ADHD in the Workplace

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2018 National Disabled Members' Conference
6 July 2018

Conference notes that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder and in fact, one of the most well-researched neurological disorders. It also can be said to be one of the most misunderstood diagnosis. Having ADHD affects every aspect of the individual’s life.

ADHD comes in three forms – Inattentive, Impulsive, Hyperactive (or a combination of all three) each individual with ADHD has a different set of challenges. Therefore, it is important to consider the unique picture, when designing strategies, and pursuing accommodations and modifications for the workplace.

A high percentage of people with ADHD are also like to have one of the following:

• A co-morbid learning disability such as dyslexia or autism;

• Develop a mental illness, such as bipolar or depression, depression being very common. With this said, those with ADHD are at a higher risk for committing suicide

A high percentage of people with ADHD are likely to experience.

• Relationship difficulties including divorce

• Difficulty at work including regular loss of employment

Conference notes that presently there is inadequate and uneven support across the public sector in meeting the support needs of those in the workforce with ADHD. Many adults with ADHD face not being understood at work , those who are newly diagnosed face the stigma around ADHD and the extra hurdle of having to prove their disability where they may have ‘masked it ‘ unknowingly their whole lives.

Many people with ADHD struggle to obtain the reasonable adjustments that they need to do well in their work role. In many cases they do not pursue reasonable adjustments at all thus struggle when expected to complete the same amount of work, in the same time, to the same standard as their peers who do not have ADHD or other impairments. Those people who do not receive support at work are not only disadvantaged at work, but this feeds into their ability to manage their ADHD outside of work.

There is a myth that people ‘grow out of ADHD’ when In fact this is not the case. Many have simply learned to manage their ADHD or to mask it when it comes to adulthood. In other areas of their lives and when they get older and head out into the workforce lack of specialist support remains an issue. Research has shown how this myth has lead to inadequate support for those with ADHD.

Support for adults with ADHD is on the whole forsakenly poor. Apart from sleeping, the majority of an adult’s life is at work, the difficulties and barriers that those with ADHD face at work is a trade union issue, which we need to take action on. Considering ADHD affects 5% of children and nearly 3% of adults, the affect of inadequate support for those with ADHD across society including health, education, criminal justice, work and benefits, homelessness and social care is vast and little understood or discussed, let alone addressed.

As the biggest trade union in the UK we can do a lot to create greater awareness about ADHD and push for greater support, so that those with ADHD can perform to the best of their abilities in their roles in the workforce.

Those with ADHD and who are working should be congratulated for their achievements in the light of the everyday barriers they face and the minimal support they receive.

Conference notes that ADHD Action is an organisation which was set up only last year and is having huge success in such a short space of time getting support from the ADHD Foundation, Adult ADHD NI, and ADHD Solutions CIC. This organisation is campaigning for an ADHD act which would:

“Place a duty on the Government to produce a broad strategy for ADHD adults and children which is kept under regular review, which includes access for all persons that require assessment and treatment for ADHD and place a duty to produce statutory guidance to ensure implementation of the strategy for the following bodies:

• Education

• Health (including mental, sexual and addiction support)

• Criminal justice (police, prisons, probation)

• Work, pensions and benefits

• Employment law

• Local authorities (e.g. social services, homelessness)

• Media (for responsible reporting)”

Conference therefore calls on the National Disabled Members Committee to:

1.Consider Supporting ADHD Action’s campaign for an Act of Parliament for ADHD to commit the government to implementing a strategy for ADHD across many sectors which would support members, colleagues and the communities we serve.

2.To consider publishing up to date briefings and guidelines for distribution amongst branches which would aim to debunk myths around ADHD, and which includes the particular impacts likely to be experienced by workers and ways of addressing them through organising and representation.