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Good News for Disabled Job Seekers!

By Solicitor, Employment

Official figures published last week revealed that an extra 54,600 people with disabilities in London have found employment over the past year. This reflects a 5.2% increase on last year's figures.

HM Government has recently supported a number of work schemes which encourage larger companies to employ disabled people. One such scheme is the Disability Confident campaign. Through this campaign, the Government is working with employers to remove barriers, increase understanding and ensure that disabled people have the opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations.

The good news is that initiatives such as the Disability Confident campaign will inevitably raise awareness of the difficulties faced by many disabled people looking for work across the UK. They will also enable employers to take a more open minded approach to employing disabled people and should reduce the stigma that is often attached to disabled workers.

It is also reported by Liz Sayce from the charity Disability Rights UK that the Government's flagship Work Programme which is supposed to help job seekers find and stay in work, seems to ignore people with the most severe conditions. This is an issue which clearly needs to be addressed.

That said, it is promising to see that some of the big companies such as Sainsbury's, Asda and the Royal Mail have signed up to the Disability Confident campaign. Hopefully, smaller companies, who may have reservations about the costs of employing disabled people will follow suit.

The study also suggests that where employers support disabled employees, and commit to making adjustments, employees are likely to remain with that employer for longer.  Surely, these factors alone should influence more employers to consider employing more disabled people nationwide.

The recent figures show that 47% of the 788,800 registered disabled people in London are currently employed. These figures indicate that more than half of people with disabilities in London are still out of work. This is a significant amount of disabled people without jobs. It is therefore important that there continues to be an increase in the numbers of disabled people in work.

Whilst the current schemes are a good starting point to encourage disabled people to apply for jobs that may seem inaccessible to them, employers need to educate themselves and gain better awareness to encourage them to employ more disabled employees. The onus cannot simply be on disabled employees to obtain support and this would be ineffectual without more employers understanding what their duties are.

If you're a disabled job seeker, what can you do to help yourself into employment?

1. When applying for jobs, look for the ‘positive about disabled people’ symbol (2 ticks symbol) on adverts and application forms. The 2 ticks symbol means the employer is committed to employing disabled people. If a job advert displays the symbol, you’ll be guaranteed an interview if you meet the basic conditions for the job.

2. Speak to a Disability Employment Adviser at your local Job Centre. A Disability Employment Adviser can help you find a job or gain new skills and tell you about disability friendly employers in your area.

3. Speak to your local Disability Employment Adviser about programmes and grants to help you into work or back into work.

What are your legal rights as a disabled job seeker?

1. It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against you because of a disability:
· In the arrangements it makes for deciding to whom to offer employment.
· As to the terms on which it offers you employment.
· By not offering you employment.

In addition, an employer must not harass you because of your disability, if you have applied for employment.

2. An employer who’s recruiting staff may make limited enquiries about your health or disability. You can only be asked about your health or disability in specific circumstances where necessary e.g. to help decide if you can carry out a task that is an essential part of the role or for monitoring purposes.

3. In most cases, it is good practice for an employer not to ask any questions about disability or health until after a job offer has been made.

4. An employer has to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to avoid you being put at a disadvantage compared to non-disabled people in the workplace. e.g. adjusting your working hours or work station.

Remember, the law is there to protect you.

If you feel you have been discriminated against because of a disability whilst looking for work, you should seek expert legal advice from an employment Solicitor.

Marsha Thompson is an Employment Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in central London.

For more information or to speak with an Employment Lawyer call freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online and we'll be happy to help.

Slater and Gordon are a leading Employment Law firm with offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Derby, Merseyside, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Halifax, Newcastle, Wakefield & meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire & in Hull, Yorkshire.