Employers and government need to do more to improve disability equality in the workplace.
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Wales TUC carried out a major survey of more than 1000 workers in Wales which found that many disabled workers want to see a change in the way that disability is treated at work. They carried out this research to better understand attitudes towards and experiences of disability in the workplace in Wales, including those of workers with 'hidden' or non-visible impairments. The research gathered statistical evidence as well as the stories of disabled workers to give voice to those experiences.

Key findings of our research include:

  • Over a quarter (28 per cent) of disabled respondents said they felt that their employer views disability as a 'problem' in the workplace and 1 in 3 (33 per cent) said they felt their colleagues view disability as a 'problem' in the workplace.
  • Around 1 in 3 (32 per cent) of disabled respondents reported that disability had been treated as a 'joke' topic in their workplace, and many reported experiencing harassment.
  • Two-thirds of disabled respondents said they felt there was more stigma with disabilities that others cannot see.
  • Over half (57 per cent) of disabled respondents said that they do not feel that people were treated equally in their workplace, compared to 38 per cent of non-disabled respondents
  • Over three-quarters of all respondents said that their workplace had policies in place to help disabled workers but a significant number reported that these did not work in practice due to poor, non-existent or inconsistent implementation.

The need for further trade union action on the issue to press employers and government for improvements in disability equality in the workplace was supported by the findings of the research. As a result the Wales TUC has put together a list of campaign asks of  the Welsh and UK governments as well as a practical toolkit that trade union reps can use to press for improvements in the workplace.

Campaign asks in brief 

The  identified several actions that the Wales TUC believes should be taken by Welsh Government and the UK government to improve the situation for disabled people in Wales as follows:

Actions sought from Welsh Government

  • Promote a national awareness raising campaign
  • Work through social partnership structures to ensure appropriate guidance to devolved public sector employers
  • Consider organisations’ employment practices regarding disability equality when making funding and procurement decisions
  • Establish and promote a national training standard for workplaces based on the social model of disability for employers and service providers
  • Establish a national action plan to close the disability pay gap and improve information gathering and reporting on progress towards disability equality in the workplace
  • Close other ‘data gaps’ that exist on disability equality in the workplace in Wales
  • Encourage greater inclusion of disabled people in apprenticeship schemes

Actions sought from UK Government

  • Review of all UK legislation impacting on disabled people
  • Better funding for the Access to Work fund
  • Effective ‘work programmes’
  • A fair benefits system
  • Extend the full range of statutory employment rights to all workers, regardless of employment status or type of contract

Read the detailed list.

Hard copies of the toolkit, as well as workplace campaign posters and postcards are also available to order from the Wales TUC  - please contact wtuceducation@tuc.org.uk or tel 029 2034 7010 to order copies. Resources are available in both English and Welsh.