Human Resources - Neurodiversity in the Workplace (L1625)
1. Summary of changes
1.1. The owner for this protocol has been amended to be the Superintendent, Diversity and Inclusion Academy in Kent. The Diversity Academy will also be responsible for the 2 yearly review.
2. What this protocol is about
2.1 The aim of this protocol is to provide information and guidance to help our workforce better understand neurodiversity and how through workplace adjustments and simple steps we can best support individuals and create an inclusive workforce. This protocol is drawn from and guided by the ACAS ‘Neurodiversity at Work Guidance’.
Compliance with this SOP and any governing policy is mandatory. This protocol is not nor is it intended to be contractual.
3. Detail the protocol
3.1.1 Neurodiversity refers to the different ways the brain can work and interpret information. It highlights that people naturally think about things differently. We have different interests and motivations and are naturally better at some things and do less well at others.
3.1.2 Most people are neurotypical, meaning that the brain functions and processes information in the way society expects.
3.1.3 However, it is estimated that around 1 in 7 people* (more than 15% of people in the UK) are neurodivergent, meaning that the brain functions, learns and processes information differently. Neurodivergence includes Attention Deficit Disorders, Autism, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia (* source ACAS).
3.1.4 It should be noted, although everyone thinks differently, diagnosis for employees with neurodiverse attributes are often sought due to the disproportionate effect the characteristics have on the individuals lives, it should therefore not be underestimated.
3.2 Protocol Statement
3.2.1 Most forms of neurodivergence are experienced along a 'spectrum'. Each form of neurodivergence (such as, but not limited to, dyslexia and autism) has a range of associated characteristics and these can vary from individual to individual. For example, the effects of dyspraxia on one person can be different to another person who also has dyspraxia. The effects on the individual can also change over time.
3.2.2 Additionally, it is very common that an individual will often have the characteristics of more than one type of neurodivergence and may have other co-existing conditions.
3.2.3 It is therefore important that people are not stereotyped according to the better-known characteristics. For example, not all autistic people will be good at maths.
3.2.4 Despite this, it is still helpful to have an awareness of some of the indicative traits that each type of neurodivergence can have:
3.3.1 It is estimated that about 4% of the UK population have ADHD. It affects the person's ability to control attention, impulses and concentration, and can cause inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Some people have problems with attention but not the hyperactivity or impulsiveness. This is often referred to as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).
3.3.2 People with ADHD can often be good at completing urgent, or physically demanding tasks, pushing on through setbacks and showing a passion for their work.
3.4 Autism (which includes Asperger's Syndrome)
3.4.1 It is estimated that about 1-2% of the UK population have autism. It impacts how a person perceives the world and interacts with others, making it difficult for them to pick up social cues and interpret them. Social interactions can be difficult as they can have difficulty 'reading' other people and expressing their own emotions. They can find change difficult and uncomfortable.
3.4.2 People on the autistic spectrum are often very thorough in their work, punctual and rule observant. Many autistic people develop special interests and can hold high levels of expertise in their given topic.
3.5 Dyspraxia (also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder)
3.5.1 It is estimated that up to 5% of the UK population have dispraxia. It relates to issues with physical co-ordination, and for most, organisation of thought. People with dyspraxia may appear clumsy or have speech impediments and might have difficulties with tasks requiring sequencing, structure, organisation and timekeeping.
3.5.2 People with dyspraxia often have good literacy skills and can be very good at creative, holistic, and strategic thinking.
3.6 The force recognises that there are other forms of neurodivergence which include Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, and Tourette's syndrome. Like other forms of neurodivergence, these bring strengths as well as challenges.
3.7 Neurodivergence is fairly common, so most workplaces are already neurodiverse. Yet, there is still a lack of understanding around most forms of neurodivergence, and misperceptions persist. It therefore makes sense for organisations to take steps that make their neurodivergent staff feel valued, part of the team and supported to contribute fully towards achieving the goals of the organisation.
3.8 Creating a more inclusive workplace can:
Highlight the employer's commitment to diversity and inclusion;
Reduce the stigma around neurodivergence;
Make staff feel safe and empowered to disclose a neurodivergence;
Make it more likely that neurodivergent staff will be treated fairly by their managers and colleagues;
Open the organisation up to a pool of talent that may otherwise have been overlooked;
Help retain skilled staff and reduce recruitment costs.
3.9 Everyone is different. While creating a workplace that supports neurodiversity is particularly important for neurodivergent employees, the actions and strategies put in place can benefit all staff and help an employer get the best out of their whole workforce.
3.10 Being neurodivergent may amount to a disability under the Equality Act 2010. This means the organisation has a legal obligation to provide reasonable adjustments in the workplace and the individual's role that will remove or minimise any disadvantage to them.
