Talking to your employer about hearing loss
If you have hearing loss, it’s important to tell your employer so they can help you get the support and equipment you need at work.
Hearing loss at work
If your hearing loss develops slowly over time, you may not realise it has an impact on your work straight away.
You might find that you:
- struggle to follow what people say during meetings
- often ask colleagues to repeat what they say
- often misunderstand what is being said
- find it hard to understand speech over the phone
- avoid socialising with colleagues
- often get confused about which direction sound is coming from.
Speaking to your employer
It’s best to speak directly to your manager about your hearing loss, at a time and in a way you’re comfortable with. Explain how your hearing loss affects what you can hear, and the effect it’s having at work.
It might be helpful to:
- find a time and place where you are comfortable to talk
- give examples of how it is challenging at work
- share how you prefer to communicate at work
- let others know what they can do to make it easier for you to communicate.
Your manager should explain your employer’s policy for supporting people with a disability or health condition. They should tell you what the next steps are for making sure you get the support you need.
If you find that your manager isn’t supportive, or responds badly to your hearing loss, you can follow our steps for resolving the issue.
What to do if you don’t get support from your employer
If your employer doesn’t support you in the workplace, or give you access to the same opportunities as others because of your hearing loss, this could be discrimination (unfair treatment) under the Equality Act 2010 (or the Disability Discrimination Act in Northern Ireland).
There are steps you can take to try to resolve the issue:
- Request a mediation meeting. This is where a neutral third party helps both sides to resolve the issue. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has information about mediation on its website.
- Make a formal complaint using your internal complaints system.
If you follow these steps and still aren’t happy with the outcome, you could consider taking your case to an employment tribunal. This is likely to be a long, expensive, and stressful process. We recommend you get advice from an organisation specialising in disability or employment law before going down this route.
Organisations that can help
There are organisations that can provide information and support if you have any trouble with your employer as a result of your hearing loss.
Advice now provide information on your rights and the law, including how to recognise discrimination and take steps to end it.
Citizens Advice can help you resolve problems at work with free information and advice.
ACAS provides information, advice, training and other services for employers and employees to help prevent or resolve workplace problems.
An independent agency that provides advice on good employment practices and services to help resolve employment disputes in Northern Ireland.
If you are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus and need free confidential and impartial information and support, contact RNID.
We’re open 8:30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.