Last reviewed: November 2023
Also in this guidance
- Adjustments Planner guidance: What the Planner is, who is disabled, and what adjustments are
- The law on discussing disability before a job has been offered: For employers and disabled students
- Adjustments Planner: Guidance for employers
There is always something to do when you have disability or long-term condition. Extra admin, more forms, asking for adjustments, or even just everyday management required to manage your disability. When you are leaving your education course and looking for a job, it is a busy time and can be stressful in itself, let alone with everything else needed to manage the ‘disability’ related part of moving from college or university to employment.
But it’s not complicated. It should be exciting. Education is a long time in someone’s life and, for people with a disability or long-term condition, it may not have always been easy. There can be so much information in so many different places that it can feel overwhelming and it can be unclear what you should do next or be thinking about when applying for and getting a job. We have designed this guidance to simple, clear, and to just give you the key information you need about considering which jobs to apply for and what you might need to do them.
Completing the Planner
The Adjustment Planner is long and wordy. This combination does not suit everyone. You also do not have to use the Adjustments Planner at all – you can still discuss adjustments and/or your disability in any way that you want to with employers or your university. Using the Adjustments Planner is entirely optional. It is there for you to use only if you would find it helpful to do so.
What the planner covers:
The Planner and take you through considering what adjustments you use for the following situations:
- Travel to work.
- Accessing education or work premises. This section is about considering the physical premises.
- Communication support in education and work.
- Specialist IT programmes.
- Specialist equipment and coping at work.
- Adaptations to equipment you already use.
- Support while you are at work.
These sections may seem a lot in the Planner. Don’t worry if it is. You do not need to complete all of the Planner even if you choose to use it. Remember it is a tool for you to use as you wish. Therefore, if you want to complete some sections only or just to make notes to support you when the time is right to have a conversation with a new employer, that’s fine. Also remember that work is often very different to college and university, and you will get use to how you work and what you need as you settle into your job. You therefore do not need to know all of the adjustments you will ever need in your job now. The main three things to focus on at this stage are:
- Think about the jobs and work setting you want to apply for. The job and the work environment are two different things:
- The job – this includes the knowledge and skills you will use and the tasks you carry out.
- The work setting – this includes the environment in which you do that job.
For example, you might be looking for a job as a social researcher. The work environment you do this in might be a small organisation where everyone works from home, or it might be for a Government agency with some home working and some office working, or it might be full time in the office with a larger global organisation. It might also be in the public sector, the private sector, or the charity sector. Or, you might be looking for a role in engineering. You might want to find a desk-based role focussed on regulation and patenting, or you might want to be involved in programming and design working for a small, local organisation. Alternatively, you might want to work in the beauty industry using engineering to develop new products, in the armed forces where you may travel around the world, or in a private sector organisation based in, for example, a landing bay or workshop to practically develop and test specific parts of machinery or transport infrastructure. Although these roles may involve some similar skills, they are likely to feel very different in terms of their operations and culture.
- Concentrate on understanding the application process for each job you want to apply for and be clear what you need to be able to complete the application and the recruitment process. For example, if you are a lip-reader and a recruitment activity involves speaking in a group, make sure you let the recruiter know that you will need one person to speak at a time and for it to be made clear who is speaking at any one time (for example). Equally, if you know an interview and assessment will be two hours long and you have more energy in the morning, ask if there is a choice of times and that you’d prefer a morning slot.
- During the application and interview process, find out more about the job. You can ask the employer or manager what a typical day will be like, where you will be working, and with how many other people. Then, when you have this information, you can come away and think about what adjustments you might want to discuss with the employer if you are offered the job. As above though, you don’t need to know everything you may need at this stage. The employer will discuss this with you if you are offered the job.
Applying for help from Access to Work
You may have a Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) that you have used during college or university. For employees, there is a different scheme called Access to Work. It essentially does the same thing as a DSA does in university – it provides assessments and funding for your adjustments. However, it is a different process, and run by a different area of Government. Even if you have a DSA, you will need to do a separate application for Access to Work. However, not everyone who had a DSA can get Access to Work, and not everyone who has Access to Work had a DSA when they are at university. Our research shows that 77 per cent of disabled employees had either a DSA or Access to Work, but not both.
The planner says you can apply to Access to Work. However, Access to Work is not available to everyone in every sector. This includes the following:
- You are not eligible for Access to Work if you work for the Civil Service. Be mindful of this if you are applying for jobs in Government. Civil Service departments need to fund adjustments from their own internal budgets.
- You must live and work (or about to start work) in England, Scotland, or Wales. You are not eligible for Access to Work if you live anywhere else.