3.11 Having a workplace that is set up to proactively think about what can be done to support the needs of each employee can make it much easier to identify and implement adjustments for neurodivergent staff.
3.12 Under the Equality Act 2010 “a person is disabled if they have 'a physical or mental impairment' which has 'a substantial and long-term adverse effect' on their 'ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”. A diagnosis will be able to guide the member of staff and their manager to what reasonable adjustments will be beneficial to the individual. In the interest of the staff member reasonable adjustments should be made prior to a diagnosis in consultation with the staff member concerned to meet their needs.
3.13 While some time and resource are needed to identify ways to minimise any potential difficulties, there are clear benefits and competitive advantages to having employees who think differently. Positive attributes commonly associated with neurodivergent employees include:
Creativity and innovation;
Bringing a 'different perspective';
Development of highly specialised skills;
Consistency in tasks once mastered.
3.14 Around 15% of the UK population is estimated to be neurodivergent. Supporting neurodiversity within the workplace can make it easier to identify and provide the support that a neurodivergent person needs.
3.15 The health and well-being of staff should be important to employers. Healthy and motivated employees are more likely to perform well, have good attendance levels and be engaged in their work. Many issues are caused by not understanding neurodivergence or how the working environment can affect neurodivergent employees. Making the workplace more accommodating and supportive can reduce much of the stress they often experience and contribute to better mental health.
3.16 Everyone is unique and so changing the workplace to better meet different needs and preferences can improve the health and well-being of all staff.
3.17 It is important that as a force we make staff feel safe to disclose and seek support. Many performance issues are caused by neurodivergent employees not feeling safe to disclose their diagnosis, trying to hide it and not asking for the adjustments or support they need. If staff know that the organisation is dedicated to supporting neurodiversity, then they are more likely to disclose their neurodivergence at an early stage. If an employer can make staff feel more able to disclose, it makes it easier for them to:
Treat each employee fairly;
Identify and implement appropriate workplace adjustments;
Tailor management and training support to better meet the needs of the employee;
Help staff flourish and fullfil their career aspirations.
Spot issues early and resolve them before they become serious.
3.17.1 It can be difficult for neurodivergent staff to tell their manager about it. Even if an organisation does claim to support neurodiversity, it may still take some time before they feel confident enough to disclose it and not worry about being treated differently or unfairly.
3.18 When a manager becomes aware that a team member is neurodivergent, they may be unsure about what to do and how best to support them. For all involved the Diversity and Inclusion Academy, Health Services, Superintendents Association, Police Federation, Unison and the disability support groups ‘Enable’ (Kent) and ‘Disability Network’ (Essex) are available to provide help and guidance.
3.19 Managers should focus on identifying all available options to provide their team member with the support and guidance they need to perform at their best and ensure they are treated fairly if any issues arise.
3.20 Neurodivergent employees should feel supported and valued by Kent and Essex Police. Knowing what their rights and responsibilities are in the workplace can help to ensure that they are treated fairly by Kent and Essex Police.
This list is not exhaustive and will be added to (extranet page to be created for further links)
4. Equality impact assessment
4.1 This protocol has been assessed with regard to its relevance to equality. As a result of this assessment the protocol has been graded as having a medium potential impact.
5. Risk assessment
5.1 This protocol has been assessed as medium risk.
5.2 Officers and members of police staff engaged within the process must remain aware that they must follow the protocol correctly otherwise the risk to the organisation of a possible employment tribunal could be raised. A failure to fully adopt the principles set out in this protocol could have a detrimental effect upon the individual and the reputation of the organisation.
6.1. The following have been consulted during the formulation of this document:
Essex consultation list as below
Essex Diversity and Inclusion Manager
Diversity and Inclusion Co-ordinator
Health & Safety
Strategic Change Team
Strategic Force Crime & Incident Registrar
Support Networks/Diversity Groups
Catholic Police Guild
Christian Police Association
Minority & Ethnic Support Association (MESA)
Women’s Leadership & Development Forum
Kent Police consultation list:
Health and Safety
7. Monitoring and review
7.1 The monitoring of this HR protocol will be by the Diversity Academy.
7.2 The protocol will be reviewed every two years.
8. Governing force policy
Related force policies and related procedures (Essex) / linked standard operating procedures (Kent)
8.1 This HR protocol supports the overarching HR policy L1.
9. Data Security
9.1. Essex Police and Kent Police have measures in place to protect the security of your data in accordance with our Information Management Policy.
10. Retention & Disposal of Records
10.1. Essex Police and Kent Police will hold data in accordance with our Records Review, Retention & Disposal Policy.
10.2. We will only hold data for as long as necessary for the purposes for which we collected.
10.3. If you require any further information or to request any documentation referenced within the policy please contact [email protected] For general enquiries you can find contact details for Kent Police on the website https://www.kent.police.uk/contact/af/contact-us/.