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Introducing the TUC handbook, Autism in the Workplace

About the author

Janine Booth, is a member of the TUC Disabled Workers Committee and the committee of Autistic-UK. She is a former member of the national Council of Executives of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT). Janine runs Autism in the Workplace training events with the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA). You can contact Janine by emailing j.booth@rmt.org.uk

How workplaces can create difficulties for autistic workers

From the TUC handbook, Autism in the Workplace

Workplaces and employers make work difficult for autistic workers for the following reasons:

Discrimination: Treating the autistic worker differently from, less favourably than, others.

Bullying by management, including ridicule and physical/ verbal abuse.

Lack of communication and support.

How workplaces can create difficulties for workers with autistic dependants

From the TUC handbook, Autism in the Workplace

Refusal of time off: An employer may refuse a request for time off, for example a career break or a period of leave to adjust and make arrangements when a
dependant is diagnosed with autism.

Childcare: Few employers provide workplace childcare; of those that do, few provide care suitable for autistic children.

Making workplaces autism-friendly

From the TUC handbook, Autism in the Workplace

Many employers assume that they do not need to make any changes until a worker identifies him/herself as autistic and requests adjustments (if they even think about the issue at all!). However, there are plenty of changes that an employer can implement to make the workplace more autism-friendly before an individual requests it. The advantages of doing this are:

Nothing about autistic people without autistic people

From the TUC handbook, Autism in the Workplace

The trade union movement supports the demand of the disabled people’s movement: ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’.

Many trade unions have structures for disabled members; if so, it may be useful to invite and welcome autistic members’ involvement in these.

There are organisations of autistic people, and trade unionists may benefit from their expertise.

Autism: What your union can do

From the TUC Handbook, Autism in the Workplace:

Be aware that your membership (nationally, in your region, branch, workplace, etc.) is neurologically diverse, even if no-one has identified themselves to you as being on the autistic spectrum or having another neurological condition. Your union’s strength comes from uniting its members and mobilising the talents of all its members.

Defend your members

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