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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
Disability Confident (DC) is creating a movement of change, encouraging employers to think differently about disability and take action to improve how they recruit, retain and develop disabled people. Being Disability Confident is a unique opportunity to lead the way in your community, and you might just discover someone your business cannot 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 levels designed to support you on your DC journey:
- Disability Confident Committed employer (level 1)
- Disability Confident Employer (level 2)
- Disability Confident Leader (level 3)
You must complete each level before moving on to the next.
If you’ve not already signed-up as a Disability Confident Committed employer there is further information and guidance available.
Becoming a Disability Confident Employer
You’ll have already signed up as a Disability Confident Committed employer and the next part of your journey continues with:
- reading this guidance
- completing your self-assessment and evidence template
- confirming that you’ve done so and informing us of the actions you’re agreeing to undertake on our website
You’ll find further information and guidance on what to do in the ‘What happens next’ section.
What’s in it for business?
Realising the potential of disabled people
Many employers are recognising the talents disabled people bring.
Disabled people are a hugely diverse group of people, with many amazing skills and experience.
Employers that look at disabled people in terms of having valuable skills (employing people who think differently) and qualities that their organisations need, and focus on accessing diverse talent as a core business activity could get that competitive edge that’s key in business.
This can lead to a very positive impact on the business and potentially on the bottom line profit.
Missing out on the spending power of disabled people
The spending power of disabled people and their families is estimated at £249 billion a year. This figure is often referred to as the Purple Pound. As the population ages and the number of disabled people increase this figure will only increase. A good business will reflect their consumer base in their workforce. 17.5% of the UK adult population have a disability and having disabled staff can help to understand and meet their needs.
Reduced staff turnover
The costs to business of not holding on to staff can be considerable. For example, loss of productivity up to and after the employee leaves, administration costs associated with them leaving (returning working items, exit interviews, closure of IT accounts, removal from pay system), producing job adverts, advertising vacancies, interviewing candidates and planning for and providing the necessary induction and training to get them started and doing the job.
Around 83% of disabled people acquire their impairment during their working lives. If a member of your staff acquires a disability while in your employment it will be much better for your business if you can provide the support they need to stay in work and continue applying their skills, experience and energy rather than having to start all over again with someone else.
Recruiting from the widest possible pool of talent
Employing disabled people is not an act of charity, it’s a reflection of a business that strives to be inclusive of everyone, wants to tap into skills and experience wherever they’re found and supports everyone to give their best, ultimately benefitting the business.
Level 2 explained
To take the next step on your DC journey – moving from being Disability Confident Committed (Level 1) to Disability Confident Employer (Level 2) - you need to carry out a self-assessment, testing your business against a set of statements about employing disabled people.
For further information and sources of advice and guidance on each of these is outlined below and is also available on the DC website.
There is a template for you to record your evidence against each statement.
This self-assessment is designed to enable you to focus on what your business is doing and what additional steps you may need to take. It’s about actions, not words.
Accreditation for a Disability Confident Employer lasts for 3 years. If during that period, you progress to Disability Confident Leader then the 3-year period will restart at the new level. If you reach the end of the 3-year period without progressing, you’ll be able to complete a new self-assessment and renew your accreditation.
The self-assessment is 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’ll need to agree to take all the actions set out in the core actions list and at least 1 from the activity list.
This should not be treated as a tick box exercise, the bullet points in each item should be seen as prompts to the type of real actions you should be undertaking, according to the size of your business.
Throughout this pack the word ‘must’ indicates that it’s a legal requirement. For example, an employer ‘must’ make reasonable adjustments for a disabled employee who has indicated that they want them.
The word ‘should’ indicates that we see the actions as the good practice you should be following to be a Disability Confident Employer.
The ‘how’ are examples of what you could be doing to be a Disability Confident Employer. These are not exhaustive. You may well have other examples of what you’re doing and should record these on your evidence template.
