How can you use disability passports to improve inclusion?

The Great British Workplace Adjustments Survey 2023 reveals disabled employees still face barriers at work and makes recommendations for employers to improve disability inclusion in their workplace.

The survey notes that disabled employees wait too long for reasonable adjustments and barriers remain even after adjustments have been made.

The report encourages employers to use disability passports.

What is a disability passport?

A disability passport is a document that a disabled employee and their line manager complete. It provides a framework within which to discuss the employee’s health and what changes can be made at work to assist them. Once these adaptations have been agreed the document is signed by both parties to indicate that the adjustments will be made and upheld. If the employee’s line manager changes, they do not have to explain their requirements again and the current arrangements will not be withdrawn.

How often should you review the disability passport?

Every time something changes. The passport is a record of what has already been agreed. Employees should not have to re-negotiate that, but there should be a conversation each time anything changes. Adjustments may need to be re-negotiated.

This includes when something changes for the employee or the employer. If adjustments need to be changed by the employer, the employer must discuss this kindly with the employee, give reasons, and discuss what different adjustments could be provided. Adjustments should be updated rather than removed.

How can disability passports facilitate conversations?

Ensure conversations between employees and managers happen, whether difficult, emotional, or uncomfortable. Improve colleagues’ comfort and confidence levels with such conversations. The passport should facilitate a conversation, not replace it.

How should you store disability passports?

Keep them in a safe, secure way. Passports contain sensitive, personal information. Accepting that managers and employees will keep them in personal cloud drives is not enough. Whether the information is kept on an HR system or in another digitally secure way, IT security and data protection policies must apply. Where and how these are stored and who can access the information must be communicated clearly to employees and managers.

How should you guide and train managers to use digital passports?

Train your managers on what the passport is, and how to discuss disability and adjustments with employees. Guide them on how to review agreed adjustments, including how to agree an appropriate review period. Embed training into induction, onboarding, and continuing professional development for managers.

How can you avoid the stigma of disability passports?

If you use passports, consider providing passports for everyone, not just disabled employees. Employees need different things to be at their best and a document that sets this out for everyone could both remove the stigma of having ‘a special document’ and enable all employees to thrive.

Source: Business Disability Forum: The Great Big Workplace Adjustments Survey 2023: Recommendations for employers (June 2023)