The Disability Discrimination Act was set up to ensure that disabled people are treated fairly. It can make good business sense to employ disabled staff. The act has been superceded by the Equality Act of 2010 but the principles of both acts are as follows.
Employers cannot discriminate against a disabled person when recruiting, promoting, dismissing or making redundant members of staff on the grounds of their disability.
Discrimination also occurs when a person suffers the following on the grounds of their disability:
- Is unjustifiably treated less favourably than others
- Is subjected to harassment
- Is victimised
Discrimination also occurs when an employer fails to make a ‘reasonable adjustment’ in relation to a disabled staff member. Reasonable means in proportion to the specific circumstances and situation, balancing the costs involved and an employer’s resources. Reasonable adjustments are actions that an employer takes to ensure an employee or job applicant is not substantially placed at a disadvantage compared to others. This could include adjustments to staff training, the recruitment process or staff benefits or the modification of equipment, including changes to the premises, adjusting or adding flexibility to work patterns and rest breaks and giving employees time off to attend medical appointments or for recuperation.
Why Employing Disabled People is Good for Business
There are very good reasons for Employing Disabled People to work for your company. You can:
- Widen your pool of candidates from which to recruit staff
- Gain a competitive advantage by having a diverse workforce that can attract a diverse range of customers. It’s perhaps worth remembering that there are over 10 million registered disabled people in Britain, most of whom are potential customers or employees
- Make your business more representative of the whole community and foster a positive public image as a fair and inclusive business
- Boost staff morale and loyalty by your staff who consider your business to be fair to and representative of all people
- Avoid claims of unlawful disability discrimination
People who have disabilities are not all the same. They are individuals and should be treated as such. It is very important not to make pre-judgments or assumptions when assessing the suitability of a potential employee. Quite often, only very minor adjustments to the working environment or to working hours can open up the door to a previously unconsidered employee who could bring great value to your company. In addition, numerous disabled people are often able to work for companies from home and it can often be worth employers considering if some non-core functions can be relocated in this way.
There is funding available to support businesses who wish to employ disabled people. If you have the attitude that you want the best person for the job, then by not excluding disabled people, you are widening your choice and have a better chance of finding the most suitable person to do the job. Disabled people can often be more committed and more productive than other workers. By recruiting them, it means you, as an employer, take equal opportunities and social responsibilities seriously which, in turn, gains the respect from the rest of your workforce, your customers and your shareholders and investors alike.