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I'm a newly hired engineer who's still on a probation period.

I'm on the autism spectrum (my employer doesn't know) and, in my case, the autism also comes with tiredness issues (my employer doesn't know that either).

I'm currently in the process of being recognized as "handicapped worker" (which I won't have before several months) which will allow me to ask to work remotely and/or to only work part-time.

I'm considering telling my employer about all this (autism + tiredness + working remotely) before having the "handicapped worker" recognition.

Now, I'm wondering:

What would be the drawback of telling them about that after the end of my probation period?

I don't want to be seen as untrustworthy (because I told them after the end of my probation) but I also don't want them to end my probation period because they are afraid of my tiredness issues (if I told them before the end of my probation).

Notes and clarifications

  • I don't have much problem interacting with others and, in any case, there is nothing obvious about me being on the spectrum (from an exterior and ignorant point of view)
  • Related, possible duplicate: Disclosing information on your disabilities: How and when? – David K Feb 12 at 17:19
  • In my experience, the problems with being on the spectrum are that you have problems interacting with others, and that's pretty obvious. They hired you despite ASD, and are presumably OK with it. The fatigue is of course another matter. – David Thornley Feb 12 at 18:30
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    I would not say anything until you are legally protected. Most people are not bad people, they won't hold your limitations and/or handicaps against you, but others could hold those limitations against you. If you are uncomfortable now due to your conditions, I would say something with regards to that, but not about your plans to work remotely. Companies typically only do what they are legally required. – Donald Feb 12 at 18:36
  • @DavidThornley I don't have much problem interacting with others and, in any case, there is nothing obvious about me being on the spectrum (from an exterior point of view). – Ælis Feb 12 at 18:38
  • Aside from the work-related issues, are you comfortable with waiting until after the probationary period? – DaveG Feb 12 at 19:29
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Let’s take the medical factor out for a second. During probation you will be performing at some level. If that level is satisfactory, they will keep you on. If not, they may let you go.

Now, considering a medical condition, If the workload to attain “satisfactory” is sustainable, meaning you can keep doing that level after probation then there’s little reason to ever bring it up. You’re not being deceptive, It’s just not relevant.

However, if that level isn’t sustainable for you, then yes, you need to have a discussion. I have had such discussions with my employees and my first question always is: “what accommodations would help you?”

So I suggest going into the discussion toward the end of probation with ideas about what you need (work from home days, break times, whatever). “I really like this job, but I have (some condition) and it’s tough for me. I believe I can meet the requirements of the role if I can (do some accommodation).”

The company may or may not be able to meet your request, but if they don’t even try then you should ask yourself if that’s really an environment you want to work in. And depending on your jurisdiction, there may be legal obligations to provide reasonable accommodations, but they won’t know to do so unless you ask.

Is there a risk that they blacklist you, and invent some other “reason” to get rid of you so they don’t have to deal with you? Unfortunately, yes, that’s always a risk. You’ll have to assess for yourself if you think this place/manager might do that, what your legal options are, and what the impact to your health might be if you stay without the necessary accommodations.

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    By the way, I suggested “toward the end of probation” because you want a good feel for what the job really requires. If you encounter one killer day, was it a rare fluke that may never happen again? Or is it 3x per week? So maybe “after the midpoint” or “after work patterns become apparent” might be better wording. – Thunk Feb 14 at 15:08
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France doesn't have the best track record with dealing with Autism (as I'm sure you know better than I) although I think they are getting better and getting the disabled worker status (I presume from CDAPH?) gives you significantly improved protection.

Obviously this means you need to address the issue of any impacts that you are currently experiencing since the symptoms don't wait and you indicate that you are considering telling them at least something before the confirmation of the disabled worker status, if you do choose to do so there is nothing wrong with saying something like:

I'm currently experiencing some health issues that lead to me being more tired than I'd like. I'm currently investigating this with my doctors and I'll try not to let it affect my work too much.

This establishes:

  1. that it is a medical issue (i.e. you aren't just not getting enough sleep)
  2. that you are taking steps to look into this yourself
  3. that you are conscious that it (may) affect your work and that you are trying to mitigate this effect.

Regards your concerns about whether you would be seen as "untrustworthy" - I don't this is something to be too concerned about, at the moment you aren't telling them because you don't have the status yet. Additionally specifics of medical concerns are a very private thing for many people (and this rings true in my experience with French companies as well), and I wouldn't consider an employee any less trustworthy because they decided against mentioning details (regardless of probation vs not probation).

Once your disabled worker status is in - then you can discuss any (further) necessary accommodations in that context.

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I would explain that now, including the comment on willing to do it before ending the probation period. Mainly by two reasons:

  • Professional-wise, as you already observed, you don't want to look unstrustworthy.
  • Job-wise, if your condition is a problem for your workplace, then it is the time to know. All in all, you don't want to work in a place that cannot cope with you having ASD.

EDIT: Also, if the tiredness issue is related to sensorial hypersensitivity you might want to give them enough time to find a suitable spot for you, so you can feel more comfortable when in the workplace.

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Unless your job requires such disclosures due to safety regulations, it's up to you to tell them when and if you choose.

What would be the drawback of telling them about that after the end of my probation period?

Now, as for the workplace interpersonal aspects of this...

People, especially managers, don't like surprises, even if the circumstances are perfectly reasonable. If medical issues are not impacting your performance during the probation period, you're setting yourself up for a significant mismatch in expectations vs. capability once your probation is over.

Meaning, your boss will be expecting someone who can contribute at level 8, to later find out you will contribute only at level 6. They suddenly find out they have a capacity gap that they now need to worry about.

The risk is that you will be viewed in the future as someone who brings up issues only when it suits your convenience.

One way around this is to request remote work or flex time, both very common, with your boss outside of any medical entitlement. If they agree, with conditions, there's really no problem.

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