Disability and Employment

Disability can be a difficult topic to speak about especially when it comes to employment. Employers are often thinking what are the best practices when employing someone with a disability so in this blog we are going to be speaking about the recruitment and employment of people with disabilities.

Disability and Employment

What is a disability?

There are many types of disability. Too many to name, but there are several umbrella terms to disability, which are sensory, physical, mental and learning.

Here are some examples:

Sensory – Vision and Hearing Impairment
Physical – Cerebral Palsy, Diabetes
Mental – Depression, Anxiety
Learning – Dyslexia, Dyscalculia

Just to make it even more complicated there are variants within this as some people like myself have more than one disability from multiple categories. To make it even more complicated than that, long-term health conditions are also considered as a disability.

Not all disabilities are visible; there are also many invisible disabilities for example depression or HIV.

Legislation – The Equality Act 2010

The government created legislation in 2010 that protects people with disabilities from discrimination both in and outside of the workplace.

Not every disability or health condition is protected by The Equality Act 2010 and the following definition should be applied:

‘’You are disabled under the ‘Equality Act 2010’ if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long term’ adverse effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.’’

When working alongside people with disabilities in employment you will hear the term ‘reasonable adjustment’. The Equality Act 2010 states that employers and service providers must make reasonable adjustments to prevent people with disabilities being put at severe disadvantage.

So your now thinking what does a reasonable adjustment look like?

For a national organisation, which employs a person with a physical disability, a reasonable adjustment might be step free access to enter and exit a building. However if an independent shop employed this person, it might be more reasonable for the shop to provide the employee with a wheelchair ramp for them to enter and exit a building.

Now the word reasonable is a very grey term because what is reasonable to one person is not necessarily reasonable to another and there are also considerations to how large the employer is. However there are ways in which to seek this information to inform your decisions if as an employer you wish to ensure you are abiding by the rules, regulations and best practice.

 Fair and accessible

In order for us to recruit people with disabilities we must make the recruitment process fair and accessible. Some employers don’t realise that before a candidate with a disability gets to the job interview stage, there are multiple barriers that they face for example job adverts being inaccessible. In some cases job adverts have excluded people with disabilities by stating such things as you must hold a valid driving license. This isn’t completely true as somebody with a disability may have access to a vehicle and may be entitled to a driver funded by access to work.

There are some people with disabilities who would require the advert in a different format for example by having someone read out the information via the telephone and some people use email as an alternative method. In most adverts there are contact details listed at the bottom of the advert. Is this person well informed about the job and are they able to provide the advert in an alternative format?

The job interview comes with multiple barriers for people with disabilities. Some people with disabilities may find it difficult to get to a job interview for a number of reasons for example they haven’t secured the job with you in order to have access to funding that may enable them to get to work on time, they may have recognised the job advert at short notice and arranging support to enable them to attend the interview could prove difficult. Advances in technology such as Skype or the good old telephone may prove invaluable in opening up this job opportunity to a wider field of candidates.

Advertising equals diversity

Ensuring the way your job is advertised in more than one place is key. Most providers promote their job adverts on one particular platform. How about having a multi-layered approach by advertising your advert on multiple platforms. Some may pose the question that this could be costly for organisations but forums for people with disabilities, social media, and many other advertising channels are sometimes free and provide the opportunity to create a diverse workforce, as inevitably you will get different types of candidates.

Is it all about physical adjustments?

Often those involved in making the recruitment process accessible fixate on physical adjustments such as step free access, lifts, hearing loops, which are the very obvious ones. Although they are still very valuable there is much more to recruiting someone with a disability than this. Being aware of the way in which you speak to someone with a disability, maintaining eye contact and also looking in the candidates general direction when they are vision impaired. It is often the case that because the candidate has limited eyesight the interviewer doesn’t maintain eye contact. By treating someone fairly and with the same level of enthusiasm as a non-disabled candidate, will ensure better rapport. Furthermore if that candidate is then successful in achieving the job there is a better impression of the organisation on the run up to the candidate accepting the position.

Interviewing candidates for a job requires a vast amount of skills in which some people often miss out. Interviewers must recognise their own unconscious biases and have a certain amount of self-awareness to ensure fair treatment for all.

Top tips:

  • Ensuring that job adverts are accessible
  • To hold the job interviews in an accessible location
  • To hold yourself in the same way you would when interviewing someone who doesn’t have a disability

To find out more about making your recruitment process accessible you may wish to attend Disability Awareness Training.

Written by Centre for Resolution

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