Being disabled should not be a barrier to finding employment – and thanks to legislation like the Equality Act 2010, discrimination against people with a disability in the workplace has been rightfully outlawed.
The law rules it is direct disability discrimination when an employer treats a person with disability less favourably. It is classed as indirect disability discrimination if an employer applies policies or practices in the workplace that put a person with disabilities at a disadvantage.
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Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has had a negative impact on disability employment, according to statistics from the Commons Library Briefing, released in April 2021. Of the 8.4 million UK people aged 16 to 64 who reported they were disabled in October to December 2020, an estimated 4.4 million were in employment. This meant 52.3% of people with a disability were employed – down from 54.1% during the same period in 2019, before the pandemic. The employment rate during the same period for people who were not disabled stood at 81.1% – down from 82.2% the previous year.
Sadly, the Office for National Statistics has revealed a higher proportion of people with a disability have been made redundant during the pandemic. Between July and November 2020, 21 per 1,000 were laid off, compared with 13 per 1,000 non-disabled employees.
In general terms, before the pandemic, the number of people with a disability in employment had been steadily increasing since 2013. Between December 2013 and December 2020, this number increased by 1.41 million – an increase of 47%. There are hopes the trend will continue, once the Covid-19 pandemic abates. After all, employers can make sure their premises are suitable for all, thanks to government support to provide reasonable adjustments to make the workplace accessible.
The government launched an initiative in November 2017 in an attempt to get one million more people with a disability into employment by 2027. The ten-year plan was announced in the White Paper, Improving Lives: The Future of Work, Health and Disability – aimed at helping them to find work, while also providing investment to help them stay in their job.
A Personal Support Package launched by the government provides £330 million to help people with a disability find work. It is also working with disability charities and organisations to produce a National Strategy for Disabled People, with the key proposals relating to employment support, covering all aspects of finding and keeping a job.
Access to Work
A scheme known as Access to Work offers grants to employees with a disability and the self-employed – can be used to provide financial and practical support. In the financial year 2019 to 2020, around 39,000 people in the UK were approved for Access to Work provision.
The funding can be used for various purposes including providing communication support for interviews; adapting business premises and vehicles; purchasing special aids and equipment; helping with travel costs; funding support workers and providing a mental health support service.
On 1st April 2020, the maximum Access to Work amount an individual can receive annually was increased to £60,700 – this is reviewed annually. Employers may also be asked to contribute a sum towards any improvements implemented by Access to Work.
Mental health services
An additional 1,000 Mental Health Support Service places have been announced as part of the Personal Support Package. This service provides six months support when someone starts a new job, as part of the Access to Work initiative.
In the financial year 2019 to 2020, 7,600 people received mental health support – up from 4,500 in the financial year 2018 to 2019.
Other schemes aimed at helping people with a disability in to work include:
- Disability Confident – helping businesses to improve the way they attract, recruit and retain employees
- The Work and Health Programme – an employment support scheme that helps individuals to find and keep a job
- Intensive Personalised Employment Support programme – launched in 2019 to help employees with more complex needs
- Personal Support Package – run by a Disability Employment Adviser Leader and a team of Disability Employment Advisers
- Flexible Support Fund – tailoring back-to-work support for individual needs
While the many government schemes are a huge boost, staying healthy while at work is crucial. Sleeping well is the key to waking up feeling ready to face the challenges of the day ahead.
However, many people with disabilities might not be getting a good night’s sleep, according to the experts. People with certain neurological disabilities in particular face challenges when it comes to bedtime.
When neurological development is impaired, sleep may not follow the “typical” patterns. This can be the case for people with autism, epilepsy, ADHD, cerebral palsy, Huntington’s, Down syndrome, traumatic brain injury and other conditions.
For some, sleep issues caused by their disability are adversely affecting the working day. In these instances, a special bed that is both comfortable and safe can help to alleviate poor sleep patterns.
Contact Kinderkey for information on our full range of safe sleep solutions. We’re offering virtual product assessments, enabling real-time, safe interaction between our advisors, clients and healthcare professionals during the Covid-19 pandemic. Please give us a call on 01978 820714 for an appointment.