Use the self-assessment template to record your evidence, further actions or 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 your business should be:
1. Actively attracting and recruiting disabled people to help fill your opportunities (including jobs, apprenticeships, internships and work experience)
To achieve this, your business should:
- make a commitment to recruit and retain disabled people and ensure this is reflected in job adverts, at all levels
- Ensure other opportunities that might lead to employment, such as apprenticeships or internships, are available to disabled people
- use your DC badge in your job adverts to ensure potential applicants know you’re an inclusive employer (for example, on the Find a Job website, you can display your badge on adverts and jobseekers can use DC as a job search criteria)
- 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, for example the Work and Health Programme providers (if you’re in Scotland contact Fair Start Scotland 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 Vercida, Evenbreak, Disability Jobsite, Careers with Disabilities and RNIB
2. Providing a fully inclusive and accessible recruitment process
To achieve this, your business should:
- 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
- use your DC badge to make sure potential applicants know you’re an inclusive employer
- 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 DC and know how to support disabled applicants
More information on providing an inclusive and accessible recruitment process is available from:
- Disability Confident and CIPD: guide for line managers on employing people with a disability or health condition
- Recruitment and disabled people
- Business Disability Forum
- Accessible communication formats
3. Offering an interview to disabled people who meet the minimum criteria for the job
The aim of this commitment is to encourage positive action, encouraging disabled people to apply for jobs and provide an opportunity to demonstrate their skills, talent and abilities at the interview stage. An employer can take steps to help or encourage certain groups of people with different needs, or who are disadvantaged in some way, to access work or training. Positive Action is lawful under the Equality Act.
The aim of this core action is to encourage positive action. An employer can take steps to help or encourage certain groups of people with different needs, or who are disadvantaged in some way, to access work or training. Positive Action is lawful under the Equality Act.
In times where you need to limit the overall number of interviews, it’s important to select the disabled and non-disabled applicants who best meet the minimum criteria for the job.
By offering an interview to an applicant who declares they have a disability this does not mean that all disabled people are entitled to an interview. They must meet the minimum criteria (sometimes shown as “desirable skills”) for a job as defined by the employer.
It is important to note that there may be occasions where it’s not practicable or appropriate to interview all disabled people who meet the minimum criteria for the job. In certain recruitment situations such as high-volume, seasonal and high-peak times, the employer may wish to limit the overall numbers of interviews offered to both disabled people and non-disabled people.
In these circumstances the employer, could select the disabled candidates who best meet the minimum criteria for the job rather than all of those that meet the minimum criteria, as they would do for non-disabled applicants.
More information can be found in the:
4. Being flexible when assessing people so disabled job applicants have the best opportunity to demonstrate that they can do the job
To achieve this, your business should:
- plan for, and make reasonable adjustments to, the assessment and interview process – for example, small things such as allowing candidates to complete a written test using a computer can make a big difference
- offer extended or working interviews to enable disabled people to demonstrate their potential
- make sure people involved in the interviewing process understand the DC commitment and know how to offer and make adjustments – for example, a later interview time that takes account of the longer journey time a disabled person may need
5. Must proactively offer and make reasonable adjustments as required
Employers have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ in the workplace where a disabled person would otherwise be put at a substantial disadvantage compared with their colleagues.
Whether or not an adjustment has to be made depends on how ‘reasonable’ it is – and that’s something that will hinge on the individual circumstances of each case, and the resources of the employer. What is seen as reasonable for a large multi-national company might not be seen as reasonable for a very small employer.
Please note this is general advice only and cannot by its nature deal with all circumstances. It is always best to seek your own, independent legal advice if you’re unsure of your obligations in specific circumstances.
Making workplace 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.
Many adjustments are straightforward and easy to carry out – particularly if there’s been a little lateral thinking about how an accommodation can be reached. Often these adjustments will cost nothing or very little.
A straightforward, but sometimes overlooked adjustment is to reallocate tasks that a disabled person may find difficult, such as phone-answering for people with hearing loss.
The Access to Work scheme may be able to provide assessment and advice and can provide financial assistance if there are extra costs involved.
6. Encouraging your suppliers and partner firms to be Disability Confident
You may wish your suppliers and partners to reflect the values your organisation displays, and you may also conclude that your suppliers and partners can also be more effective if they too are tapping into the talents that disabled people can bring.
