Understanding Dyscalculia: A Comprehensive Guide for Employers

This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide for employers regarding dyscalculia, a mathematical learning difficulty affecting approximately 5% of the UK population. In it, we’ll look at dyscalculia, its impact on employees and the legal obligations employers have under UK law to support neurodivergent employees.

Understanding Dyscalculia

Dyscalculia refers to a specific learning difficulty concerning mathematics. It involves difficulty understanding number concepts, performing calculations, timekeeping, measurement and spatial reasoning. On the other hand, individuals with dyscalculia often exhibit strengths such as creativity, strategic thinking, problem-solving and intuitive thinking.

Legal Perspective

In the UK, the key legislation concerning workplace neurodiversity is the Equality Act 2010. It consolidates and expands previous equality laws, protecting neurodivergent workers, who are likely to be classified as ‘disabled’ under the act. This affords them vital rights to reasonable adjustments, along with protection against discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

Defining Disability under the Equality Act 2010

For a condition to be considered a disability under the Equality Act 2010, it must be a ‘physical or mental impairment’ that ‘has a substantial and long-term adverse effect’ on a person’s ‘ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Therefore, neurodivergent conditions like dyscalculia, which are lifelong cognitive differences, likely meet the legal definition of ‘long-term’.

Dyscalculia in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities

The symptoms of dyscalculia can pose challenges for individuals in their professional lives. These may include difficulties with understanding and working with numbers, performing calculations, and remembering mathematical facts, issues related to negative attitudes, time-keeping and planning schedules.

However, supporting neurodivergent employees can offer unique opportunities for organisations. The distinctive cognitive profiles of neurodivergent individuals can bring novel perspectives, creative problem-solving and unique skills to the workplace.

Managing Dyscalculia: Reasonable Adjustments

The Equality Act 2010 requires employers to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled employees to alleviate any substantial disadvantages they might face. These adjustments can be simple and inexpensive but significantly improve workers’ happiness and performance.

Examples of Reasonable Adjustments

Examples of reasonable adjustments for dyscalculic employees can include:

  • Using a calculator for tasks involving calculations
  • Employing calendars and schedules to plan daily activities
  • Setting alarms to keep track of time
  • Structuring breaks into long meetings
  • Providing a second computer screen
  • Agreeing on a later start and finish time to avoid rush hour
  • Varying dress code
  • Providing noise-cancelling headphones to workers who are hypersensitive to sound
  • Varying role responsibilities or agreeing to a transfer to a similar post, where appropriate
  • Providing coaching or a mentor system

Implementing Reasonable Adjustments

While identifying potential adjustments, employers should always consult with the worker and not implement changes without their consent. If an employer can’t afford an adjustment, the worker might be eligible for support under the Access to Work scheme.

The Public Sector Equality Duty

The Equality Act also places an additional ‘public sector equality duty’ on public sector employers. This duty requires them to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between disabled and non-disabled people.

Legal Considerations: Proving Disability

When an employer disputes that a person has a disability under the Equality Act, the burden of proof falls on the claimant. For invisible disabilities, such as dyscalculia, this is likely to involve providing or commissioning expert evidence.


Understanding dyscalculia and its implications is crucial for employers to ensure a diverse, inclusive, and productive workplace environment. By recognising the unique strengths of neurodivergent employees and making reasonable adjustments, employers can not only comply with the law but also create a workplace that values individual strengths and promotes innovation.

Contact Us