Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions suggest that of those people registered with a disability in the UK, around half of those are in regular employment.
Despite a general turndown in the job market, considerable work is being done to introduce schemes and initiatives to make it easier for those with disabilities to gain access to work and opportunities.
As a jobseeker with a disability, there are a number of regulations that exist to ensure that you are treated equally and fairly by a prospective employer as well as a number of initiatives that employers support on a voluntary basis to encourage applicants with disabilities.
The Equality Act 2010
Legislation exists to protect the rights of disabled people in the form of the Equality Act 2010. This act means that it is against the law for an employer or prospective employer to discriminate against you because of your disability.
This means that an employer must treat you fairly and make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to prevent you from being put at a disadvantage compared to other non-disabled workers or candidates.
This could include:
- Providing application forms in large print for those with vision impairments
- Providing an accessible working area and equipment
- Ensuring fair pay, conditions and treatment on issues such as redundancy, dismissal and grievances
- Adjusting working hours where necessary
The Equality Act also ensures that a prospective employer is limited in the enquiries that they can make about your health or disability, ensuring that they can only ask about your disability to determine whether it could affect your ability to carry out an essential task or whether the employer would need to make any reasonable adjustments or considerations for you.
Disability Employment Schemes
There are currently a number of schemes designed to encourage employers to think positively about the skills and benefits that disabled people can bring to their businesses. The Disability Employment Adviser at your local Job Centre can advise you on employers that are part of such schemes. There are currently a number of schemes designed to encourage employers to think positively about the skills and benefits that disabled people can bring to their businesses.
The most common scheme is the ‘two ticks’ scheme and many employers will display the ‘positive about disabled people’ symbol on application forms, job advertisements and the careers sections of their web site.
This scheme is a five step plan and ensures that employers:
- Guarantee an interview for applicants who meet the basic job requirements
- Consult disabled employees to ensure they feel they are being used to their full potential
- Keep employees on if they become disabled
- Improve company knowledge surrounding disability
- Check the progress and planning ahead through annual reviews to ensure the company is maintaining its disability commitments.
- Access to Work for Disabled People
- Employment Services for Disabled People
- Residential Training and Colleges for Disabled People
- The Work Programme – Prepare for, Find and Stay in Work
- Work Choice – Employment Support for Disabled People
Mindful Employer Charter
For candidates and job seekers who have a mental disability, the Mindful Employer Charter was introduced to ensure that those employees and candidates receive the right levels of support. The charter, which was voluntarily signed by more than 500 employers in the UK, preceded the Mental Health Discrimination Bill and is designed to encourage employers and employees to discuss issues relating to mental health.