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Talking to your employer about hearing loss

If you have hearing loss, it’s important to speak to your employer so they can support you at work. Read more about telling your employer and what you can do if you don’t get the support you need. 

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 telephone
  • avoid socialising with colleagues
  • often get confused about which direction sound is coming from.

If you’re experiencing difficulties like this, and haven’t yet been diagnosed with hearing loss, you can get a hearing test. Find out more about diagnosing hearing loss.

We have a free online hearing test which takes just 3 minutes. Take our online hearing test

If you have hearing loss, making your employer aware gives them the opportunity to support you.

Telling your employer about your hearing loss

It’s best to speak to your manager about your hearing loss, at a time and in a place you’re comfortable with. Explain how your hearing loss affects what you can hear, and the effect it’s having at work.

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 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:

  1. Talk to your employer informally. Discuss the issue with your manager, or with your HR department. Raise your concerns and ask for information about your employer’s policy on supporting employees with disabilities.
  2. Request a mediation meeting. This is where a neutral third party helps both sides to resolve the issue. If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, you can find out about the mediation process by visiting the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) website. If you live in Northern Ireland, you can find out more by visiting the Labour Relations Agency website.
  3. Make a formal complaint using your internal complaints or grievance 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.

Useful 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

A website run by the charity Law for Life: the Foundation for Public Legal Education. It provides information on rights and the law, including how to recognise discrimination and take steps to end it.

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice helps people resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing free information and advice. You can search for your local bureau online.

Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

The EHRC protects human rights, promotes equality and challenges discrimination. It publishes a wide range of practical guidance and advice on its website.

Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS)

ACAS provides information, advice, training and other services for employers and employees to help prevent or resolve workplace problems.

Labour Relations Agency (in Northern Ireland)

An independent agency that provides advice on good employment practices and services to help resolve employment disputes.

Contact us

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.

Page last updated: 25 October 2023

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