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Neurodiversity tribunals continue to rise

A third of neurodiversity related claims in 2022 were from dyslexic employees

In 2022, 102 employment tribunals included claims of neurodiversity discrimination, according to employment law firm, Fox & Partners.

This is a continuation in the upward trend from 70 cases in 2020 to 93 cases in 2021. 

Workplace disputes often arise when neurodivergent employees feel that their performance at work is being unfairly rated for reasons that are related to their neurodiversity, according to Ivor Adair, partner at law firm Fox and Partners.

He told HR magazine: “Whereas many employers have become more aware of neurodiversity within their workforce, that is not yet translating into strategies that are working, as disputes  of this type are still making their way to employment tribunals.”

Read more: Neurodiversity: a legal perspective

More than two thirds (67%) of employees with invisible disabilities say they currently have to source support and reasonable adjustments at work alone, according to a study from DEI consultancy INvolve UK.

Invisible disabilities, also known as hidden disabilities, are not immediately apparent but can significantly impact normal activities of daily living. Examples include autism, dyslexia, and ADHD.

Adair said employers could avoid claims by training managers how to proactively discuss adjustments with employees. 

He said: “Employers will need to be astute to recognise in what way neurodivergent employees are disadvantaged by the workplace setup, be ready to discuss accommodations and ensure managers are trained so not to mishandle the situation.  

“Reasonable adjustments might include clear and specific instructions, a quiet workspace, longer core hours with break, or a mentor.  Much will depend on identifying what it is about the job the employee finds challenging, whilst maintaining their trust.”

Supporting neurodiverse employees will also lead to increased innovation and decision-making, according to Adair.

A study from Birkbeck University and charity Neurodiversity in Business found neurodivergent employees reported remarkable abilities and work strengths, as 80% reported hyperfocus, 78% creativity, 75% innovative thinking, 71% detail processing and 64% people being authentic at work.

He added: “Employers increasingly appreciate diversity of thought leads to improved decision-making and helps them compete more effectively. Retention and progression of neurodiverse individuals has a part to play in good risk management.

“It’s thought that about 15% to 20% of the population is neurodiverse. Employers can’t afford to be complacent.

“There is more at stake than reducing the risk of claims.  An inclusive culture invariability translates into a more productive and well governed workplace."

Read more: Harnessing the rich potential of neurodiverse talent