"Creating a culture of diversity and inclusion is essential to supporting employees to be themselves, managing any challenges they face and bringing their attributes and skills to the fore"
Neurodiversity is a term that refers to the natural differences between people, in terms of experiencing and interacting with the world around them. Examples of neurodiverse conditions are autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, dyspraxia and Tourette syndrome.
Neurodiversity – along with mental health conditions – is included in the definition of disability; a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. This means that neurodiverse individuals are legally protected from discrimination and their employer is also responsible for providing reasonable adjustments if necessary.
The neurodiversity pathway, which forms part of the group income protection claims proposition, is designed for employees who are absent from work and whose pre-existing neurodiverse condition is a contributory factor or has been exacerbated by the reason for absence. Training, information and guidance are also available for HR and Line Managers to help equip them to provide support, whether employees are in work or absent.
Recently published research found that 70% of neurodiverse employees are currently suffering with mental health issues; with higher incidences of stress, anxiety, depression and burnout than neurotypical employees. The research also found that only two in five organisations have made inclusion and diversity part of their employee benefits strategy.
Support with employee mental health-related absence
Legal & General’s neurodiversity support for long-term absent employees covered by their group income protection through their employer, includes:
· clinical assessment by vocational clinical specialists to assess whether early intervention and referral to mental health specialist partner Onebright is appropriate
· return to work support and planning by liaising with employee and employer at an early stage to help explore reasonable adjustments
· an additional yearly support package for those assessed as needing enhanced support upon returning to work
· referral to neurology rehabilitation expert partner Krysalis, where long-term rehabilitative support is clinically indicated
· a range of well-being support and information from Legal & General’s employee assistance programme
· links to relevant charities and community support networks across the UK.
Support for the business includes training for line managers and HR to give them the tools to help them intervene early in an employee’s absence, helping them understand neurodiverse conditions; contacts for help and signposting; awareness materials; bespoke return to work plans; employer visits and discussions around reasonable adjustments (changes to work or the workplace to help an individual do their job).
Support with organisational diversity and inclusion goals
Support is also provided to HR and Line Managers whether employees are absent or not, in terms of information and signposting on neurodiverse conditions. This is available via Legal & General’s Be Well helpline; a direct line to vocational clinical specialists, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational health advisers and occupational therapists. The helpline may also be used for guidance and recommendations on health risk assessments and workplace adjustments.
Vanessa Sallows, (pictured) Claims & Governance Director, Legal & General Group Protection, comments: “Creating a culture of diversity and inclusion is essential to supporting employees to be themselves, managing any challenges they face and bringing their attributes and skills to the fore.
“We’re proud to bring to market our new neurodiversity pathway, helping employers respond to the individual needs of their neurodiverse employees. It further evolves our outcomes-focused Be Well. Get Better. Be Supported framework, which looks at the whole person – as opposed to viewing wellbeing in silos – centring on how the individual’s wellbeing impacts their ability to function within the workplace.
“The word ‘individual’ is key here. Successful well-being support programmes rest on matching services to needs, and employee input is an important part of the design as it helps to drive relevance and therefore engagement. Our latest Wellbeing at Work Barometer found a 20-percentage point disparity between employer and employee views on how well their organisation’s benefits and services supported diversity and inclusion goals, which may indicate that employee input needs to be strengthened. A net rating of ‘good’ was given by 77% of employers in comparison to only 57% of employees.”