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1 In 10 Businesses Unable To Support An Employee With A Disability Or Health Condition

11 August 2016

Increasing the number of disabled people in employment must be a "national priority"

New research has found that 1 in 10 business people do not feel confident that their organisations would be able to support an employee with a disability or living with a long term health condition.

Disability and Employment

Employment specialists Reed in Partnership and leading charity Disability Rights UK surveyed over 300 people involved in recruitment, human resources or leadership positions within business on their views of the challenges disabled people face entering employment for their new report ‘Disability and Employment’.

Key findings in the report include:

  • 1 in 10 employees do not feel confident that their organisations would be able to support an employee with a disability.
  • 84% of employers told us that disabled people make a valuable contribution to the workplace, however more than one in ten (12%) worry that disabled people are more likely to take time off work.
  • One in five employers consider that the cost of modifying equipment makes it expensive to employ disabled people, and almost half (49%) of respondents said that additional funding for adaptations would help businesses to retain disabled people in employment.
  • Almost a third (31%) said that businesses are worried that disabled people will claim discrimination if the job does not work out.

The report warns that the Government’s commitment to halving the disability employment gap – that is, the difference between the employment rates of disabled and non-disabled people – is at risk unless action is taken. The report makes several recommendations, including:

  • Government expands its scheme to support business with the costs of adjustments, Access to Work, and increases publicity of the scheme.
  • Introduce a ‘one-stop-shop’ to offer help and workplace solutions for people with disabilities and their employers.
  • Encourage and incentivise employers to provide training in disability confidence to their line managers.
  • Employers should create cultures in which people living with impairments or health conditions feel more confident to be open about what they need at work.

Reacting to the report findings, Managing Director of Reed in Partnership, Martin Fallon, said:

“I’m really proud of the work Reed in Partnership does to help people with disabilities and health conditions get back to work. Our Employment Advisers provide tailored support to enable disabled people to move into sustainable jobs. We see first-hand the huge boost in confidence and self-esteem in someone who has been unemployed for a long time getting a job.

“Everyone deserves to be able to participate equally. That is why it is concerning that 1 in 10 people in business told us their organisation wouldn’t be able to support someone with a disability.

“Disabled people are nearly 4 times as likely to be unemployed than non-disabled people. Increasing the number of disabled people in employment must be a national priority.”

Liz Sayce, Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK, added:

“With one in six of the population living with a health condition or impairment, employers are missing out on a huge ‎number of talented people if they don't recruit and retain disabled people. Disability and health issues are part of being human: we all need to accommodate difference.

“Disabled people also often bring assets like problem-solving, empathy and resilience to the workplace because of the challenges they have faced.

“We want to see employers work to create cultures in which people living with impairments or health conditions feel more confident to be open about what they need at work. We would also encourage senior colleagues who themselves live with health conditions or impairments to be open about their experiences and show that disability and health issues are an ordinary part of working life.”