SUPPORTING DISABLED WORKERS IS WIN-WIN
A new report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found that disabled people continue to be put at a disadvantage in the workplace. They are not realising their full potential as they are not getting the support they need at work. The report, “A Perfect Partnership,” says that closing the employment gap between disabled workers and non disabled workers can increase the performance of staff across the board.
It found that disabled people do not want to be singled out for special treatment. They are looking for company-wide solutions that support all workers – not just those with a disability – to do their jobs effectively.
However, the review shows that employers are sometimes confused by what exactly disability means. They are unsure of who is disabled and what support disabled workers might need. The Commission recommends that the employer and disabled worker collaborating together best resolves these issues.
One of the barriers disabled people say they face is their own reluctance to reveal their disability. People with mental health conditions told the Commission that work was their best rehabilitation route. Yet they did not feel comfortable in discussing any changes in their working day that might benefit them and their employer.
There are wider benefits as the UK economy also gains from a reduced reliance on State benefits when disabled people are in work. More than one in five adults is disabled, yet only half are likely to be in work, compared to four fifths of non disabled adults. One disabled person in six loses their job in the first year after acquiring a disability, more than doubling two years later.
Other recommendations include:
- Flexible and innovative ways of working including changes to traditional working hours and locations.
- Professional bodies should find ways of updating professional qualifications for disabled people and people with long term health conditions.
- Training and guidance for managers who need the skills and confidence to manage disability in the workplace.
- Offering support and adjustments at the recruitment stage without seeking information on disability.
Commissioner Baroness Margaret Prosser said:
”This report makes recommendations that are simply good, basic management that benefit the entire workforce not just disabled staff. We need to look at how we can help disabled workers realise their full potential in the workplace through career development, training, softer skills and not just through making practical adjustments. Employers who take the initiative to manage disability in the workplace will set themselves apart from their competitors – crucial in an economic downturn.