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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/disability-confident-guidance-for-levels-1-2-and-3/level-2-disability-confident-employer
The Disability Confident scheme aims to help you successfully employ and retain disabled people and those with health conditions. Being Disability Confident is a unique opportunity to lead the way in your community, and you might just discover someone in your business you couldn’t do without.
It was developed by employers and disabled people’s representatives to make it rigorous but easily accessible – particularly for smaller businesses.
The scheme is voluntary and access to the guidance, self-assessments and resources is completely free.
There are 3 Disability Confident levels to support you on your Disability Confident journey:
- Disability Confident Committed (level 1)
- Disability Confident Employer (level 2)
- Disability Confident Leader (level 3)
You must complete each level before moving on to the next.
Your level 2 journey starts with:
- reading this guidance
- undertaking a self-assessment
- agreeing to all core actions
- agreeing to at least one further activity
Once you have completed these steps, let us know by filling in the level 2 confirmation form.
Level 2 explained
This self-assessment is designed to enable you to focus on what you are doing and what additional steps you may need to take. It is about actions, not words.
In addition to the guidance and information, a list of organisations, groups and providers offering help and support is available.
To take the second step, from being Disability Confident Committed to being a Disability Confident Employer, you will need to self-assess your business against a set of statements grouped into 2 themes:
- theme 1 – getting the right people for your business
- theme 2 – keeping and developing your people
For each of the 2 themes, you will need to agree to take all the actions set out in the core actions list and at least one from the activity list.
You can use the self-assessment template to record your evidence, further actions and comments for consideration as you go through your self-assessment. This will help you if you want to become a Disability Confident Leader and have your self-assessment validated.
Theme 1 – getting the right people for your business: core actions
As a Disability Confident Employer I must ensure that my business is carrying out all the theme 1 core actions listed below.
1. Actively looking to attract and recruit disabled people
To achieve this, your business could:
- make a commitment to employ and retain disabled people and ensure this is reflected in job adverts, at all levels
- connect with local (and, if appropriate, national) disability organisations to access networks of disabled people who want to work – as an example, see the Leonard Cheshire Disability – Change100 for business case study
- run, support or participate in local disability jobs fairs or targeted recruitment campaigns – contact your local Jobcentre Plus to see if there are any being organised near you
- develop links with Jobcentre Plus and access government resources, like Work Choice providers, to advertise your jobs and attract disabled people to apply for opportunities
- work with and place job adverts in the disability press or on disability websites such as Diversity Jobs and Evenbreak
2. Providing a fully inclusive and accessible recruitment process
To achieve this, your business could:
- identify and address any barriers that may prevent or deter disabled people from applying for jobs, including where you advertise, the words you use and how people can apply
- make sure online or offline processes are fully accessible – for example, provide a named contact, telephone number and email for applicants to request support or ask questions
- get your recruitment process tested by disabled people, and if there is a barrier either remove it or provide an alternative way to apply
- provide a short but accurate job description that clearly sets out what the jobholder will be required to achieve, accepting there are different ways to achieve the same objective
- make sure all documentation is available in different formats, if required
- accept job applications in a variety of formats
- make sure people involved in the recruitment process are Disability Confident and know how to support disabled applicants
3. Offering an interview to disabled people who meet the minimum criteria for the job
Some employers will be able to offer a guaranteed interview. If employers do not advertise a formal guaranteed interview they should make it clear in their recruitment material that if a disabled applicant meets the minimum criteria for the job, (this is the description of the job as set by the employer) they will be given the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities at an interview.
