Disability and Employment

Looking for work can be challenging at the best of times, even more so when you have a condition that requires time off for blood transfusions and hospital check-ups. Whatever your condition, you have a right to equality, fairness, respect and understanding at your workplace.

Employees and jobseekers with disabilities are legally protected against discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. You’re legally entitled to fair treatment when it comes to recruitment, promotion and pay. It also means that employers must make their workplaces accessible to you.

If you have any further questions not answered below, please contact our disability and employment representative James Dent at james.dent@diamondblackfan.org.uk

Looking for a job

If you require extra help, a Disability Employment Adviser (DEA) at your local Jobcentre can help you find a job or gain new skills and tell you about your options.

As well as referring you to a specialist work psychologist, if appropriate, or carry out an ‘employment assessment’, asking you about your skills and experience and what kind of roles you’re interested in. you can speak to a DEA at your local Jobcentre.

There are also programmes and grants available to help you into work that include:

  • Work Choice– to help you find a job, and get support when you start work
  • Residential Training– to give you work experience and training
  • Access to Work– money towards a support worker or for the cost of equipment or travelling to work

Applying for a job

When applying for a job, an employer isn’t normally allowed to ask you questions about your health or disability before they offer you a job.

They can only ask you about this for very limited reasons, for example to:

  • Make ‘reasonable adjustments’ – e.g. if you need a large print version of a test
  • Decide if you can do something that is an essential part of the job

If you’re treated unfairly when you apply for a job, you can contact the Equality Advisory Support Service. You may also be able to take a complaint to an employment tribunal – you have to do this within 3 months of the discrimination happening.

Questions about health

According to www.xperthr.co.uk/, employers should not ask candidates about their health prior to offering them a job or including them in a shortlist. This includes asking them to disclose a disability and asking about previous levels of sickness absence in an application form. Not only could such questions raise an inference of discrimination, previous levels of sick leave are not an accurate indicator of future sickness absence. For example, sickness absence could have been due to a newly acquired disability or health condition that the individual is now managing, a one-off illness, or the unwillingness of a previous employer to make reasonable adjustments. Similarly, if an individual’s application form or CV discloses gaps in his or her employment history, this could be a result of medical treatment or rehabilitation. Shortlisters should challenge their own assumptions when reviewing an applicant’s career history and focus instead on the individual’s competence to perform the role, rather than a number of years’ experience.

Disability rights

It’s against the law for employers to discriminate against you because of a disability. The Equality Act 2010 protects you and covers areas including:

  • Application forms
  • Interview arrangements
  • Aptitude or proficiency tests
  • Job offers
  • Terms of employment, including pay
  • Promotion, transfer and training opportunities
  • Dismissal or redundancy
  • Discipline and grievances

Reasonable adjustments in the workplace

An employer has to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to avoid you being put at a disadvantage compared to non-disabled people in the workplace. For example, adjusting your working hours or providing you with a special piece of equipment to help you do the job.

Redundancy and retirement

You can’t be chosen for redundancy just because you’re disabled. The selection process for redundancy must be fair and balanced for all employees.

Your employer cannot force you to retire if you become disabled.

 Useful links

Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service –
https://www.acas.org.uk

Looking for a job –
https://www.gov.uk/looking-for-work-if-disabled/looking-for-a-job

Applying for a job –
https://www.gov.uk/looking-for-work-if-disabled/applying-for-a-job

Work and disability – http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Disability/Pages/Disabilityandwork.aspx

Disability and employment –
https://www.gov.uk/rights-disabled-person/employment

Disability Rights UK –
http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/how-we-can-help/advice-and-information

Financial help if you’re disabled –
https://www.gov.uk/financial-help-disabled

Equality Act 2010 guidance –
https://www.gov.uk/equality-act-2010-guidance

Discrimination: your rights –
https://www.gov.uk/discrimination-your-rights/what-you-can-do

Citizens Advice: Medical checks before offering a job –
https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/discrimination-at-work/what-are-the-different-types-of-discrimination/medical-checks-before-offering-a-job/

Change 100, bringing employers and talented disabled students together –
https://www.leonardcheshire.org/what-we-do/change100#.VZksJBNVhBd

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