Today’s blog article has kindly been provided by Ryan Compton, Director of Centre for Resolution, and is the next instalment in the four part series on the process of employing someone with a disability. Ryan writes:
In the last two parts we talked about legislation and what this might look like for an employer to employ someone with a disability; reasonable adjustments; accessible job adverts and interviewing. Now we are going to continue into the things an employer can do to ensure that a person with a disability has the same opportunities to fulfill their role as their non-disabled peers.
Ensuring individuals with disabilities are able to carry out their day to day tasks can be seen as daunting for people who have little or no experience or knowledge of disability. Many are not aware of the solutions which are available to support people with disabilities.
One of the simplest ways to ensure best practice is to engage a workplace assessor. Workplace assessments are usually carried out by individuals that have expertise in specific areas of disability; for example an expert in vision impairment would come to your workplace to carry out an assessment of the day to day activities of an employee with a vision impairment. The workplace assessor would be able to suggest effective ways for the individual to work as well as equipment including magnification software, voiceover software or things as simple as better lighting at the employee’s work station. The few examples I have given may seem small but they can actually make a job that was inaccessible accessible for the person with a disability. The assessor would provide a full report once the assessment had been completed, with suggestions of reasonable adjustments that could be implemented.
How much is ‘Reasonable’ going to cost me?Did you know that the average cost of a reasonable adjustment is only £75.00 per individual? This cost is significantly lower than what most employers and service providers would expect. Of course this number is an average and some individuals’ needs could cost slightly more.
You may now think: is there any help with the cost of reasonable adjustments? …The answer is yes.
As discussed in previous blogs the government has a scheme called Access to Work. Access to Work is a grant that can provide partial or full funding for employees with disabilities. It may cover things like a support worker, equipment and other support services. Most of the things we discuss in this blog today can be funded by Access to Work.
There are a few key things that an employer can do to ensure that someone with a disability can work effectively. Flexibility and practicality are two things that cost nothing but make a huge difference. You could think about timing of breaks, frequency of breaks and duration of shifts a person with a disability might work: for example if an employee has a condition which makes them tired it may be that they work their hours over 5 days as opposed to their scheduled 4 days.
The benefits for the employer are clear:
- You are ensuring you get the best out of your employee
- The workforce will be happier
- You will have a diverse workforce with a multitude of skills
The Probation Period
So we have taken a look at employing someone with a disability, but what about the probation period? When an individual first starts a new job there is a probation period and once the probation period has been successfully completed then the individual goes on to work permanently for the organisation.
The probation period is a difficult one for people with disabilities, as the implementation of reasonable adjustments doesn’t happen that quickly. It may be that the reasonable adjustments have been implemented more towards the end of an individual’s probation period and so they may have been unable to hit targets etc. The key point is that employers need to take into consideration that during this time an individual with a disability may not have been able to complete certain tasks without the right equipment or reasonable adjustments.
Is your working environment accessible?
There are a number of things employers can do prior to or once they have employed someone with a disability, to make the working environment more accessible. Disability awareness training is a fantastic tool to engage staff in the best ways to effectively communicate, to explore the sometimes delicate subject of disability, and to help you to understand and harness disability within the workplace.
Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there
Some managers, business owners and staff may be under the illusion that they perhaps don’t have someone working in their organisation that has a disability. But as well as visible disabilities there are also invisible disabilities. There aren’t any statistics in the UK about invisible disabilities yet but there was a study carried out in the US, which showed that 74% of the disabled population had a hidden or invisible disability.
A rough road to employment
It is key to remember that there are many benefits to employing people with disabilities. Usually the road to employment for someone with a disability is difficult as they face many barriers. This of course makes people with disabilities work to their best as they appreciate the job and want to ensure that they keep it. People with disabilities are also fantastic problem solvers as they regularly have to overcome their own barriers on a day to day basis. In addition there are disabilities that have certain skill sets and abilities, for example people with Autism are generally factual, have high levels of concentration and have many technical abilities.
Working alongside people with disabilities creates a very diverse workforce, which means that you have all the skills required to run your business.
The moment that there are barriers for an individual there are barriers for the whole team. Inclusivity includes everybody and excludes nobody.
To find out if your disability is covered by the equality act you may wish to read this blog: www.centreforresolution.com/disability-equality-act-2010
If you want to read more about discrimination at work please click here.
If you would like to know more about our support services please visit www.centreforresolution.com.
We hope you have enjoyed this blog and will catch you next time for our final instalment ‘Retention of Employees with Disabilities’.