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The Buckland Review of Autism Employment

View profile for Shay Winstanley
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The Buckland Review of Autism Employment

A report has been recently published surrounding research and recommendations regarding autistic people in the workplace, which was headed by Sir Robert Buckland KC MP.

According to the report, only around three in ten working age autistic disabled people are currently in employment, which is considerably low when compared with around five in ten for all disabled people and eight in ten for non-disabled people. The report highlights a wide range of potential reasons behind this that present as barrier to employment for autistic people. This included poor preparation by employers, unfair hiring practices, unclear processes and outdated attitudes.

It is also highlighted that many autistic people struggle to maintain long-term employment. Reasons behind this include not receiving access to necessary support or adjustments or not being aware of their legal rights to reasonable adjustments. Only around 35% of autistic employees are fully open about being autistic, with one in ten not disclosing to anyone at work. Many who do choose to disclose this will do so after they have started their role, which highlights the fear of discrimination during the recruitment process.

The report states that around one third of autistic employees felt unable to discuss their adjustment needs at all, and of those who did request adjustments, over a quarter were refused and more than one in ten found the adjustment was poorly implemented. Employers and managers often report poor knowledge of autism and feel under-prepared to identify and implement adjustments for autistic people.

This highlights a significant risk to businesses. Where reasonable adjustment requests are rejected or not effective, this can lead to a breakdown in the relationship between and employee and employer. An employee may choose to raise a formal grievance regarding their complaint or they could present a claim for failure to make reasonable adjustments to the employment tribunal.

The report goes on to make a number of recommendations including:

  • Initiatives to improve awareness and reduce stigma
  • Recruitment practices that properly support autistic applicants
  • Supporting autistic people already in work
  • Encouraging and supporting career progression

The report highlights clear barriers for autistic people, in particular in relation to current recruitment practices. It is therefore important that businesses take steps to consider their current recruitment practices and whether any suitable adjustments could be made to support autistic applicants throughout the process. Businesses should consider thereafter what adjustments they can make to support autistic employees during their employment.

If you are a business looking to consider your current practices and what you can do to improve accessibility, or you are an employee who feels that they are not receiving adequate support during an interview process or throughout employment, please get in touch with our specialist team on 0161 696 6170.