Range and disability: the equality problem

Employers need to do better to close the UK, but the UK’s persistent ‘disability gap’ or the poor employment rate for people with disabilities

Gender inequalities may hit the headlines, but the UK’s “disability gap” – the poor employment rate and retention of people with disabilities – remains stubbornly high. Paul Avis explores what can be done.

Diversity in the workplace has never been so hotly debated. Now that large UK companies (or companies with 250 or more employees) are required to publish data on the gender pay gap, the gap between men and women – and the imbalance between men and women in leadership positions – will dominate the headlines for the US predictable future.

But another theme of diversity is quietly bubbling beneath the surface, and while it may not make that much headline, it deserves our attention.

The unemployment rate is currently at its lowest level since 1975. But not all workers benefit from a high level of employment – while 80.6% of people without disabilities are employed, it drops sharply to 49.2% of people with disabilities.

Although the employment rate of people with disabilities has improved slightly compared to the previous year and a further 104,000 people with disabilities are employed, much remains to be done. The government recognized this and, towards the end of last year, set a target of 1 million more disabled people working by 2027.

What role can and must employers play in the government’s ten-year change program?

The government paper on Improving Life – The Future of Work, Health and Disability contains a clear mandate for employers, managers and supervisors to improve the hiring and retention of disabled workers, better cope with workers’ illness and create healthy and inclusive workplaces, where all can make progress and offer opportunities for workers who need a more flexible approach.

Employers should understand this as an indication that they not only have an obligation to prevent direct or indirect discrimination against disabled workers (both of which are illegal under the 2010 Equality Act), but also to take active steps to improve working conditions and opportunities for people with To undertake disabilities.

Hiring and retaining disabled employees

One of the most common forms of discrimination is not making the necessary adjustments for disabled workers. It is often believed that it is expensive to make the changes necessary to support an employee with a disability, but in most cases the opposite is true. Working flexibly, making minor changes to dress code, or sitting / standing with a colleague are all effective forms of support that are free to implement. Other changes include providing an elevator or ramp or equipment suitable for the person, such as B. a special keyboard or a louder phone. According to The Disability Rights Commission, the average cost of adjustments is only £ 75.

Employers should be aware that they are legally obliged to make appropriate adjustments to the work environment, provided that the employee has informed them of their disability and they are classified as disabled under the Equal Opportunities Act. While the obligation to adapt rests with the employer and employees do not necessarily have to make suggestions, each individual may experience their disability in different ways. It is therefore important that he has the opportunity to discuss with his employer what type of job changes would be most beneficial.

If a person needs support that is too expensive for an employer to adequately implement, they can be supported by the state access to work program. This may include a grant to cover the cost of practical support in the workplace.

Make the most of technology

Advances in technology mean there is little excuse for employers not to offer a disabled-friendly workplace. The paper “Improving Lives” refers to “accessible hardware and software … right through to developments in apps and wearable technology”, with “small innovative start-ups and large technology companies” already implementing these solutions for their employees. As technology continues to improve, assistive technology should continue to spread across UK businesses.

Basically, the availability of online meeting and conference centers has made home work possible for many types of employees. More sophisticated software – like computer screen readers that read the contents of computer screens to visually impaired users, and speech recognition programs that help people with motor problems – can greatly improve the job opportunities of people with disabilities and the likelihood of them staying in the workplace.

Return to work for the newly disabled

Becoming newly disabled is a very difficult situation and can get worse if an employer quickly writes off an employee rather than helping them get back to work. As a result, the employer no longer has an experienced staff and has to hire a replacement, at an average cost of more than £ 30,000. More importantly, the employee is left without a job, which may lead to difficulties in supporting themselves and their families.

Employers may find that managing their employees’ health problems is too complex and costly. This is where GIP (Group Income Protection) products can make a real difference. The product is designed to provide financial support to an employee when they are unemployed due to a long-term illness or injury. He ensures that employees continue to receive an income and continue to be entitled to valuable private sickness and death benefit systems. In addition to a GIP system, insurers also offer a range of additional support services, including helplines for employers, secondary medical services to support clinical safety, and vocational rehabilitation.

The claims management services provide a medically approved return to work plan, as well as adaptations and adjustments in the workplace to achieve return to work when appropriate.

Particularly beneficial results are obtained when employers use early intervention services. When an employer avails of such a service, 90% of workers return to work successfully and sustainably after seven weeks, so no entitlement payment is required and employers are kept ‘bonuses low.

Given that GIP can be provided for basic coverage for as little as £ 75 per employee per year, it’s a cost-effective and effective starting point to manage and prevent the absence of sickness and to help those who are sick or injured and Need help getting back to work. This makes it an invaluable tool for companies that want to make sure they are truly diverse and support disabled employees.

Paul Avis is the director of marketing at Canada Life Group Insurance

“United Kingdom Unemployment Rate 1971-2018”. Trading Economics, available online at https://tradingeconomics.com/united-kingdom/unemployment-rate

“People with Disabilities in Employment”. House of Commons Library, January 2018. Available online at http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7540

“Strategy seeks one million more disabled people in work by 2027”. Departments of Employment and Pensions, and Health and Social Services, November 2017. Available online at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/strategy-seeks-one-million-more-disabled-people-in-work-by -2027

Improving Life: The Future of Work, Health and Disability. Departments for Employment and Pensions and Health and Social Services, November 2017. Available online at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/663399/improving-lives-the-future-of -work-health-and-disability.PDF

Top Tips For Small Employers: A Guide To Employing People With Disabilities. Disability Rights Commission, available online at http://www.smarttar.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/top_tips_for_small_employers_-_a_guide_to_employing_disabled_people.pdf

Access to work, https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work

The Cost of the Brain Drain: Understanding the Financial Impact of Turnover. Oxford Economics, February 2014. Available online at https://www.oxfordeconomics.com/my-oxford/projects/264283

Canada Life Group Insurance, EIS statistics 2014

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