NHS Scotland learning disability employment: tools and guidance

Guidance and tools to support NHS Scotland to increase the number of the people employed with learning disabilities.

6. Onboarding and Development of Employees

Once in employment, there are contractual obligations for the employer and adjustments that can be made to assist employees with learning disabilities. There are also steps that employers can make to improve the onboarding experience for employees, resulting in higher retention rates.

6.1 Pre-employment checks

All the same pre-employment checks will apply for people with learning disabilities, such as identity checks (see the Safer Pre and Post Employment Checks in NHSScotland PIN Policy for a comprehensive overview) and rights to work in the UK (see the Home Office ‘Full guide for employer on preventing illegal working in the UK’).

6.2 References

References are also an important part, and may be more challenging for people with learning disabilities who may have limited employment experiences to draw on. References should be sought to try and build up a picture about a person’s suitability for certain role. Where they are not available, they can be sourced from non-employment sources, such as volunteering activities, and/or training, as reflected in the relevant PIN Policy. Where the person cannot provide a suitable referee from any of these sources; character or personal references may be sought as described by the employment history and reference check standard.

6.3 Employment Contract

Employees must be issued with an employment contract within 8 weeks of their start date. An employee with a learning disability may require some assistance to understand this contract. Although the employment contract itself cannot be changed to easy read, a summary sheet in easy read can be provided with the full contract. This summary sheet will explain some of the most important and relevant information, including pay, hours worked, annual leave, sick days, and notice period. Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 states that you should always consider offering this to your employee. If you are unsure how to present this, you can liaise with Central Legal Office.

6.4 Induction Process

Like all other employees, people with learning disabilities will need an induction where necessary to the organisation and their new role. You should make reasonable adjustments to deliver training and refer to local policies to do so. Managers should keep in mind that it may take longer for people with learning disabilities to become comfortable in their new role and learn the skills required.

For example, in one organisation an employee with a learning disability attended two half day accessible training sessions, rather than one full day. If there is no co-worker, employment support organisations may be able to provide individual assistance for the training and induction process.

6.5 Employee Development

Once someone with a learning disability has successfully been hired, they should be supported through the normal Personal Development Planning and Review process. Plans should include support required to complete mandatory training and the accessing of online tools and resources on the intranet. This may be a good structure for thinking about any adjustments that may be needed to support the individual.


Email: Emma Weedon

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