Report confirms widespread workplace discrimination

A report on workplace discrimination has found that the Equality Act is failing to protect thousands of Disabled workers.

Commissioned by the Association of Disabled Professionals, the report says it found:

“significant misconceptions (wrong assumptions) of employers and line managers with reference to what disability means, how Disabled people should be treated in the workplace, and the costs of reasonable adjustments”.

The research by two University College London academics comes six years after the All Party Parliamentary Group on Disability warned that around 46,000 people are “managed out” of their jobs every year.

Key findings and recommendations include:

a) The Government’s Access to Work scheme can frustrate employers and Disabled applicants by being inflexible or slow in responding – leaving the employee to start work without agreed reasonable adjustments in place.

b) The cost of legal representation at employment tribunals is much too expensive for many Disabled people and lawyers often recommend early settlement of cases because the tribunal process can be “traumatising”.

c) Employers should develop inclusive, accessible and disability-positive cultures to increase trust and create safe spaces for conversations about disability and the provision and costs of reasonable adjustments.

The report is based on interviews with 38 experts on disability – including people from the private sector, politicians, lawyers, third sector representatives, union officials and Disabled people with lived experience.

Highlighting the role of Disabled and Deaf people’s organisations, the report says they should be seen as a valuable source of advice and support.

Forum Co-Chair, Gordon Richardson, said:

“It is good to at last hear another organisation saying the same thing as the Forum has been saying for years – while we hear a lot of government talk about closing the disability employment gap, it has failed to address the problems Disabled people experience in getting or keeping employment by not funding such work. 

“Instead, it has only ever focused on Disabled people as the problem – as shown by the many government schemes that have, and still do, view us as not being able to get work because of our attitudes, our confidence and our lack of skills.

“This research reminds us that decades after discrimination was made illegal Disabled people still face ignorance and huge levels of unfairness in getting and keeping jobs.”

Between problems with the Government’s Access to Work scheme and lack of action or understanding by employers Disabled people are often let down – which increases their workplace stress and causes many people to lose their jobs.

Ableism and the Labour Market, written by Dr Sarabajaya Kumar and Dr Colin Provost, is available here.  A link to a podcast with the authors discussing their research can be accessed if you click on this link. You need to scroll down through the publications list.

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