Telling Your Employer You Have a Disability

Telling Your Employer You Have a Disability

“There’s no right time to disclose a disability. It’s an entirely personal decision, and the only right way to handle it is to do what you feel is right for you…”

Recently at CV Knowhow, we’ve been thinking about disability and mental health in the workplace.  If you have a disability, it can be hard to decide when (or if) to raise this with a potential employer.

There is no legal obligation to tell your employer you have a disability during the recruitment process (Equal Opportunities monitoring forms should not be used to inform decisions about progressing an application).  Recruiters should choose the right person for the job and the Equalities Act prevents discrimination on the grounds of disability.

Here, we debate the impact of disclosing a disability at each stage of the recruitment process.


On your CV or application form

Pros: If the employer knows up-front about your disability, they can make suitable adjustments for you at interview stage.  You may also be able to access the Guaranteed Interviews offered by some companies.

Cons: Despite being illegal, it’s recognised that disability discrimination does still exist.  By declaring your disability on your CV, there’s the potential that you may not be called for an interview even if you’re qualified to do the role in every way.


Cover letter

Pros: You can explain a disability more fully in a letter than you can on a CV and also lay to rest any concerns an employer may have about your ability to do the job.  It also enables you to explain any gaps in your CV arising as a result of your condition.

Cons: Unless you can highlight strong positives regarding your disability, a declaration won’t add anything valuable to your application.  In this case, you may risk a potential employer’s first impression of you being “a disabled person” rather than “a competent professional”.


At interview

Pros: You can use this opportunity to demonstrate beyond doubt that you are more than capable of doing the job in question.  By acknowledging your disability, you can explain how you can overcome challenges, overturn pre-conceived weaknesses the interviewer may see and focus on the positives of your disability that other applicants may not have.

Cons: You risk the interview becoming focused on your disability, rather than your ability to do the job.


When you get a job offer or start work

Pros: You’re now well-placed to discuss with the employer any adjustments you may need going forward.  Disclosing your disability at this stage also ensures you start your new role off with a clean slate, with both you and the employer knowing the situation and feeling confident with your honesty.

Cons: You may feel that you’re now too far down the line to disclose a disability, or that you don’t want to risk discrimination now you’ve come so far.



Pros: There’s no need to share personal information you’re not comfortable sharing, especially if you’re confident it won’t impact your ability to do your job.  If you have an invisible disability, you will also be able to avoid questions or attitudes from colleagues that you may not be comfortable dealing with.

Cons: If your disability impacts your ability to do the job, an employment tribunal will probably rule that your employer couldn’t be expected to make reasonable adjustments if they didn’t know about your disability in the first place.


The right time

As you can see, there’s no right time to disclose a disability.  It’s an entirely personal decision, and the only right way to handle it is to do what you feel is right for you and your career.  You are in control of this aspect of recruitment and can do it on your terms and in your own words.  If you do decide to disclose, do it confidently and positively, making it as easy as possible for a recruiter to employ you.


If you’re looking for specialised CV advice, give us a call in the office on 01744 832 589 and one of our CV Consultants can give you the help, support and advice you need to create a successful CV and apply with confidence.

Jen has been a CV Consultant since 2010 and currently works for CV Knowhow, the UK’s leading career and CV writing consultancy. She has written CVs for thousands of job seekers from all industries and at all stages in their career, from students to senior executives. Jen aims to add value to CVs, enabling her customers to increase their chances of securing an interview and progress in their chosen career.