Alex Lowery speaks about autism

Should an autistic worker have to disclose their diagnosis?

Written on 13th Jun 2018 by Sylvia Lowery

As part of my role I have been learning about employment law and health and safety at work. I was particularly interested to read about employee duties under Sections 7 and 8 of the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA )

‘General duties of employees at work.

It shall be the duty of every employee while at work—

(a)to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work; and

(b)as regards any duty or requirement imposed on his employer or any other person by or under any of the relevant statutory provisions, to cooperate with him so far as is necessary to enable that duty or requirement to be performed or complied with.’

The course I am studying suggests that an employee may be in breach of this law if they fail to disclose a disability. I wonder where this leaves an autistic employee. I did some research around this subject and it seems that you do not have to inform your employer about your disability unless you are aware that something might pose a risk to yourself or someone else.

Guidance for employees

As an employee, you should:


Take reasonable care of your own health and safety and the health and safety of anyone who might be affected by what you are doing;


Cooperate with your employer on health and safety issues. This includes listening, following instructions and training, and using any safety equipment that has been provided;


Inform your employer or manager if you see something that might harm you or someone else.


You do not have to disclose your disability (Crown Copyright, 2015)..


  • Employer duties at work

The law

Health and safety is sometimes used as an excuse to justify discrimination against disabled workers. This should not happen.

There are no health and safety regulations specific to disabled people only. The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA) requires employers to protect all workers from the risk of injury or harm at work, so far as is reasonably practicable. This includes those who may be affected by their work activities.

Under health and safety law, every employer must ensure the health and safety of all their employees, whether they have a disability or not, so far as reasonably practicable (Crown Copyright, 2015).

Disclose of diagnosis brings benefits

There are benefits to telling your employer about your diagnosis.

  1. You are protected under the 2010 equality Act  This makes it unlawful for employers to treat an employee with a disability less favourably than other employees for any reason connected with their disability, unless there is justification for such action (Equality Act 2010).


  1. An employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace for disabled workers. This means that as far as is reasonably possible a worker a worker has access all the resources needed to keep a job. A disabled worker can also get support through Access to work. This is provided in the form of a gran



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Organisations Alex has worked with

  • Autism Cymru
  • Chester University
  • Glyndwr University
  • National Autistic Society
  • St John's Ambulance
  • Welsh Government

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