[Mythbuster] It is too expensive to hire disabled workers

Suzanne Tanser

Suzanne Tanser

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01 Aug 2018

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Only a small percentage of disabled employees require reasonable adjustments that actually cost the employer anything.

Examples of reasonable adjustments that don’t incur a cost include:

  • Flexible working hours (or a phased return to work following an accident)
  • A designated parking space
  • Providing a ground floor workstation if the employee struggles with mobility
  • Allowing the employee to choose their own desk/workspace
  • Allocating some of the tasks of the role to another employee or have two or more employees share responsibility.
  • If the individual struggles with sight, make sure they work in a well-lit area.
  • If the individual struggles with hearing, make sure phones and other equipment are adjusted so the employee can hear them.

There are many, many more no-cost adjustments that can be made, depending on the employee’s condition. Current figures show that approximately one in eight people in the UK have a disability, but 92% of those individuals are not wheelchair bound. Many disabled individuals have ‘non-visible’ conditions as defined by the Equality Act 2010. These can range from issues such as diabetes to musculoskeletal disorders. Most of these individuals will not require costly adjustments to accommodate them. Of course, in some cases there will be a cost, especially with more specialist or physically demanding roles. The average cost of a reasonable adjustment varies depending on particular reports and publications, but the estimate lies somewhere between £30 - £180 per individual. The size (and cost) of the adjustment is usually relative to the size of your company. A larger company has the capacity to make greater adjustments, and so, is expected to do so. The best starting point for considering adjustments is to ask if reasonable adjustments will need to be made to accommodate the individual during their interview. DO NOT ask the individual to disclose a disability as this is a breach of the Equality Act 2010, and you could face a discrimination claim as a result. If the individual is offered the role, you can inquire as to whether those adjustments will also be suitable for them to take on the role. In some circumstances, where a cost is required to make adjustments, you can get help and funding from the Government via Access to Work. So, to summarise, the vast majority of disabled employees will not require costly adjustments to be made to accommodate them, for those who do require adjustments, the cost is often minimal, and even then, employers can get access to support and funding from the government. For more information and advice on managing the costs of employing disabled individuals, contact Croner on 0808 145 3377

About the Author

Suzanne Tanser

Suzanne Tanser is the Reward Manager at HR and reward specialists Croner. Suzanne is a pay & benefits expert who has a long history of working in the legal services industry.

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