To make interviews work well for disabled applicants, your business may have:
- made sure your recruiters, internal or external, know how to support disabled applicants
- identified the core elements of the job and made these known in your job advert, job specification and online content
- provided an opportunity for disabled people to indicate that they are disabled or have a long-term health condition and are requesting an interview
- made sure you invite disabled people who meet the minimum criteria for the job when sifting job applicants
4. Flexibility when assessing people so disabled job applicants have the best opportunity to demonstrate that they can do the job
To achieve this, your business could:
- plan for, and make reasonable adjustments to, the assessment and interview process – such as allowing candidates to complete a written test using a computer
- offer extended or working interviews to enable disabled people to demonstrate their potential
- make sure people involved in the interviewing process understand the Disability Confident commitment and know how to offer and make reasonable adjustments – for example, a later interview time that takes account of the longer journey time a disabled person may need
5. Proactively offering and making reasonable adjustments as required
Making reasonable adjustments, such as changes to working patterns, adaptations to premises or equipment and provision of support packages, will ensure disabled workers are not disadvantaged when applying for and doing their jobs. This includes contract workers, trainees, apprentices and business partners.
Often these adjustments will cost nothing or very little. The Access to Work scheme may be able to provide advice and assistance if there are extra costs involved.
It’s important that your employees at all levels, and any agencies you use, know what to do and know where to turn to for advice.
6. Encouraging our suppliers and partner firms to be Disability Confident
As a Disability Confident Employer, you can encourage your partners, suppliers and providers to demonstrate their commitment to being Disability Confident. You may wish to consider setting clear performance indicators in contracts or frameworks for your supply chain and partners.
7. Ensuring employees have appropriate disability equality awareness
A Disability Confident Employer will ensure all employees have sufficient disability equality awareness, taking into account their role. Disability equality training explores the concept of people being disabled by society’s barriers and attitudes, highlighting the role society has in the removal of those barriers and in the changing of attitudes. The training may include customer care, etiquette and appropriate language for instance.
Theme 1 – getting the right people for your business: activity
You must also commit to at least one action from the list below to be a Disability Confident Employer.
1. Providing work experience
Work experience is usually for a fixed period of time that a person spends with the business, when they can learn about working life and the working environment.
Some work experience positions offer people the chance to try particular tasks. Others can provide an opportunity to watch and learn.
Work experience also provides an opportunity for disabled people to demonstrate their abilities and helps build the resilience and behaviours they will need to succeed. Watch the Mencap and Inclusive Employers video to see the experience of young people during the Learning Disabilities Work Experience Week.
2. Providing work trials
This is a way of trying out a potential employee before offering them a job. It can be informal or by agreement with Jobcentre Plus.
If this is agreed with Jobcentre Plus, an employer can offer a work trial if the potential job is for 16 hours or more a week and lasts for at least 13 weeks. The work trial can last for up to 30 days.
3. Providing paid employment (permanent or fixed term)
As well as providing employment opportunities, a Disability Confident Employer will encourage disabled people to apply for their vacancies and support them when they do. Jobcentre Plus has a range of recruitment services that can help an employer seeking to recruit staff. An employer can get:
- recruitment advice, including specialist support for businesses
- help setting up work trials to give an opportunity to see potential recruits in action in the work environment
- help through Work Choice (for employing a disabled person who needs specialist support), other employment schemes including Work Clubs, and help with work experience
4. Providing apprenticeships
These are for new or current employees. They combine working with studying for a work-based qualification. As well as providing apprenticeship opportunities, a Disability Confident Employer will encourage disabled people to apply for their vacancies and support them when they do.
Employers based in England may be able to get a grant or funding to employ an apprentice. Apprentices must be paid at least the minimum apprenticeship wage.
The apprentice must:
- work with experienced staff
- learn job-specific skills
- study for a work-based qualification during their working week, such as at a college or training organisation
5. Providing a traineeship
Traineeships are designed to help young people who want to get an apprenticeship or job but don’t yet have appropriate skills or experience.
6. Providing paid internships or supported internships (or both)
A paid internship is a period of paid work experience between 1 and 4 months, aimed at college or university students and usually taking place during the summer. Typically, the intern will work full time for a certain employer, where they will gain experience and basic knowledge about a particular business discipline. This valuable experience can be built upon during a placement year as well as in graduate employment.
A supported internship is aimed at disabled people still in education who are seeking work experience and knowledge about a business discipline but whose disability is such that they need special support, often including a support worker or work coach to help them in the workplace. Supported internships do require time and commitment to set up, so might be most appropriate for a larger employer who could offer several of them at once or in succession, sharing support costs and setting up time.
