The facts around the employment of disabled workers are stark. People with a disability are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people, yet there are around 11 million potential workers who come into the disabled category. That’s a lot of wasted opportunity.
At a time when employers are complaining that they are finding it nigh on impossible to attract the right staff, they could do a lot worse than consider taking steps to attract workers with a disability who, but for the disability would be a good job applicant. Findings from employers who do so are that on average disabled employees are very satisfactory workers. They have less time off sick, are at least as productive as non-disabled workers, tend to stay in jobs longer and have fewer workplace accidents. At one time I employed a young man with a learning disability in a restaurant where I was manager. He couldn't do the full range of tasks at the restaurant, but when we had trained him to do a task which he was capable of doing and he had absorbed the duties, he could be trusted to deliver them correctly and diligently and was a polite, stable and invaluable member of staff in a highly volatile working population. Incidentally, the customers loved him too because he was such a sweetie.
The benefits of employing disabled workers are measurable. It doesn't have to be expensive to employ them. All that’s needed is to make reasonable adjustments. It’s worth thinking about. Here are some pointers.
The Positive About Disabled People two-ticks symbol is awarded by the Employment Service to employers who can show that they follow five recruitment and employment practices.
- Interview all applicants with a disability who meet the minimum requirements for the job and consider them on their abilities.
- Ask the disabled employee at least once a year what you can do to ensure that they develop and use their abilities at work.
- Make every effort to ensure that when employees become disabled they stay in employment.
- Take action to ensure that key employees develop the awareness of disability needed to make these commitments work.
- Review the commitments and what has been achieved annually, planning ways to improve on them and informing all staff about progress and future plans.
Prepare job descriptions to reflect accurately the nature of the job and working environment. This is partly for information for applicants and partly to help make recruiting managers aware of areas where changes might have to be made to accommodate a person’s disability. Avoid unnecessary requirements that may lead to discrimination. For example, a requirement that applicants have a driving licence; it might be enough to require that they are able to travel.
Your recruitment advertisement can encourage applications from people with disabilities. If you have been awarded the two-ticks symbol, you can display this. You could also notify local and national disability organisations of all vacancies.
Make the application form available in different formats, including audio, Braille, large print and electronic.
Companies that are part of the two-ticks scheme are committed to offering an automatic interview to all disabled applicants who fulfill the minimum requirements of the job being advertised. If your organisation operates this policy you can use the person specification to decide whether the applicant meets the essential criteria. If you have concerns that a disabled applicant cannot do the role, explore it further. Don’t make assumptions.
There is a legal obligation to ensure that arrangements for interviews don’t put applicants with disabilities at a disadvantage and there is a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments for disabled applicants at this stage. Interviews should be conducted in the same way as those with non-disabled applicants, focusing on abilities, skills and achievements.
If you use testing make sure they are relevant to the job and be prepared to make reasonable adjustments for disabled candidates, for example, giving extra time in pen and paper tests to applicants with dyslexia.
Only ask only for information relevant to the job, that is, the extent of an applicant’s abilities, aptitudes and experience.
The general rule is that medical checks are only carried out once an offer of employment has been made. If the prospective employee does have a disability, you are under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to enable him to do the role.
If you need help with recruitment or any HR support, get in touch.
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