There are many valuable sources of information available to employers to help them recruit and support disabled people in employment.

This guidance provides a summary of information and signposts to further resources to enable employers to become more confident when attracting, recruiting and retaining disabled people.

1. Why recruit disabled people?

Nearly 7 million people of working age in the UK are disabled or have a health condition. There has historically been a large gap between the numbers of disabled people employed compared with non disabled people. Many employers have found that by encouraging applications from disabled people, they are able to extend the pool of high quality applicants available to them. It also makes good business sense to engage with the widest possible consumer audience. For an average business, 20% of their customers are disabled people. A workforce that reflects the diverse range of customers it serves, and the community in which it is based, is good for business.

This guide includes information designed to support the recruitment and retention of disabled people. In many cases, the cost of making reasonable adjustments to accommodate people is low, very often funded partly or wholly by the government, through Access to Work. The benefits of retaining an experienced, skilled employee - as well as being good for the individual - are usually far greater than the alternative, which could mean expensive recruitment and training. This guide brings together information which supports the process of employing disabled people as an integral part of recruitment processes.

2. Making disability confidence your business

Employers are crucial to improving employment outcomes for disabled people. Through the Disability Confident campaign, the Government is pleased to be working with employers to remove barriers, increase understanding and ensure that disabled people have the opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations.

We have created a series of posters and example case studies for you to use in your internal communications. We hope you will share these with your customers and networks and help us to create a shared understanding of disability confident good practice.

Disability Confident campaign materials

3. How to recruit disabled people

Find out how to write job specifications or person requirements for a vacancy that do not exclude or inadvertently discourage disabled people from applying for a job.

Use Universal Jobmatch to advertise jobs and search for jobseekers whose CVs match your needs.

Find out about the range of recruitment services that Jobcentre Plus can offer employers.

You can get advice on how to encourage applications from disabled people from Disability Employment Advisers at Jobcentre Plus.

3.1 Making reasonable adjustments at the recruitment stage

Support candidates by asking if they need an adjustment to the recruitment process to allow them to be considered for the job. You should make adjustments if they are reasonable, for example allowing:

  • changes to lighting or room layout
  • showing a visually impaired candidate to their seat and pouring them some water
  • an alternative to a standard interview e.g. working interview, or extra time
  • candidates to complete a written test using a computer

Under the Equality Act, an employer must not ask about a job applicant’s health until that person has been either offered a job, except if one of the exemptions apply. Guidance can be found on the EHRC website. One of the circumstances where questions can be asked is to find out whether reasonable adjustments are required to enable the person to take part in recruitment.

It is against the law to treat someone less favourably than someone else because of a personal characteristic such as being disabled. There are different kinds of discrimination.

Discrimination can include, for example:

  • not hiring someone
  • selecting a particular person for redundancy
  • paying someone less than another worker without good reason

Discrimination does not have to be direct to be illegal, you can discriminate indirectly with working conditions or rules that disadvantage one group of people more than another.

Find out how to avoid discriminating against disabled people during the recruitment process.

You can get help towards making reasonable adjustments through Access to Work.

3.2 Positive action in job adverts: ‘Two Ticks’ symbol

You can use the ‘Two Ticks’ symbol on adverts to show that you encourage applications from disabled people. Find out about how to apply for the ‘Two Ticks’ symbol and the commitments you must make to display it.

You don’t have to track how many job applications you receive from different groups of people, or the characteristics of the people working for you. If you do collect any personal information about applicants, find out about employers’ responsibilities to protect it.

4. Definition of disability

Disability is defined under the Equality Act 2010 as a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on someone’s ability to do normal daily activities.

5. How to support disabled people in work

You must not discriminate against your employees. Find out how to avoid discriminating against disabled people during employment.

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers must make reasonable adjustments to make sure disabled workers are not placed at a substantial seriously disadvantage compared to non-disabled people when doing their jobs, unless doing so would involve a disproportionate burden. Find out what reasonable adjustments are and what you may need to do.

5.1 Helping with extra costs disabled people face in work: Access to Work

You may be able to get help from the Access to Work programme towards some costs where an individual requires support or adaptations beyond the reasonable adjustments that you are legally obliged to provide. Find out more in the Employer’s guide to Access to Work.

Access to Work can support customers in a number of ways. For example it can provide funds towards:

  • special aids and equipment
  • adaptations to equipment
  • travel to work
  • travel in work
  • communication support at interview
  • a wide variety of support workers
  • the Mental Health Support Service

Access to Work does not provide the support itself, but provides a grant to reimburse the cost of the support that is needed.

5.2 Supporting disabled people who need more support to find and keep a job: Work Choice

You can work with Work Choice programme providers who can offer support packages which are designed for your business and which aim to develop the skills and abilities of a disabled person who needs specialist support.

You can find a provider in your local area to help you recruit and retain disabled people through the Work Choice and the Access to Work programmes.

Remploy Employment Services provides wide ranging support to help employers to recruit and retain talented and motivated disabled people.

