Closing the Fair Work gap: making work fair for autistic people in Scotland (summary report)

James Richards, Katherine Sang, Jos Collins, Jesus Canduela, Kat Allen

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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Key research issue: There is a chronic lack of fair work available to autistic people. They face high levels of unemployment and under-employment compared to the rest of the workforce. They also face discrimination and marginalisation due to organisational cultures and workplace architecture designed for the neurotypical workforce.

Scope: The research aims to identify what fair work should look like for Scotland’s autistic workforce. It is primarily aimed at employers, but also key stakeholders to the Fair Work Framework: the Scottish Government, trade unions and civil society organisations.

Research questions: What does work look like for autistic working people? How do autism and gender intersect with dimensions of fair work? What are the main barriers and facilitators to fair work for the autistic workforce? How can the Fair Work Framework be advanced to be more inclusive of the autistic workforce?

Methodology: The research involves surveys and interviews with autistic employees and their employers/managers. The theoretical framework is based on lived experience, the Fair Work Framework, social model of disability, and intersectionality.

Key findings: There is no single experience of being autistic at work, and autistic women and men can experience work differently. Respondents’ greatest satisfaction at work is with fulfilment and autonomously using their skills, while their greatest dissatisfaction is with having an effective voice and receiving reasonable adjustments. There are several clear key areas where improvement could be achieved through policy, adjustment of workplace structures, training, and clearer understanding of autistic workers’ needs.

Action points: Adapt the Fair Work Framework to encompass inclusion; recognise intersecting identities; implement autism-inclusive HR policies and practices; uphold the social model of disability and the value of lived experience in shaping change; reduce the burden on individual employees to access adjustments; and take a collaborative, multi-stakeholder approach to addressing employee and employer-focused barriers to fair work.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages41
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2023


  • Fair Work Framework
  • Autism
  • Intersectionality
  • Social model of disability
  • Scotland

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