Nearly two-thirds (65%) of the union reps responding to the TUC’s 2016 Equality Audit said that disability-related sickness absence was the number one equality issue they dealt with at work. The finding comes from a TUC study published today (Tuesday) on the first day of Disability History Month.
Disability-related sickness absence was the top equality topic in both public and private sectors, and in all regions and nations of the UK except London. Reps told the TUC that disabled people can have higher or more frequent rates of sickness absence, but that workplace policies were not adjusted to account for this. They said more work was required to ensure managers had adequate training to manage disabled workers.
Most disability-related sickness absence can be more effectively managed through better policies, implemented in partnership with staff unions, says the TUC. Reasonable changes to the working patterns of disabled members of staff – such as being able to work flexibly or work from home and to have time off for medical appointments – would minimise disability-related sickness absence and discrimination.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Disabled people deserve a fair deal at work. Employers can do much more to remove the barriers that prevent disabled people from working. Adjusting working patterns, open communication with staff and good equality policies all help.
“Unions are working hard to win decent pay, opportunities to training and promotion at work for disabled people. I would urge all disabled people at work to join their union, to make sure they get their voice heard and their interests represented.”
The TUC’s top 5 tips for union reps supporting disabled people at work are:
Notes to Editors:
- The TUC Equality Audit 2016 was carried out by the Labour Research Department and is available at www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/Congress_2016_TUC%20Equality%20Audit_Digital.pdf
- Disability History Month runs from today (Tuesday 22 November) until Thursday 22 December 2016. It is an annual event showcasing the history of disabled people’s struggle for equality and human rights. For more information please visit: http://ukdhm.org/
- The hashtag for Disability History Month is #UKDHM
- All TUC press releases can be found at tuc.org.uk/media
- TUC Press Office on Twitter: @tucnews
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