11 May 2009 14:52
Two-thirds (67%) of employers have a written policy that deals with disability as part of a more general diversity policy, according to a recent survey by Personnel Today’s sister organisation IRS Employment Review.
The survey of 107 employers – representing a combined workforce of almost 390,000 staff – also found that one in six (17%) had a stand-alone disability policy, while one in 10 (10.4%) encompassed disability issues within their main employment policy. Just 5.7% had no policy at all.
More than four in 10 (44.9%) employers had been accredited with the ‘two ticks’ symbol from Jobcentre Plus, awarded to employers that have made certain commitments on the recruitment, retention and development needs of disabled staff. This includes interviewing all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for a vacancy, and striving to ensure that any worker who develops a disability remains in employment.
Almost half of the employers surveyed used government schemes to help with the recruitment and retention of disabled staff. The most popular was Access to Work, used by 87% of respondents over the past three years. It provides advice and support, and helps to cover costs that might arise, such as payments towards extra equipment.
The findings also showed that almost three-quarters (72%) of employers had checked their assessment and selection methods in the past three years to ensure they don’t discriminate against or unfairly disadvantage people with disabilities. Interview arrangements were the most commonly reviewed element, with
79% looking at their interview locations, and 69% assessing interview facilities to assist applicants with visual or hearing disabilities.
Under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), employers are obliged to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to employment arrangements. It is important for organisations to find out whether an applicant has any disabilities as failure to comply with the Act can lead to a discrimination claim.
Almost all (84.9%) of the employers enquire whether applicants had a disability. Most ask when they are invited to an interview (70%), but 45% check at the job offer stage; 42% ask in the application pack; and 9% ask in the job advertisement.
More than nine in 10 (91.6%) employers had made reasonable adjustments to help disabled staff gain employment or stay once employed. The most common adjustments were: acquiring or modifying equipment (81%); altering hours of work or training (74%); allowing them to be absent for rehabilitation, assessment or training (63%); and making alterations to the work premises (58%).
Almost all (98%) the respondents have positive views about employing people with disabilities. However, according to the Shaw Trust – a charity that helps disabled people to find work – only half of working-age people with disabilities are in employment, compared with 80% of those without a disability.