Under the Equality Act 2010, or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland, employers must protect employees against unfair treatment and give them access to equal opportunities in the workplace.
Employers are legally required to make reasonable adjustments to make sure that deaf staff and those with hearing loss are not disadvantaged at any time during their employment. This includes the recruitment process, training and development, day-to-day working environment, health and safety practices, flexible working arrangements and promotion opportunities.
Employees rights at work
Fair recruitment process
- Ensure job adverts make it clear that your organisation champions equality. Sign up for the Disability Confident scheme and include a badge on your advert.
- Offer communication support at interviews – we can provide BSL interpreters (by video or face to face), speech-to-text reporters, lipspeakers, electronic and manual notetakers, and deafblind interpreters.
- Ask the applicant if their hearing loss may impact their work when making a job offer so any required adjustments can be made before they start.
Accessible training and development
- Provide assistive technology, such as a conversation listener, to help staff with hearing loss access training sessions.
- Consider installing a hearing loop in training rooms to make training sessions more accessible to hearing aid users.
- Adjust the layout of the training room and use good lighting to help everybody see each other clearly – this is important for lipreading,
Inclusive working environment
- Check if deaf staff and those with hearing loss need to work somewhere quieter, away from background noise.
- Offer deaf awareness and sign language training to other staff to help them communicate more easily with deaf colleagues.
- Arrange a workplace assessment to identify any challenges being faced by employees with hearing loss so that solutions can be recommended.
Deaf-friendly health and safety practices
- An emergency evacuation plan should be available to deaf staff and those with hearing loss.
- Fire wardens must be aware of employees with hearing loss and able to communicate with them in an emergency – deaf awareness training is recommended.
- Make sure all public and private areas have visual flashing fire alarms installed.
Flexible working arrangements
- Deaf staff should be offered the same flexible working opportunities as other employees.
- Make sure employees with hearing loss are able to attend audiology appointments during working hours.
Equal access to promotion opportunities
- Employees with hearing loss should be given equal access to promotion opportunities if they have the right skills, abilities and experience.
- Reasonable adjustments must be made, if necessary, to enable deaf staff to apply for a promotion, transfer or secondment.
Find out more
RNID offers a range of accessibility solutions to help businesses comply with equality legislation. Our Louder than Words services include communication support, deaf awareness and BSL training, workplace assessments and hearing loop installations. For more information about Louder than Words accessibility solutions, call 0333 240 5658 or fill out an enquiry form.