Helping people with disabilities into work

Looking for a job can be a daunting prospect for anyone, but it can be even harder for people who suffer from a disability. However, there are a range of different schemes in place in the UK to help people with disabilities back into work.

What Barriers Are There To Disabled People Working?

Many disabled people are forced to challenge stereotypes and prejudices when they are looking for work. They may be required to overcome the idea that disabled people are not capable of working successfully.

Disabled people are also forced to consider how their disability could affect their ability to do their chosen role. Although there is some assistance available to support employers to adapt the workplace to make it more suitable for a specific disability, some employers do not know how to access these funds. Therefore they immediately discount the disabled person, even if this violates Equality regulations.

What Needs To Be Changed To Help Disabled People Find Employment?

A large part of the problem that exists in the United Kingdom is related to social and cultural ideas about disabled people. Changing the opinions of employers may help to improve the rate of employment for disabled people. Reducing prejudice against disabled people will encourage more diversity in the workforce.

Improving the flow of information to employers and jobseekers about the support that is available for disabled people in the workplace may also help disabled people to find employment. Boosting the flow of information could help to build the confidence of the disabled person and the potential employers.

What Are The Employment Rights For Disabled People?

The Equality Act 2010 states that it is against the law for an employer to discriminate against a disabled person because of their disability. Areas that are covered by the Equality Act 2010 include; the application form, the interview process, any job offers, the terms of employment, the pay scale associated with the job, the promotion and training opportunities which are offered, and the disciplinary and grievance process.

Employers are expected to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace to prevent the disabled employee from being advantaged in the workplace. This can include adjustments to working hours or the provision of basic pieces of equipment.

An employer cannot make a person redundant specifically because of their disability. The redundancy process must be conducted in a fair and balanced fashion with all affected employees. Employers are also banned from forcing employees to retire because they have become disabled.

Access To Work Grants

The Access to Work grant is designed to offer practical support to help disabled people to get into work or stay in work. It is only available for people who have a disability which has already lasted a year or is likely to last at least a year.

The grant can be worth over £40,000, but it must be used on certain things. The money can be used to buy; adaptations, special equipment, transportation to work, a support worker for the workplace, disability awareness training for colleagues, or communication aids for a job interview. Other purchases are permissible, as long as it can be shown that they are conducive to starting or staying in employment. When a person applies for the Access to Work grant, the Department of Work and Pensions may arrange a meeting with the employer to discuss how the grant should be used.

What Is Meant By Reasonable Adjustments For Disabled Workers?

Reasonable adjustments are small changes which are inexpensive for an employer to make, but which will help the disabled person to avoid being disadvantaged in the workplace. Examples of reasonable adjustments include installing audio-visual fire alarms for deaf workers, special keyboards for people who suffer from arthritis and additional ramps for wheelchair users.

Reasonable adjustments can also be made for people who are suffering for mental health conditions, for example a person with social anxiety disorder may be allowed their own personal desk rather than asking them to hot desk.

Looking For Work If You Are Disabled

Your local Jobcentre Plus should be able to help you to find work if you are disabled. They may also be able to refer you to specialist courses that are designed to encourage disabled people back into the workforce. Some job adverts will include a “disability confident” symbol or a “positive about disabled people” symbol. These symbols show that an employer will guarantee an interview to a disabled person, as long as they meet all of the essential criteria listed in the job description.

Thanks to the additional support that is available in the United Kingdom, it is now becoming much easier for disabled people to find work. If you need any additional support, speak to a JobCentre Plus advisor or Citizen’s Advice.

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