Disabled workers are being failed by employers
A staggering 73% of disabled workers in the UK say they have stopped working due to a disability or health condition*, according to new research from disability charity Leonard Cheshire.
My line manager didn’t help me at all and I became isolated due to my disability.Yvonne
These latest findings reveal an unacceptably harsh landscape for disabled workers, with:
- 66% of managers saying the cost of workplace adjustments are a barrier to employing a disabled person — up from 60% in 2017
- 24% of UK employers saying they would be less likely to hire someone with a disability
- 17% of those that had applied for a job in the past five years saying the employer withdrew the job offer as a result of their disability
Yvonne, from London, who is taking part in Leonard Cheshire’s ACE (Able, Capable, Employable) programme, had previously been forced to give up work after not receiving any support for her disability.
‘My line manager didn’t help me at all and I became isolated due to my disability.
‘I felt frozen out and took early retirement because I was so low. On my last day nobody said goodbye or sent me a card. I was made to feel worthless.’
Attitudinal barriers continually featured in the latest research. Of the employers that said they were less likely to employ someone because they were disabled, 60% were concerned that a disabled person wouldn’t be able to do the job.
Of the disabled people who applied for a job in the last five years, 30% said they felt like the employer had not taken them seriously as a candidate.
Similarly, during the recruitment process, just 20% of these disabled applicants were made aware of workplace adjustments that could be made to support their disability, such as assistive technology or flexible working.
Neil Heslop, Chief Executive Officer at Leonard Cheshire, said:
‘Our research reveals a tough and unwelcoming employment landscape for disabled people despite overall employment levels climbing to record highs. Most disabled people in 2019 remain frozen out of the world of work.
‘More employers need to seize the opportunity of the untapped talent of disabled people.
‘Straightforward measures exist to support individuals to get jobs or prevent those in work from falling out of employment due to a disability or health condition.
‘All of us must redouble our efforts to challenge outdated attitudes to disability and accelerate the positive change that enables talented individuals to gain and keep jobs.’
In some more promising news, Leonard Cheshire’s research found the proportion of employers in the UK who say they would be more likely to employ someone with a disability has almost doubled, from 11% in 2017 to 20% in 2018.
Greater numbers of employers in the UK are also reporting that in the last 18 months they have hired a disabled person, with a rise from 69% in 2017 to 79% in 2018.
Alex Gemmell at BBC Studios, who took on a disabled intern as part of Leonard Cheshire’s Change 100 programme, said:
‘Some preparation may be necessary but many of the changes [we made] were common sense and likely to benefit everyone in the organisation, not just the Change 100 candidates.’
Rebecca Hilsenrath, Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:
‘Even the smallest of changes can make a dramatic difference in helping a disabled person achieve their full potential at work.
‘Reasonable adjustments in the workplace aren’t just the right thing to do, they are a legal requirement, and it is shocking that so many are overlooking the positive contribution disabled people can make to their organisation.
‘Employers need to make a change now and we need them to monitor recruitment, retention and progression of disabled staff. Once they understand the full picture, they will be able to take action to remove the barriers faced by disabled people.’
Leonard Cheshire’s latest research also reveals increased awareness amongst UK employers of the government’s Access to Work* scheme, up to 59% from 41%.
However, of the disabled people who say they currently received or have previously received Access to Work’s support, 69% reported waiting more than three months for their application to be approved.
Tellingly, only 23% of disabled people in the UK currently receive or have previously received support through Access to Work. Leonard Cheshire is now calling on the government to strengthen and promote the scheme.
Leonard Cheshire’s new report ‘Reimagining the workplace: disability and inclusive employment’ includes further statistics, case studies and the charity’s recommendations.
For further information and interview requests please contact: Sam Buckley on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 3242 0204.
Notes to editors
*Northern Ireland (74%/over seven in ten) Scotland (71%/over seven in ten), Wales (69%/almost seven in ten). Figures are based on disabled people who have, at any time, had to stop working due to a disability or health condition.
ComRes interviewed online 1,647 disabled adults in the UK, aged between 18 and 65, from 29 June to 26 July 2018. Data were weighted by age, gender and region to be nationally representative of disabled adults of working age in the UK.
In 2017, ComRes interviewed online 1,609 disabled adults in the UK, aged between 18 and 65 (15 June to 10 July 2017). Data were weighted by age, gender and region to be nationally representative of disabled adults of working age in the UK.
The employment section data refers to the 1,599 disabled adults surveyed in England, Scotland and Wales in 2016, and does not include Northern Ireland.
Full data can be accessed at www.comresglobal.com. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
Line managers survey
ComRes interviewed 503 UK line managers responsible for or involved in the recruitment process, from 29 June – 19 July 2018. Data were nationally representative by UK region, sector type (public, private and non-sector), and by the number of employees in the organisation.
Last year, ComRes conducted the same research among 504 UK line managers responsible for or involved in the recruitment process, from 15 – 29 June 2017. Data were nationally representative by UK region, sector type (public, private and non-sector), and by the number of employees in the organisation.