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Your rights at work

If you’re deaf or have hearing loss, your employer has a duty to make adjustments so you’re not put at a disadvantage.

You could also be eligible for an Access to Work grant to help pay for practical support and specialist equipment.

In England, Scotland and Wales

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers have a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for people who have hearing loss, so that they’re not put at a ‘substantial disadvantage’ in work, compared with people who are hearing.

In Northern Ireland

Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, employers have a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for people who have hearing loss, so that aspects of work are not ‘impossible or unreasonably difficult’ for someone with a disability.

Reasonable adjustments

Reasonable adjustments could include:

  • adjusting the layout of a meeting room and using good lighting to help everybody see each other clearly (important for lipreading)
  • modifying a job to take your needs into account
  • moving you to an office with good acoustics where sound is transmitted well
  • Providing communication support for meetings, such as speech-to-text reporters
  • installing equipment, such as amplified telephones or flashing-light fire alarms
  • providing a portable hearing loop for you to use during a training course away from the office
  • giving you time off work for your audiology appointments

If your hearing loss is relatively minor and it doesn’t affect your day-to-day life, it’s unlikely that you’ll be protected by the Equality Act. But if your hearing loss has a substantial effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, you’ll be protected.

If you are covered by the Act, you’ll also be protected against discrimination (including the failure to make reasonable adjustments), harassment and victimisation.

Access to Work scheme

The government’s Access to Work scheme provides a grant to pay for practical support and specialist equipment in the workplace for people who have a disability or health condition.

Access to Work is provided where an individual’s support needs or adaptations are beyond the reasonable adjustments that an employer is legally obliged to provide under the Equality Act.

Read more about Access to Work.