Creating a fairer Britain
May 17th 2012
A new report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found that, while supporting disabled workers can greatly benefit employers and their organisations, disabled people continue to be put at a disadvantage in the workplace.
Although more than one in five adults are disabled, only half are likely to be in work, compared to four fifths of non disabled adults. Those who are able to secure employment are often not able to realise their full potential as they don’t receive the support they need from employers.
Barriers to appropriate support also means that one disabled person in six loses their job in the first year after acquiring an impairment, more than doubling two years later.
The report, 'A Perfect Partnership', says that closing these employment gaps between disabled workers and non-disabled workers can increase the performance of all staff across the board and benefit employers and employees alike.
There are also wider benefits for the economy when disabled people are in work, with a reduced reliance on State benefits, and the talent pool is broadened simply by supporting disabled people to work.
The report reveals that, while many employers support the career development of disabled people, they also face challenges. Some are confused by what disability actually means or are unsure of who is disabled and what support disabled workers might need.
One of the barriers disabled people say they face is their own reluctance to reveal their disability. In particular, people with mental health conditions told the Commission that work was their best rehabilitation route, yet they did not feel comfortable discussing changes in their working conditions that might benefit them and their employer.
The report also found that disabled people do not want to be singled out for special treatment, but are looking for company-wide solutions that support all workers - not just those with a disability - to do their jobs effectively.
Recommendations from the report include:
Kaliani Lyle, EHRC Scotland Commissioner said:
'This report puts forward recommendations that basically make good management sense. We know that our recommendations need to work for both individuals and employers, but when good practices are in place, they benefit the whole work force, 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, flexible working conditions and softer skills - not just through making practical adjustments. Employers who take the initiative to manage disability in the workplace will set themselves apart from their competitors, helping to ensure a robust and fair workplace in Scotland.
For more information contact the Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland Media Office on 0141 228 5938.
The Perfect Partnership report, employer case studies and video interviews will be live on the Commission’s website from Thursday 17 May: www.equalityhumanrights.com/perfectpartnership
The report is one of the Equality and Human Rights Commission's Working Better series of publications. The research draws on a wide range of evidence including focus groups with disabled people and employers, inquiries to the Commission's Helpline and other available research. Full details are available on the Commission's research report Opening Up work: the views of disabled people and people with long term health conditions, Lorna Adams and Katie Oldfield, IFF research. EHRC research report 77.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission. It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights. The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act. It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.