You can do this by encouraging your partners, suppliers and providers to demonstrate their commitment to being DC by signing-up to the scheme.
You may wish to consider setting clear performance indicators about disabled employment in contracts or frameworks for your supply chain and partners.
7. Ensuring employees have appropriate disability equality awareness
This can be done by ensuring 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 plays in the removal of those barriers and in the changing of attitudes.
The training may include customer care, etiquette and appropriate language for instance.
For example, staff carrying out recruitment will need to be fully aware of the steps to make a recruitment process fully accessible. Managers and supervisors will need to understand how to support their disabled staff. Other employees will need a general understanding of how attitudes, behaviours and environment can affect disabled people.
Theme 1 – getting the right people for your business: activity
Your business must also commit to at least 1 action from the list below to be a Disability Confident Employer.
Enter your evidence for each activity you’ve chosen in the self-assessment template.
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.
A Disability Confident Employer will encourage disabled people to apply for all of their work experience opportunities and support them when they do.
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’ll need to succeed.
More work experience guidance is available from:
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.
A Disability Confident Employer will encourage disabled people to apply for all of their work trial opportunities and support them when they do.
3. Providing paid employment (permanent or fixed term)
A Disability Confident Employer will encourage disabled people to apply for all of 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 the Work and Health Programme providers, for employing a disabled person who needs specialist support, (if you’re in Scotland contact Fair Start Scotland), 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.
A Disability Confident Employer will encourage disabled people to apply for all of their apprenticeship 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 do not yet have appropriate skills or experience.
A Disability Confident Employer will encourage disabled people to apply for all of their traineeship vacancies and support them when they do.
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’ll 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 and that they can be confident that they’ll be supported if they apply for them. Appropriate organisations include:
- Disability Jobsite
- your local disability rights organisation
- provider websites
8. Engaging with Jobcentre Plus, Work and Health Programme providers (if you’re in Scotland contact Fair Start Scotland), or local disabled people’s user led organisations (DPULOs) to access support when required (or both)
- identifying and connecting with national local disabled people’s networks and organisations (or both)
- identifying and connecting with the Work and Health Programme
- 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’s inclusive and accessible for staff clients and customers
Access is not only about meeting the needs of people with physical impairments. It’s also about meeting the access needs of people with, for example, sensory impairments or learning disabilities. An inclusive environment works better for everybody, whether disabled or not.
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’re offering.
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’ve set out here. If so, we would like to hear what you’re doing. If appropriate, we could include details and case studies in future versions of this scheme, to help other employers.
Email your examples to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Theme 2 – keeping and developing your people: core actions
As a Disability Confident Employer, your business should be:
1. Promoting a culture of being Disability Confident
This can be achieved by building a culture in your business where your employees feel safe to disclose any disability or long-term health condition, feeling confident they’ll be supported as necessary.
There may be some conditions, such as mental health, which some staff may be particularly sensitive about sharing, and you should think particularly of ways in which you can make them feel comfortable to reveal this.
The Stevenson/Farmer Review: Thriving at Work is a good source of advice for businesses of all sizes to help you develop your company’s approach to raising mental health awareness, and creating the right support to enable people to fulfil their potential at work.
It’s about creating positive messages in company literature, statements and plans, and challenging any negative images or prejudicial statements.
You should regularly consult with staff about their perceptions of issues, barriers or concerns, and report back on action taken to address these.
2. Supporting employees to manage their disabilities or health conditions
This can 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 workplace adjustments as necessary to support staff, including applications to Access to Work for advice and financial support
More employee support information:
- Disability Confident and CIPD: guide for line managers on employing people with a disability or health condition
- CIPD and MIND Supporting mental health at work
- MIND - Mental Health at Work gateway
- Musculoskeletal health in the work place tool kit
- Business in the Community Mental Health Toolkit for employers
3. Ensuring there are no barriers to the development and progression of disabled staff
This could include:
- ensuring disabled staff are fully included in team meetings and informal communications and that any special communication support they need is available
- encouraging disabled staff to be ambitious and seek progression in the workplace, including increasing hours, taking on additional responsibilities, seeking promotion and ensuring that support is available for disabled staff wishing to pursue this progression
- monitoring, whether formally or informally, progression rates for disabled staff and ensuring they’re in line with general rates
- regularly discussing training and development needs with all staff, including disabled 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
- ensuring that absent staff receive regular contact from their line manager, in appropriate ways and formats, to keep them in touch with work developments and so they know they’re still valued
- ensuring that when a disabled staff member has recovered enough to return to work a support plan is in place. This might include temporary reductions in hours, changes to work patterns and any necessary reasonable adjustments
- where the employee is unable to continue in their current role, despite workplace adjustments, wherever possible offering suitable alternative roles.
