How to Make Your Workplace Disability Confident

Barry French

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10 Sep 2019

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There are 7.6 million people working in the UK with a disability.

When it comes to disability, is your business compliant with the Equality Act 2010? If it isn’t, you’re not only putting yourself at risk of discrimination claims, you’re missing out on the chance to recruit talented individuals!

And if you’re not recruiting them—your competition probably is.

Becoming Disability Confident

Overview

Before we dip in to how to ensure your business is disability confident, let’s revisit the legislation:

The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. It sets out the different ways in which it’s unlawful to treat someone.

In particular it sets out the different protected characteristics, one of which is—you guessed it—disability.

What are my duties as an employer?

You’re required to make reasonable adjustments to your premises and management arrangements.

Disabled employees must be afforded equal opportunities to other staff in the working environment, including training, safety and benefits.

What are reasonable adjustments?

Reasonable adjustments can be defined as:

  • making alterations to physical features of premises
  • changing the place of work
  • assigning duties to others
  • altering work hours
  • acquiring or modifying equipment
  • providing a reader or interpreter.

What If my premises are leased?

If the lease prohibits alterations, you may seek the written consent of the landlord.

The landlord cannot unreasonably withhold consent. However, the landlord’s consent may come with conditions.

It is reasonable for a landlord to withhold consent if the change to the premises:

  • results in a substantial permanent reduction in the value of the landlord’s interest
  • would cause significant disruption or inconvenience to other tenants.

How do I find out if my business is compliant?

Before you start getting into discussions with your landlord however, it’s worth assessing whether your workplace is compliant or not.

The first thing you’ll want to do is consider whether disabled employees and visitors have easy access. The best approach is to conduct an access audit and assess whether any adjustments—such as a ramp—should be made.

This type of audit includes a tour of the entire facility, and notes any aspect of the site which might be an obstacle. Once obstacles are identified you need to establish how to overcome them.

You should consult any existing disabled employees for their views.

In some cases, service providers may need to seek specialist advice, eg from a commercial consultancy or a disability group which offers access audits.

The audit should follow a sequential journey through the building, noting the current situation with regard to access and making suggestions for improvement, if relevant.

Get ahead

Join over 13,000 organisations that have already signed up to the governments Disability Confident Scheme, https://disabilityconfident.dwp.gov.uk/ .

Disability Confident organisations play a leading role in changing attitudes for the better. They’re changing behaviour and cultures in their own businesses, networks and communities, and reaping the benefits of inclusive recruitment practices.

The scheme helps employers recruit and retain great people, and:

  • draw from the widest possible pool of talent
  • secure high quality staff who are skilled, loyal and hard working
  • improve morale and commitment by demonstrating that you treat all employees fairly

It also helps customers and other businesses identify those employers who are committed to equality in the workplace.

List of relevant legislation

If you want to directly reference any of the legislation surrounding disability in the workplace, you can find them all here:

Expert Support

If you have concerns about being compliant with the Equality Act 2010, or have any other health & safety issue you’d like guidance on, speak to one of our health & safety experts today, on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Barry French joined Croner in 2018 as a Health and Safety Consultant advising clients all on matters of health and safety compliance. In just under 12 months Barry was promoted to the role of Senior Health and Safety Consultant and now looks after a team of consultants covering the South of England. Barry has over 15 years’ experience as a health and safety practitioner and has been working as a consultant for over 5 years’ in many varied industry sectors including Recycling, Manufacturing; logistics, fleet maintenance, Retail; Education; and the Care Sector.

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