More and more businesses are improving the levels of equality in their workplace and employing disabled people. This is a great thing for the workplace, as it increases the number of high quality applications you will receive for each new job vacancy, increases the variety of skills in your business and can create a workforce which reflects the diversity of the customers you serve.
Whether you have elderly employees who rely upon an Electric Mobility Scooter or young, mentally disabled employees, there are some important considerations your business needs to make.
In the UK, businesses are required to make reasonable adjustments to their workplace under the Equality Act 2010 when hiring employees. The intention of these reasonable adjustments is to remove barriers for disabled people who are seeking work or looking to progress in their career. The very minimum expected is an accessible space to have an interview on the ground floor.
Reasonable adjustments do not necessarily have to cost the business a lot, as it can include things such as providing training or mentoring, allowing extra time during interviews and offering information in accessible formats, such as large print.
Despite this, it’s a good idea to invest in improving accessibility long term. This can involve making changes to your workplace such as providing step-free access, installing a lift and providing a disabled toilet. In some offices, doors may need widening to allow access for a wheelchair or mobility scooter to pass through comfortably.Additional equipment may need to be provided to make it easier for your disabled employees to carry out their job.
It’s important for businesses to understand that their disabled employees may have different requirements in comparison to able-bodied employees. For this reason, offering flexible working hours may be beneficial for the business and the employee, enabling them the time to attend any necessary medical appointments or take required rest periods. Businesses will need to discuss whether disabled employees require additional breaks during the working day.
The opportunity to work from home can also be beneficial for disabled employees, as it reduces the hassle which commuting to work during rush hour may cause.
There are a number of organisations available to help businesses with the costs of making reasonable adjustments for their employees. Access to Work is one such organisation which provides financial grants for support systems such as travel to work, support workers and special equipment for disabled employees.
Small businesses, usually those which have 25 employees or less, can receive help with interviewing and accepting disabled employees from Jobcentre Plus. They can provide help such as advising on work place adjustments and arranging support during working hours for disabled employees from local specialists.
In general, businesses simply need to consider whether they are taking all the required action to make working life easier for their disabled employees. They also need to ensure that they are not preventing disabled people from progressing in their careers or attending interviews to avoid legal action from being taken.