The Fit for Work – Employer Occupational Health Advice Line offers free, expert and impartial advice to anyone looking for help with issues around health and work.
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 reviewing your self-assessment will help with this process.
Theme 2 – keeping and developing your people: activity
You need to take at least 1 of the activities below to become a Disability Confident Employer.
Enter your evidence for each activity you’ve chosen in the self-assessment template.
1. Providing mentoring, coaching, buddying and or other support networks for staff
- 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
- 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
- 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 your induction process
Ensuring that new staff and people moving posts receive the appropriate level of disability equality training, ensuring 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.
If you’re wondering how to provide the right level of support in your business, the Stevenson/Farmer Review: Thriving at Work sets out some core standards for businesses of all sizes to help you develop your company’s approach to raise mental health awareness, and creating the right support to enable people to fulfil their potential at work.
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.
Fit for Work provide an employer occupational health advice line.
5. Identifying and sharing good practices in supporting disabled people
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 DC 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 DC 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 your business has undertaken your self-assessment and evidence template, you’ll need to complete this form to confirm that you:
- have undertaken the DC self-assessment
- are taking all of the core actions to be a Disability Confident Employer
- are offering at least 1 activity to get the right people for your business and at least 1 activity to keep and develop your people
You’ll need your DC reference number (which starts with DCS00) to complete the form. You can find this on the email we sent you when you became Disability Confident Committed or on your certificate. If you cannot find it please email email@example.com.
You do not need to send us your self-assessment. That’s for your records only.
In return we’ll send you:
- a confirmation email
- a certificate in recognition of your achievement
- a Disability Confident Employer badge that you can use in your own business stationary and communications for 3 years
We’ll also send information about becoming a Disability Confident Leader.
As a Disability Confident Employer, we’ll include your business name, town and DC status in a list of all businesses signed-up to the scheme on our DC site.
Disability Confident branding guidelines
You can find a copy of the DC branding guidelines on the DC site.
If you require a copy of your DC badge in a different format, email the DC team firstname.lastname@example.org.
Definition of disability
Someone is disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
This means that, in general, the:
- person must have an impairment that’s either physical or mental
- impairment must have adverse effects that are substantial
- substantial adverse effects must be long-term, generally taken to mean for longer than 12 months
- long-term substantial adverse effects must be effects on normal day-to-day activities, such as a breathing condition that impedes walking or moving around or a mental health condition that impedes interacting with other people
A condition that impeded participation in high level competitive sport, or that prevented playing a musical instrument to concert level performance but that still allowed normal day to day activities would generally not be seen as a disability under the Equality Act.
Long-term health conditions
Examples of long-term conditions include:
- high blood pressure
Long-term conditions can affect many parts of a person’s life, from their ability to work and have relationships, to their housing needs and educational attainment.
Mental health conditions
A mental health condition is considered a disability if it has a long-term effect on your normal day-to-day activity. This is defined under the Equality Act 2010.
A condition is ‘long-term’ if it lasts, or is likely to last, 12 months.
‘Normal day-to-day activity’ is defined as something you do regularly in a normal day, such as using a computer, working set times or interacting with people.
If a mental health condition means they’re disabled, they can get support at work from their employer.
There are many different types of mental health condition, including:
- bipolar disorder
- obsessive compulsive disorder
What is not counted as a disability?
Refer to guidance on conditions that are not covered by the disability definition, for example addiction to non-prescribed drugs or alcohol.