What is the Disability Discrimination Act for Employment?
People with disabilities share the same general employment rights as other jobseekers and employees. But there are some special terms for us under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995:
Legal Protection – Under the discrimination legislation it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against job seekers or employees with disabilities. The law covers all aspects of employment from recruitment through to the ending of the employment and beyond-for example giving employment references.
The Law includes:
- Arrangements for recruiting and selecting new staff
- Terms and conditions of employment, including pay and benefits
- Promotion, transfer, or training opportunities
- Work placement opportunities
- Disciplinary procedures
- Performance management and attendance procedures
- Dismissal or redundancy
- Occupational pensions
- The way that the work is arranged and performed
- The physical features of an employer’s premises
Another important protection is that the law also outlaw’s disability-related harassment (or bullying) against people with disabilities in the workplace. This is unwanted behaviour, whether it be intended or not, that is related to disability, and which causes feelings such as offence, humiliation or hurt.
It can include behaviour such as name calling, making fun of a person’s disability or making fun of people with disabilities generally.
Reasonable adjustments in the workplace:
There is a special form of disability discrimination where an employer is under a duty to make reasonable adjustments for a particular job applicant or employee with a disability and fails to keep to it.
Failing to meet the duty cannot be justified and is always unlawful.
An employer is under a duty to make reasonable adjustments for a job applicant or employee with a disability if the following conditions apply:
- The person with a disability is at a large disadvantage compared to people who do not have a disability
- Any provision, criterion or practice applied by the employer, or any physical feature of premises occupied by the employer
- The employer knows or could reasonably be expected to know, that the person with a disability is disabled and is suffering the disadvantage, or is likely to
Where the employer is under the duty, they must take reasonable steps, in all the circumstances of the case, to prevent the person with disabilities from suffering the disadvantage.
Examples of adjustments:
Examples of adjustments your employer or perspective employer should consider, in consultation with you, include:
- Allocating some of your work to someone else
- Transferring you to another post or another place of work
- Adjusting the buildings where you work
- Being flexible about your hours-allowing you to have different core working hours and to be away from the office for assessment, treatment or rehabilitation
- Providing training or retraining if you cannot do your current job any longer
- Providing modified equipment
- Making instructions and manuals more accessible
- Providing a reader or interpreter
Things to consider at work
Decoding on when an adjustment is reasonable or not depends on the circumstances. What is reasonable in one situation may not be reasonable in another. The aim of the duty of care is to allow people with disabilities to get work, stay in work or return to work. An important consideration is whether a proposed adjustment will help achieve that goal but there are other factors that may need to be considered too.
You can play an active role in discussing these arrangements with your employer. You might also want to encourage your employer to speak to someone with expertise in giving work-related help for people with disabilities, such as an occupational health adviser.
Issues for employers and employees to consider:
- How effective will an adjustment be?
- Will it mean that your disability is slightly less of an advantage or will it significantly cut the disadvantage?
- Is it practical?
- Will it cause much disruption?
- Will it help other people in the workplace?
- Is the cost prohibitive?
You may also want to make sure your employer is aware of the access to Work programme and other employment support schemes. Through these programmes, employers can get advice on suitable adjustments and possibly financial help towards the costs of the adjustments. See:
- Work Schemes and Programmes: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/information-and-services/employment-support-people-disabilities-or-health-conditions/work-schemes-people-disabilities-or-health-conditions
- Access to work-practical help at work: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/access-work-practical-help-work
The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland gives advice if you feel you may have been discriminated against at work or in the provision of goods, facilities or services.
It can also help if you think you have been discriminated against and want to lodge a claim at an Industrial Tribunal (employment cases) or County Court (goods, facilities and services cases). It also gives free advice and guidance to employers and service providers on recommended good practice under disability discrimination law. See: Equality Commission for Northern Ireland
Disability Employment Statistics
ONS 2019 Labour Force Survey shows:
- 2019 showed that roughly half of disabled people were in employment (53.2%) compared with just over four out of five non-disabled people (81.8%) (Labour Force Survey, LFS)
- The employment gap was larger for disabled men than disabled women, with a 31.7 percentage point difference between disabled and non-disabled men, compared with a 25.0 percentage point difference for women; this was driven by the higher employment rate for non-disabled men (LFS, 2019)
- Working disabled men were more likely to be self-employed (20.6%) than non-disabled men (17.5%) no significant difference was seen between disabled and non-disabled women (Annual Population Survey, APS, 2019).
- Working disabled people were more likely to work part time than non-disabled people, with 34.1% of disabled people working part-time in comparison with 23.1% of non-disabled people (APS, 2019).
- The employment rate for disabled people with severe or specific learning difficulties was the lowest rate of any impairment, 17.6% (APS, 2019).
Employment by disability:
- Disabled people are 28.6% points less likely to be in employment than non-disabled people
- In 2019 51.2% of Disabled people were in employment compared to 81.4% of Non-Disabled people.
How Your Business Can Improve with Disability Employment
Findings show that benefits of hiring people with disabilities included improvements in profitability (e.g., profits and cost-effectiveness, turnover and retention, reliability and punctuality; employee loyalty; company image);
competitive advantage (e.g., diverse customers, customer loyalty and satisfaction, innovation, productivity, work ethic, safety); inclusive work culture, and ability awareness. Secondary benefits for people with disabilities included improved quality of life and income, enhanced self-confidence, expanded social networks, and a sense of community.
How Can Kaleidoscope Assist with Disability Employment?
The National Disability Strategy: What this means for disabled people and the world of employment, unemployment, and Entrepreneurship? At Kaleidoscope Group we understand how vital it is that everyone has an advocate for growth and we are here to assist the Prime Minister, the government and every disabled talent to support and empower ambition. Find our round-up of the disability strategy at Disability Talk.
Disabled people ask for assistance with finding employment and developing their business ideas for companies and service development to create more life-enhancing moments. The Kaleidoscope Group vision is to shape a world where we see no difference in ‘different’ and every disabled person is given a fair opportunity to realise their full potential and find purpose.
At Kaleidoscope Group, we offer expert training and knowledge to ensure both employers and employees share a strong working relationship through providing guidance on disability employment. Contact us today through our services, Kaleidoscope Recruitment and Kaleidoscope Advisory.