- You cannot get Access to Work for voluntary work. Your role must be a paid role and can include self, employment. An apprenticeship, a work trial or work experience, an internship, or a workplace. Your job can be full or part time, though.
- You can only apply for Access to Work if you are already in paid work, if you are about to start paid work within the next 12 weeks, or if you have an interview with an employer.
In addition, the organisation you are applying to may choose not to use Access to Work to provide employees with adjustments. Employers do not have to use this scheme. Therefore, before you apply, check with the employer if this is the right process to follow. Some larger employers have their own companies who provide adjustments. Therefore, if you want to request adjustments when you know you have a job, ask your employer or the employer who has offered you a job how you should go about requesting and arranging adjustments. Every employer has different processes.
Giving your Adjustments Planner to an employer
Just as all employers’ processes for getting adjustments are different, so are the tools they use to discuss adjustments. Many employers have a “Disability Passport”, and “Adjustments Passport”, or a “Workplace Support Plan” which are all essentially the same thing as this Planner – they help you plan for and discuss your adjustments with an employer or manager.
Employers have documents often with their own company branding. They may also not be a Word document like this Adjustments Planner. An employer may have the equivalent of their Adjustments Planner on a secure website or app. This means that you may find you share this Adjustments Planner with your employer, and they may instead ask you to speak to your manager about completing a different form. The employer is not trying to be difficult; it is right that they keep their processes consistent.
This Adjustment Planner might then be best used to help you plan conversations, so that an employer can capture that information during a discussion with you and they can then put that information into the form they use. Employers’ forms are often much shorter than this Adjustments Planner and will not often take you as long to think through and complete.
Decide what you want to share about your disability
If other people can see you have a disability or that you are using support or adjustments, you may feel that you don’t have a choice whether to tell an employer if you have a disability. You do, however, have a choice about the details you share and when you share them. Employers should focus on the adjustments you need for the application and interview. They should not be asking for details about your disability before they have offered you a job.
You can read the section on “Discussing disability and the law”. This section is about when employers can and cannot ask you questions about your disability. Please read this section if you have not already done so, as it will help you understand what employers can and cannot discuss with you about your disability when you apply for a job.
Some last few tips from other disabled graduates
- Plan your job searching. Employers do things in really different ways to one another, meaning you may have to complete a different application for each organisation you apply to. Disabled students often tell us that this was time consuming, and often had a huge impact of their mental and physical energy. You may find it helpful to set yourself specific times to spend on looking for a job throughout the week around everything else you have to do, including managing your disability. This can mean ‘booking’ your job searching in your calendar as you would a meeting or seminar. Commit to starting and finishing at the time of that ‘meeting’ and plan these times for when you work best. This can help ensure you can write the best application possible or do any pre-application screening or assessments when you are at your ‘best’ time of day or week.
- Plan your conversations with employers. If you need to tell an employer or a manager anything about yourself at any time, plan the conversation before you have it. Be clear about what you want out of the conversation. Ensuring you know what you want a conversation to achieve will help you get what you need from it. For example, you might just want a discussion with someone to get their thoughts or advice; you might want to let someone know that you have a disability (for example) just to share it with them; or you might want to ask for something specific from the person. For example, “I just wanted you know”, or “I have a metabolic condition and I sometimes need to attend hospital appointments so I am letting you know I may need to request this in the future”, or “I have ADHD I am therefore asking if it would be ok to…”. Make sure the person you are telling leaves the conversation knowing what they need to do to help and support you.
- This Planner can help structure a helpful conversation between you and an employer. It is not a list of adjustments that the employer ‘must’ make. It is often the case that adjustments someone used at university will need to be changed or altered to suit the workplace. This is fine and it is very common. The key thing is to engage with your new employer in conversation about what you find difficult and the adjustments that will help. You may even find many employers can offer more adjustments, and a much wider range of adjustments, than could be offered to you at university. Remain solutions-focussed when you speak to employers, and assume the employer is trying to help you. If you feel angry or upset during a conversation, keep calm, and try to explain to them why you are feeling this way. You may also decide to have a short break from the conversation and ask to come back to it later when you have had a chance to think about things a little more. This is fine to do. Employers will appreciate you communicating with them and being clear about what you need.
- Remember, you are in control. Details about your disability, your body and your life are yours to share when you want to. Notice how you are being treated and if it feels right to you. Not all organisations treat everyone in the way they should do. This is unfortunate, and you have rights under the UK Equality Act 2010 to help you challenge this. However, that can take a long time, it can cost you money, and it can be stressful and draining in your energy. While we would not encourage anyone away from using their legal rights, this is not for everyone. Ultimately, if any process or organisation is not treating you well, you should consider if that is the place where you want to focus your energy on applying to, and if it is an organisation you want to be part of.
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