attention.
Make notes of key points that you want to discuss so you don’t forget anything important.
Let your employer know what exactly you want them to do. By explaining the situation clearly, and providing examples if relevant, it will help your employer to understand the situation and make the appropriate changes.
Be open to discussion. Sometimes your employer may need time to investigate options and come back to you with another discussion.
Resources for employers and employees
Read more about the benefits of working with an independent, professional Plan Manager. Alternatively, contact our friendly team on 1300 322 273 or email@example.com.