From the 29th August to the 9th September 2012, the world gushed with pride whilst as many as 4,200 worldwide Paralympic Athlete’s wowed us with their amazing sporting talents. With this fresh in the heads of many, what better time to address the issues of disabled job seekers? For those with disabilities in search of a job, the quest can prove laborious and expose a variety of obstacles for the jobseeker as an individual, aside from the initial barriers from the disability itself.
In 2009 it was reported by the Office for National Statistics that there were ‘1.3 million disabled people in the UK who are available for and want to work’, so why are they unable to find work? Is there still biased towards those with disabilities, or is it simply that those seeking work with disabilities just do not know where to look? We are told not to judge a book by its cover, so surely this should be of relevance when it comes to disabled job seekers and employees. An employment service for disabled and disadvantaged people said, ‘Often society can disable people more than health condition or disability, with attitudes and assumptions preventing people from reaching their work-related goals.’ If this is the case, then not only are employers preventing disabled job seekers from finding work, but consequently they themselves could be missing out on the perfect candidate for a job.
Evenbreak, a not-for-profit social enterprise who match ‘employers who value diversity with talented disabled clients’ also explored the issues disabled job seekers face. Aside from the obvious physical barriers disabled job seekers face, Evenbreak also expresses other complications both job seekers and employers might experience such as ‘Lack of confidence around employing and managing disabled people, and a fear of “getting it wrong” ’. This showing that employers aren’t necessarily being biased when it comes to hiring those with a disability, but in fact suggests that maybe there is not enough support out there on how to address what could appear a touchy subject.
As for progressing as a disabled worker, under the Equality Act 2010, workers must be given access to training opportunities, recreation and refreshment facilities. Also, reasonable adjustments must be made to suit disabilities, for example doing things a different way. If a particular way of working prevents a disabled worker from progressing, alterations must be made to make things easier.
Employers may also not know that they can use the ‘Two Ticks’ symbol to advertise that they encourage disabled applicants. By gaining permission from the Jobcentre Plus to do so, this symbol shows five commitments the company have made, such as interviewing all disabled applicants as long as they meet the minimum requirements and to reviewing the commitments every year and assessing what has been achieved and plan ways to improve. HR departments should look into the agreement as it does not only benefit applicants but also the company itself. In showing that a company is willing to consider all applicants regardless of disabilities, a competitive edge can be gained creating a desirability to work with the company and the talent pool widened. A diverse work force can also keep up morale as working with different types of people brings variation to jobs and daily life keeping staff motivated.
Support for disabled workers and employers of disabled workers is therefore readily available and leaves no reason for disabled workers not to be considered. Initial barriers are usually easily knocked down when they are looked into seriously. HR departments should contact their local council if in doubt of any issues surrounding employing disabled workers as should workers in search of jobs making for a more diverse and consequently happier environment.
By Holly Hereford