Now more than ever, businesses recognise the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. One of the most complex and challenging areas is that of disability – yet it has got surprisingly little attention from employers, the media, or in respect of initiatives from Government, with recent focus and investment tending to centre around gender, LGBT+, and ethnicity. Despite disability discrimination in employment being outlawed since 1995, for many disabled people significant barriers to entry into employment and equality within it, still remain.
In late July 2021, the UK Government set out a new strategy on disability inclusion with Boris Johnson claiming “Our new National Disability Strategy is a clear plan – from giving disabled people the best start in school to unlocking equal job opportunities, this strategy sets us on a path to improve their everyday lives.” In this article we consider the employment aspects of the strategy and the legal implications of them. We also consider practical steps employers can take to better understand and address disability inclusion within the workplace.
With a new UK Government strategy on disability, and focus on health and wellbeing in the workplace increasing, now more than ever employers may wish to revisit their approach to disability inclusion. Disability inclusion is a complex area; employers should appreciate, and where reasonably possible, accommodate the needs of disabled candidates and employees in a way which recognises their specific circumstances. This may require imagination, consultation, a data-led approach, and a genuine ‘speak up and listen’ workplace culture. With changes to access to flexible working and a new right to unpaid carers leave proposed, employers should watch this space for further developments.
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