Flexible Workplace, Flexible Workforce
Workplace adaptations (know as ‘reasonable adjustments’) for an autistic person in the workplace are often very easy to introduce: there may be no cost but these small changes can make a huge difference to the autistic employee and therefore to their effectiveness and productivity at work. The changes can – and often do – also enhance the employment experience of current employees.
What will be useful will depend on the person, so it is very important that adjustments are individualised. Sometimes the person will be able to identify the changes they need and make them, on other occasions the employer may need to implement the change.
It is useful to bear in mind that adjustments generally depend on an employee making a decision to raise an issue. For many adults on the autism spectrum, defining themselves as disabled or having a health condition is a complex and personal set of decisions. Taking the decision to discuss an autism spectrum condition with an employer is often something people approach with a range of uncertainties and concerns.
As an employer, one of the most helpful starting points is to listen carefully, keep an open mind and not jump to any conclusions.
As noted above, often these small changes will also be of benefit to other employees – for example good communication, clearly defined procedures and structures and willingness to be flexible are positives for the whole workplace.
Under the Equality Act 2010, autism and Asperger’s Syndrome are defined as disabilities, and employers have a responsibility under this Act to make any reasonable adjustments to remove disadvantage faced due to disability.
Adjustments can sometimes be funded through the Government scheme ‘Access to Work‘, more information about this can be found below.
Below you will find some real life examples of things that have made a difference to autistic people in Scotland, and some links to further information and advice about changes that might be made.