5.3 Supporting disabled people to remain in work: retention

Employers sometimes need further external support when an existing employee becomes disabled, or their impairment or health condition changes in a way that could mean they face barriers to remaining in employment. Retention support is available through the Disability Employment Adviser and Work Psychology Services within Jobcentre Plus. Access to Work may be an appropriate option and Work Choice providers may also offer additional support. Contact Jobcentre Plus for further details.

5.4 Supporting disabled people who need more support to find and keep a job: residential training

Residential training colleges have been instrumental in successfully supporting disabled people into employment through vocational training and training in independent living. You can work with any of the 9 DWP supported residential training providers, who can offer support in recruiting disabled people and further support, both to a disabled person in work and their employer. Find out more from the Residential Training College’s website.

5.5 Financial help towards employing young disabled people: wage incentives

You could claim a wage incentive if you offer a job lasting 26 weeks to an 18 to 24-year-old who’s participating in Work Choice. There are two rates:

  • £1,137.50 for work between 16 and 29 hours a week
  • £2,275 for full-time work of 30 hours or more a week

5.6 Managing absences: the fit note

The fit note was introduced to replace the old sick note in 2010. Fit notes provide evidence of the advice a doctor has given about an individual’s fitness for work. Find out how you can use the fit note most effectively to help your organisation, and how you can support your employees back to work.

6. Guidance from other organisations

6.1 Supporting people with hidden impairments

The Hidden Impairment Toolkit offers hints and tips on how employers can better support people with hidden impairments such as:

  • Autistic Spectrum conditions including Asperger Syndrome
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Dyscalculia
  • speech and language impairments

The Do It Profiler gives resources for employers to help them to better understand the issues around specific learning disabilities and their relevance to the workplace.

6.2 Employing disabled people and people with health conditions

We have published a list of links that employers would find useful in support of employees with work related health issues.

6.3 Supporting blind and partially sighted people

The RNIB publish a guide to employing blind and partially sighted people for small and medium sized businesses.

6.4 Setting up a disabled employee network

Setting up or getting involved with disabled employee networks can help you to become more confident in recruiting and employing disabled people. Kate Nash Associates have published a toolkit about setting up a disabled employee network.

6.5 Making your website accessible

Making your website accessible for disabled people will benefit your employees and your customers. The Web Accessibility Initiative have published guidelines on making websites accessible for disabled people.

AbilityNet has been a leading authority on accessibility and assistive technology for 20 years and provides a range of high quality specialist services for businesses and others.

6.6 Supported internships

From September 2013 the Department for Education’s supported internships programme will provide employers with an opportunity to see how disabled young people can benefit their businesses. This is a study programme for students aged 16 to 24 with complex learning difficulties or disabilities who need extra support to move into employment. The student will be based primarily with the employer and both will be supported by an expert job coach.

6.7 Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships offer an opportunity to grow your business and give disabled people the opportunity to show an employer what they can do.

6.8 Traineeships

From August 2013 the traineeship programme will support young people who want to work, but who need extra support to gain an apprenticeship or job. Traineeships will give young people the opportunity to develop the skills and workplace experience that employers require. It will be open to young people aged 16 to 19, and those with learning difficulty assessments up to the end of the academic year in which they turn 25. We will look to extend the programme up to age 24 in due course.

The Business Disability Forum (BDF) is an employer organisation that offers information, support and advice on disability as it affects business. The BDF can help employers to make sure that their on-line recruitment tools and processes are fully accessible for disabled people.

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) promotes and monitors human rights and protects, enforces and promotes equality across 9 ‘protected’ areas – age, disability, gender, race, religion and belief, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, sexual orientation and gender reassignment.

The Clearkit is an on-line free toolkit that offers information to employers to help them better understand what they need to do when attracting, recruiting and retaining disabled people.

The British Association for Supported Employment (BASE) is the national trade association involved in securing employment for disabled people. The association aims to raise awareness of supported employment to help people with significant disabilities to secure and retain paid work. The website offers guidance for employers on disability and work. BASE members work closely with disabled jobseekers and employers to help find sustainable work for the disabled person. Their charter sets out the standards that employers can expect.

The Scottish Union of Supported Employment (SUSE) is an umbrella organisation for public, private and voluntary bodies interested in supported employment and social inclusion. SUSE offers advice for employers on developing a diverse workforce.

PLOTR is a careers website for disabled young people, providing help on moving from education to employment. It includes opportunities for employers to showcase their organisations.

The Age Action Alliance offers help for employers to improve the health and productivity of their ageing workforces. The group comprises a range of organisations from the business community, voluntary sector and government, bringing together expertise on age, health and employment.

Health and Wellbeing guidance for Managers offers a range of links that employers would find useful in support of employees with work related health issues.

The Disability Action Alliance brings together disabled people’s organisations with other organisations from the public, private and third sector, to work in partnership to deliver actions that change the lives of disabled people.

The big I.D.E.A., Inclusion, Diversity, Equality, Accessibility, is the central hub for the diversity industry, employers, and jobseekers to communicate. The site brings together the best of what the industry has to offer and combines a broad range of perspectives from employers, jobseekers, and diversity policy makers.

The Mental Health Foundation is a leading mental health research, policy and service improvement charity and offers a range of training and courses for both individuals and employers.

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