This section focuses on actions that employers can take to manage disability in the workplace with confidence. Taking this advice may help you to attract and retain talented disabled staff whilst getting the best out of people and reducing the costs of replacing valuable employees.
- 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.
- The term 'disabled' covers people with a wide range of disabilities and health conditions from diabetes to depression.
- Employers can expect nearly one in six of their workforce affected by a mental health condition at some point. Mental health conditions can result in the loss of over 80 million working days per year.
- The DWP’s Access to Work programme helped 37,000 people in 2009/10. However many adjustments or changes to work practices will cost little or nothing.
Solutions should not necessarily be different or unusual and not just for disabled people – but should have relevance to the entire workforce.
An inclusive employer:
- Is flexible in relation to working arrangements.
- Allows employees to share information in their own time.
- Understands that some impairments or conditions are invisible.
- Asks all staff what adjustments might be required for example through a staff survey or induction questionnaire.
Maybe we should be mainstreaming our approaches and having a more general approach so that when people have actually been recruited you are asking everybody what kind of adjustments that they need and bring in all of the other aspects around child care and disability and wouldn't necessarily have to focus on their disability then and also to focus more on the good practice of other organisations.
- Recognises that people may develop impairments or health issues over the course of their working life.
- Publicises the good work they are doing and the business benefits.
- Advocates policies that prevent harassment and bullying.
- Understands their legal responsibility in regards to reasonable adjustments.
An inclusive manager:
- Understands the needs of their team.
- Considers making changes to job roles when a staff member’s circumstances or health condition changes - there may be business benefits in redesigning or 'tweaking' a job role rather than having to recruit someone new.
- Informally asks their team members how they are and whether they have what they need - especially when people start work in a new role or return to work after a leave of absence.
Specifically on the case of disability, I think there is a sense in which a great many employers are largely unaware of the concerns that some of their employees may have and that many of the employees are not self identifying to their employees as being disabled.
What changes can you make to the workplace?
- Start and finish times
- The distribution of working hours across days of the week
- Accommodating absence
- Opportunities to work from home
Adapting job roles
- Provide lifts and step free access to all sites
- Two-hinged light doors at all entrances and for internal doors
- Car parking for disabled people where possible
- Regular, ordered layout in open-plan areas
- Permanent desks for disabled people in offices using hotdesking
- Choice over workstation seating for all staff
- Allowing air conditioning to be switched off at workstations and or fitting ionizers
Facilities / equipment
- Health and safety equipment that is accessible
- A break-out space
- Materials provided in a variety of formats
- Advance consultation about the most appropriate communication approaches
- Consider alternative ways that information and reports can be presented