7. Advertising vacancies and other opportunities through organisations and media aimed particularly at disabled people
This can help ensure the opportunities are seen by disabled people. Appropriate organisations include:
- Diversity Jobs
- your local council for voluntary service
- your local disability rights organisation
- provider websites
8. Engaging with Jobcentre Plus, Work Choice providers or local disabled people’s user led organisations (DPULOs) to access support when required
- identifying and connecting with national local disabled people’s networks and organisations (or both)
- identifying and connecting with Work Choice providers
- identifying and connecting with job clubs
- building links to specialist schools and colleges
- identifying pre-trained and supported talent, for example through supported apprenticeships and internships
- working with advocates
Disabled people’s user led organisations (DPULOs) are run by and for disabled people. DPULOs have an important role in:
- providing peer support in areas such as social care, financial services, employment and volunteering
- changing perceptions
- enabling disabled people to have a stronger voice in the local community
They provide advice on a wide range of topics to all disabled people, whatever their impairment. The government recognises the importance of DPULOs and encourages disabled people to use their local organisations.
9. Providing an environment that is inclusive and accessible for staff clients and customers
Access is not only about meeting the needs of people with physical impairments. It is also about meeting the access needs of people with, for example, sensory impairments or learning disabilities. An inclusive environment works better for everybody.
Accommodating the needs of those customers, clients and service users who might be disabled can help you make sure that your business is accessible to everyone. It will also send a message to the world that disabled people are welcome in your business. In turn, this helps to attract applications from disabled people for vacancies or other opportunities you are offering.
Read the Design Council’s guidance on how to create an inclusive environment.
10. Offering other innovative and effective approaches to encourage disabled people to apply for opportunities and supporting them when they do
Your business may have developed other innovative and effective approaches beyond what we have set out here. If so we would like to hear what you are doing. If appropriate, we could include details and case studies in future versions of this scheme, to help other employers.
Theme 2 – keeping and developing your people: core actions
As a Disability Confident Employer I must ensure that my business is carrying out all the theme 2 core actions listed below.
1. Promoting a culture of being Disability Confident
This is about building a culture in your business where your employees feel safe to disclose any disability or long-term health condition, feeling confident they will be supported as necessary. It’s about creating positive messages in company literature, statements and plans, and challenging any negative images or prejudicial statements.
A Disability Confident Employer will regularly consult with staff about their perceptions of issues, barriers or concerns, and will report back on actions taken to address these.
2. Supporting employees to manage their disabilities or health conditions
This could include:
- encouraging employees to be open and to discuss access and support needs
- making sure that employees know that, should they acquire a disability or should an existing disability or health condition worsen, every effort will be made to enable them to continue in their current job or an alternative one
- providing support for existing employees who become disabled or experience health problems, for example through occupational health sessions, offering flexible working patterns and offering home working
- providing reasonable adjustments as necessary to support staff, including applications to Access to Work for advice and financial support
3. Ensuring there are no barriers to the development and progression of disabled staff
This could include:
- encouraging disabled staff to be ambitious and seek progression in the workplace, including increasing hours, taking on additional responsibilities and seeking promotion
- ensuring disabled staff are fully included in team meetings and informal communications
- monitoring, whether formally or informally, progression rates for disabled staff and ensuring they are in line with general progression rates
- regularly discussing training and development needs with all staff and offering appropriate training support as necessary, such as courses in alternative formats, special coaching and accessible training venues
- ensuring there are no unforeseen barriers to progression, such as changes to location or travel arrangements that a disabled member of staff could not do
The guide on good equality practice from the Equality and Human Rights Commission explores 3 areas to help with this action:
- equality policies
- equality training
4. Ensuring managers are aware of how they can support staff who are sick or absent from work
This could include:
- having a clear process for managing absence and making sure all staff know about this process
- where appropriate, making a referral to the Fit for Work service
- ensuring that absent staff receive regular contact from their line manager to keep them in touch with work developments and so they know they are still valued
- making sure a support plan is in place when a staff member has recovered enough to return to work, this might include temporary reductions in hours, changes to work patterns or any necessary reasonable adjustments
Where the employee is unable to continue in their current role, despite reasonable adjustments, you should explore suitable alternatives.
