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Embracing neurodiversity at work

20 March 2024

We’re supporting Neurodiversity celebration week, which takes place from 18th to 24th March 2024. Here, our employment law team share insight into neurodiversity in the workplace and what employers can do to embrace it.

Each of us is an individual with a unique view and experience of life. ‘Neurodiversity’ is a concept that recognises and respects the natural variation in human brains and neurological traits. It promotes acceptance, accommodation and celebration of the diverse ways in which people experience and interact with the world.

Studies show that around 15 – 20% of the population is ‘neurodivergent,’ meaning they have a neurological difference. This includes conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, Tourette’s syndrome, and many others.

Neurodivergent employees can often possess highly creative and innovative thinking and can bring those unique strengths to the benefit of the workplace. For example, some excel in tasks requiring meticulous attention to detail, and can offer different perspectives to their ‘neurotypical’ colleagues.

How can employers familiarise themselves with neurodiversity and take active steps to embrace it?

Employers should create a supportive environment for their employees, which will help neurodivergent employees to flourish, and drive the overall success of their business. This could include steps such as providing quiet, low stimulating work areas and adapting methods of communication and working. Open conversation should also be encouraged, and inclusive processes should be introduced as early as during the recruitment process.

It’s important to note that recognised neurodivergent diagnoses may qualify as a disability under the Equality Act 2010, meaning a neurodivergent employee has protection against unlawful discrimination, harassment, and victimisation. Employers should always be mindful of the positive duty to make reasonable adjustments (such as those detailed above) if they are aware of an employee’s disability status.

Not all neurodivergent employees will be considered disabled under the Equality Act, but it is always prudent to have inclusive policies and procedures in place, and to create an inclusive, diverse and supported workforce.

Implementing focused training sessions can improve managers’ understanding and awareness of neurodiversity, to help harness and nurture the skills of your neurodivergent employees, whilst mitigating legal risks such as harassment claims stemming from inappropriate and discriminatory comments.

If you would like help with how your organisation can make a lasting impact, please get in touch with our employment law team. We can assist with examining procedures and policies to ensure they are inclusive enough and well-suited to support neurodivergent colleagues, not only for a week but on a daily basis.

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Neurodiversity Celebration Week is a worldwide initiative taking place from 18th to 24th March 2024. It aims to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences. 

Disclaimer: All legal information is correct at the time of publication but please be aware that laws may change over time. This article contains general legal information but should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please seek professional legal advice about your specific situation - contact us; we’d be delighted to help.
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Jenny Hawrot LLB (Hons)
Partner
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Jenny Hawrot
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