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Supporting workers with disabilities

Only 54% of people with disabilities are in employment, compared with 82% of people without disabilities. This blog post will focus on how to support those with disabilities and long term conditions to start and stay in work.

Adopting inclusive recruitment practices

A person is considered disabled if they have a long-term physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term negative effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.

To eliminate disadvantages that a disabled applicant may encounter, employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to their recruitment process. For example, if someone tells you they have a problem with certain lighting, ensuring the room for the interview is suitable would be a reasonable adjustment.

Since you won’t know that an applicant is disabled unless they tell you, and many won’t disclose this so early on, focusing on making your recruitment more inclusive for everyone is the best approach.

Examples of how to achieve this include: being clear on required skills in the job description – are they essential for the role?

Accepting applications in various formats, considering accessibility for interviews, and changing your expectations on matters such as employment gaps in CVs or eye contact during interviews.

A disabled applicant must not be treated less favourably than an applicant without a disability. Doing so can lead to disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

Creating an inclusive workplace culture

Some disabilities will require reasonable adjustments to be considered to support a disabled person in their role. For a small business, this might seem challenging at first, but these don’t always mean big structural changes. For example, it could be that this is achieved through adjusted hardware, for which financial support might be available, or flexible working.

Beyond this, an inclusive company culture can help to retain disabled employees. For example, considering any adjustments that might be needed for everyone to participate in and enjoy work socials.

It may also be appropriate to integrate disability training within workplaces – so that managers and staff are more confident in how to support their colleagues with disabilities at work.

Support for small businesses

Access to Work is an employment support grant scheme which supports the hiring of disabled people. This can include paying for practical support as well as advice on hiring and retaining people with disabilities.

To be eligible for support, a person must:

· have a disability or long term health condition that means they need an aid, adaptation or financial or human support to do their job

· have a mental health condition and need support in work

· be 16 or over

· be in, or about to start, paid employment (including self-employment)

· normally resident in, and working in, England, Scotland or Wales – there is a different system in Northern Ireland

· not be claiming Incapacity Benefit or Employment Support Allowance once they are in work

For more information on the Access to Work grant, head to:

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