5. Valuing and listening to feedback from disabled staff
This could include:
- ensuring there are opportunities for staff feedback, whether through formal staff surveys and forums or individually, and encouraging staff to participate in them
- encouraging the creation of disabled staff networks where appropriate and creating mechanisms for receiving feedback from them
- regularly reporting on issues raised and what action has been taken about them
- ensuring that line managers encourage staff to speak openly about their views, needs and ambitions in staff reviews, and act appropriately on the points raised
6. Reviewing the Disability Confident Employer self-assessment regularly
A Disability Confident Employer will be looking to continually improve and to take account of changing advice and guidance. Regularly running through the self-assessment pack can help with this process.
Theme 2 – keeping and developing your people: activity
You need at least one of the activities below to become a Disability Confident Employer.
1. Providing mentoring, coaching, buddying and or other support networks for staff
- providing access to support networks can be a good way of helping disabled staff or those with health conditions to develop their skills and build their confidence
- mentoring, where an experienced individual who is willing to share knowledge with someone less experienced, helps guide the mentee’s career through regular meetings and discussions
- coaching is more focused on a specific area of work or area and is sometimes used as a short-term approach where the coach seeks to user their own experience to improve the performance of others by giving tuition or instruction
- a buddy is generally a nominated colleague who can provide support, guidance and training and promote confidence when a member of staff moves to a new working environment
- some companies also encourage staff to set up their own informal networks, including virtual networks using email and messaging services
2. Including disability awareness equality training in our induction process
Ensuring that new staff and people moving posts receive the appropriate level of disability equality training, making sure that they can identify and support colleagues and team members with disabilities and support needs. This will be particularly important for staff taking on line management responsibilities.
3. Guiding staff to information and advice on mental health conditions
Guiding staff to information on mental health conditions and well-being in the workplace can help them identify the symptoms to know how to support their team members and colleagues. Of the national and local helplines and support groups, Access to Work provides a specific mental health support service.
4. Providing occupational health services if required
An occupational health service can provide support for existing employees who develop an impairment/condition or experience health problems. This can be done internally, for example through occupational health sessions, or might be done through an external provider. Access to Work may be able to offer advice and contribute to the costs of this.
See guidance for employers on using Fit for Work to help their employees stay in or return to work.
5. Identifying and sharing good practices
Benefits of this activity are that:
- it shows leadership to share your best practice with your wider business community, and helps support others on their Disability Confident journey
- being a known exemplar of good practice can help attract disabled talent that you might otherwise have missed
- providing specific role models and case studies can help encourage other disabled staff in the organisation or amongst suppliers, networks or the wider community to be more confident and ambitious
6. Providing human resource managers with specific Disability Confident training
Give managers and people involved in human resources, this can include any recruitment agencies acting on behalf of the organisation, specific and continuing training to make sure the organisation is following current best practice in supporting disabled people.
What happens next?
When you have undertaken your self-assessment, you will need to complete this form to confirm that you:
- have undertaken the Disability Confident self-assessment
- are taking all of the core actions to be a Disability Confident Employer
- are offering at least one activity to get the right people for your business and at least one activity to keep and develop your people
In return we will send you a Disability Confident Employer badge that you can use in your own business stationary and communications for 2 years. We’ll also send you a certificate in recognition of your achievement and information about becoming a Disability Confident Leader.
As part of awarding you your Disability Confident Committed badge we will include your business name and expiry date on the list of Disability Confident employers that have signed up.
Case studies and resources
Developed by employers and disabled people’s representatives, this scheme is designed to help employers make the most of the opportunities provided by employing disabled people.
See what others say about the benefits of being Disability Confident in these case studies.
Ensure you understand the definition of disability and examples of long-term health conditions.