What is the definition of disability?
The Equality Act 2010 defines a disabled person as:
someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to perform normal day-to-day activities.
So, what do these terms mean?
- ‘physical or sensory impairment’ includes lack of manual dexterity, lack of mobility, visual impairment, hearing impairment or speech impairment
- ‘mental impairment’ includes a wide range of conditions related to mental functioning such as learning, psychiatric and psychological disabilities
- ‘substantial’ means more than minor or trivial
- ‘long term’ means that the effect of the impairment has lasted or is likely to last for at least 12 months (there are special rules covering recurring or fluctuating conditions)
- ‘normal day-to-day activities’ include everyday things like eating, washing, walking and going shopping
My organisation is committed to being a disability inclusive employer, but what do we need to do to achieve this?
There are many initiatives you can engage in to demonstrate your commitment to disability and diversity – some of these include: ensuring that your recruitment processes are equitable and fair for disabled applicants; ensuring that you are actively attracting applicants for different programmes that you may run, e.g. targeting disabled students and graduates for your internship or graduate programmes; setting up a scholarship programme for disabled students; ensuring that your HR staff, managers and recruiters have received appropriate disability and equality training to better equip them with the skills for interviewing, assessing and managing applicants/ employees with disabilities; setting up a mentoring programme for disabled employees; setting up a disabled employees network etc.
If you are interested in exploring any of the above further or wish to discuss other initiatives, please do contact us to discuss how we may be able to help.
My organisation struggles to attract disabled student and graduate applicants. Can you help?
Yes, we are experienced and have many established and successful relationships working with graduate employers in many different sectors to attract relevant disabled students and graduates for internship and graduate roles.
What adjustments should we be making to our recruitment processes to ensure that they are fair to disabled candidates?
There are a number of general adjustments you may be able to make to your recruitment processes to make them more accessible to disabled candidates – e.g. ensuring that the text size, visuals etc are not too small or against backgrounds which make them difficult to read or decipher; making sure that the language you use is not in any way discriminatory or discouraging to those with various disabilities; ensuring that you offer information in alternative and accessible formats; asking the candidate about what adjustments they may need and providing contact details of a specific individual to discuss these. However, adjustments are very often candidate specific and need to be considered on a case by case basis – i.e. you cannot pre prescribe set adjustments for the recruitment process that will necessarily be suitable, sufficient or indeed relevant for every candidate. It is, therefore, best to view adjustments on an individual basis dependant upon the requirements of the particular candidate and how their disability affects or impacts them.
EmployAbility carry out audits and make recommendations on the accessibility of employers’ recruitment processes and websites. We also work with employers to make recommendations of reasonable adjustments for different parts of the recruitment process for individual candidates.
What duties does my organisation have and what are reasonable adjustments?
According to the Equality Act 2010, if the physical features of the work premises or the working arrangements are the prohibiting factor to a disabled person gaining or staying in employment, then the employer must make reasonable adjustments to remove these barriers.
Making an adjustment means being flexible so that it is possible for people with disabilities and health conditions to work effectively. It makes good business sense to ensure that everyone can work to their full potential.
Physical features may include access to the premises (e.g. steps, lifts etc.), work station etc.
Working arrangements may include working hours, breaks, tasks/ responsibilities within the role itself etc.
‘Reasonable adjustments’ are changes/ adaptations that an employer may need to make to physical features or working arrangements to enable a disabled person to gain or stay in employment.
To assess what is ‘reasonable’, you should consider:
- the practicability of the adjustment
- how effective will the adjustment be in preventing the disadvantage for the disabled person
- financial and other costs of the adjustment (cost vs financial resources)
Some examples of reasonable adjustments:
- making adjustments to premises
- allocating some of the disabled person’s duties to another person
- assigning the employee to a different place of work, or re-training for another role
- transferring the employee to fill an existing vacancy
- altering the working hours
- allowing the employee to be absent during working hours for rehabilitation, assessment or treatment
- giving, or arranging for, training or mentoring (whether for the disabled person or any other person)
- modifying procedures for testing or assessment and providing specialist equipment and software
- modifying instructions or reference manuals
- providing a reader or interpreter
- providing supervision or other support
My organisation has a disabled employee and we want to know what reasonable adjustments we should be making to support him/her. Can you help?
Yes, we can work with the employee and with you to understand the effects of their disability in the workplace to determine what adjustments he/she may require, and make appropriate recommendations based upon our assessment.
We have hired an individual who requires a full time support worker. How much money will this cost the organisation?
Whilst the onus of cost and making an adjustment falls on the employer, the cost of support workers in the work place is usually covered by Access to Work (AtW). AtW may also make payments for other adjustments such as specialist software or equipment, communication support, travel changes to premises, etc.