During Learning Disability Week, we delve into ways you can provide support for individuals with learning disabilities throughout their employment journey.

Supporting individuals with learning difficulties in the workforce has become increasingly crucial.

There are around 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. With the current employment rate for people with learning disabilities sitting at only 4.8%.

So, what can you do to support those with learning disabilities throughout the employee lifecycle?

Recruitment & Selection

The standard process of applying and interviewing for jobs can be difficult for those with learning disabilities. Some things you might consider to help mitigate this could be:

• Make job adverts accessible by using large print, simpler language, and ensuring they are compatible with screen readers.

• Focus on essential criteria – some desirable criteria might inadvertently discourage someone with a learning disability from applying.

• Make it clear on the job advert what someone needs to do and who they can contact if they require any reasonable adjustments for the application or interview process.

• Consider adapting the interview process for those with learning disabilities. Work trials can be a great alternative to formal interviews that can allow you to better assess a candidate’s skills on the job.

Managing employees with learning disabilities

It can often be daunting managing those with learning disabilities, particularly if you haven’t had experience working with or managing them before. Undertake unconscious bias training and familiarise yourself with reasonable adjustments to increase your confidence in having open conversations with those who might struggle. Every team member is different, so it is vital to treat everyone on an individual basis and tailor your support accordingly to give them the best employee experience.

Some examples of reasonable adjustments you might make are:

• Provide equipment that might support the employee with their work, e.g. dictation functions on a laptop.

• Adjust working hours to suit individual needs and get the best out of the person.

• Allow more time for tasks they might struggle with.

• Make sure instructions and tasks are given in the most appropriate way, for example verbal, written or visual.

• Meet with the team member regularly to check whether adjustments are working for them or any additional support is needed.

Employers are legally required to consider making reasonable adjustments. Failure to do so could result in a discrimination claim.

What can you do as a business?

The best way to make sure team members with learning disabilities feel supported in work, is to make sure there is open conversation in your workplace so that everyone can work together to support those with learning disabilities.

One way to do this is by breaking down common misconceptions to create a better work environment. Often there is an assumption that reasonable adjustments for team members will be costly. But on average, they only cost £75 per person. Managers can have concerns that those with learning disabilities will take more time off, but there is actually research to suggest those with learning disabilities are less likely to be off sick or late and more likely to stay in their role for longer, reducing absence rates and improving turnover. Making your workforce aware of these facts can support with a more inclusive culture.

Some additional ways you can create the best culture for those with learning disabilities include:

• Make policies and processes more accessible, for example creating easy read versions, or having overviews of policies available in video format.

• Engage with external services for support, resources and training such as Access to Work and Mencap.

• Invest in disability awareness training for the whole workforce to help team members recognise any misconceptions and gain an understanding of the struggles those with learning disabilities might face.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us.