Support while in work

Information for people with disabilities on support while in work, including training and speaking to your employer about changes to your role or adjustments to your workplace.

Training for employees with disabilities

Employers should not discriminate against employees with disabilities in the way they offer or provide training.

Training opportunities

Your employer must not deny you training opportunities because you have a disability. Your employer must also make reasonable changes to improve the accessibility of a training programme. Changes might include:

  • providing individual training for employees with disabilities to use any adaptations or special equipment used in the workplace
  • providing training over a longer period for employees who can only go to a training course for a limited number of hours per day
  • providing training material in different formats, making sign language interpreters available and allowing trainees to bring a personal assistant on a course
  • adjusting premises used for training

Your employer might also:

  • train other staff to understand the organisation's policy towards people with disabilities
  • provide disability equality training for all staff
  • be an example of good practice by setting standards of accessibility within the organisation
  • make the services they are providing accessible to people with disabilities

Disability Discrimination Act

Your employer must meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). It is also important your employer makes sure that staff members understand the implications of the DDA and keep to it.

If you are in employment and become disabled

If you are in work and become disabled your employer must keep your job open for you. Find out about time off work, sick pay, the Access to Work scheme and reasonable adjustments.

Time off from work

Employers have responsibilities towards their employees, including managing planned and unplanned sick leave, helping staff plan a return to work.

If you take time off, try to keep in touch with your employer. This may include:

  • keeping in regular contact
  • asking to be kept up-to-date with what's happening at work
  • asking about your colleagues
  • asking for reassurance that details about your illness or disability stay confidential, if that's what you want

This should help you feel less isolated and lessen any worries you may have about taking time off or returning to work.

Statutory Sick Pay

If you are an employee and unable to work because of an illness or disability, you may be able to get Statutory Sick Pay. Some employers have their own sick pay scheme instead.

If you're still unable to work after 28 weeks or you cannot get Statutory Sick Pay, you can apply for Employment and Support Allowance.

Keeping your job open

Your employer should not put pressure on you to resign because you have now have a disability. Dismissing someone because they now have a disability is likely to be direct discrimination which is unlawful.

If you are covered by the DDA your employer has a legal duty to make reasonable changes to your work to allow you to carry out your job. These are known as 'reasonable adjustments'. You may be covered by the DDA if you have a condition or impairment that causes long-term and substantial difficulties which impact on your ability to carry out your day to day activities, such as:

  • asthma or diabetes
  • rheumatoid arthritis or motor neurone disease
  • dyslexia or autism

People with cancer, multiple sclerosis and HIV are covered by the DDA from when they are diagnosed. To find out if you are likely to be covered by the DDA, follow the link below.

Examples of reasonable adjustments

Reasonable adjustments may include:

  • a phased return to work, for example, working flexible hours or part-time
  • time off for medical treatment or counselling
  • allocating some tasks to another employee that can no longer be done easily by you
  • providing practical aids and technical equipment for you

Businesses and organisations vary in structure and size, so what may be 'reasonable' for one may not be so for another.

Access to Work scheme

Depending on your disability, a return to the same role may not be suitable. Your employer could speak to an Employment Service Adviser in your local Jobs and Benefits office to understand their responsibilities towards employees who have a disability. A solution to any problems employees have could be help provided through the 'Access to Work' scheme.

Planning to return to work

Discuss with your employer how they, and you, will manage helping you to return to work.

If you and your employer agree to formally let other people know about your disability (which may be a 'hidden' disability such as diabetes or a mental health condition) you should sign a consent form which gives your employer permission to tell one or more named individual(s). This is to meet the Data Protection Act.

Performance records

If you have to take time off for disability-related sick leave, it is good practice for your employer to record it separately from other sick absences.

Time off from work should not be recorded as an 'absence from work' if you're waiting for your employer to put reasonable adjustments in place or if your employer is conducting training for the use of these reasonable adjustments.

Leaving work

Your employer must first consider if you could do the job if all reasonable adjustments were put in place. Your employer may be able to dismiss you if, even with all reasonable adjustments, your disability means you cannot carry out your job.

A reasonable adjustment might include moving you to another suitable job if you cannot do your normal job. However, it may not be possible to move you into another role if the employer is a small organisation. Therefore dismissing you may be allowed.


If an employer is considering making people redundant, the reasons for selecting people for redundancy should not discriminate against you because you have a disability.

The reasons for selection should not put you at a disadvantage, unless there is a clear and fair reason. Nor should the employer treat you unfavourably because of something connected with your disability, unless they can fairly justify the treatment. For example, something connected with a disability might be having to work flexible hours for disability-related reasons.

If an employer is consulting about future redundancies, they should take reasonable steps to make sure you are included in the consultations.

The employer must make reasonable adjustments to any criteria used to select employees for redundancies, so that the criteria do not substantially disadvantage you. For example, it could be a reasonable adjustment for the employer to ignore disability-related sickness absence when using attendance as a criteria for selection.

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