I am sure you are aware that anyone with a disability is entitled to reasonable adjustments to be made to remove any substantial disadvantage that they are at in the recruitment processes that you put in place.  You can only make such adjustments if somebody shares with you what their disability is and what that substantial disadvantage they might be at is.

The Government Legal Service has recently got into trouble in relation to a lady applying for a position who happened to have Asperger’s syndrome.  She had to undertake a multiple choice test which is used to narrow down candidates and filter those who would go through to the next stage.  The pass mark was set at 14 and the individual scored just 12 and claimed she should have been allowed to write out her answers rather than follow the multiple choice format.  The Tribunal had no problem with the employer having a test as an efficient method of narrowing down the field but found that the test was indirectly discriminatory: with her disabilities it placed her at a detriment.  This put the onus on the Government Legal Service to then justify their process as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim and it was in this aspect that they failed.

The case was taken on appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal and they ruled in favour of the individual.  With the benefit of hindsight the employer can probably see that they would have been better off to allow the adjustments the individual was asking for to allow her to have gone through to the next stage in the recruitment process – it doesn’t mean they would have had to recruit her if she wasn’t the best candidate. She just needed to be given a level playing field on which to demonstrate her skills and abilities alongside the other candidates – that is the whole purpose of the reasonable adjustment.

Employers need to review their recruitment processes particularly as regards those who may have less visible or obvious disabilities and understand that having a set test which is identical for everybody isn’t necessary fair and can actually put somebody at a disadvantage.  The National Autistic Society emphasises that setting hypothetical questions is problematic for those who are autistic.