Disabled people still face significant barriers to getting a job and staying in employment.
The TUC found that the disability employment gap, which is the difference between the employment rates of disabled and non-disabled people, continues to persist at over 30 per cent. Disabled people within the job market are also paid on average 15.2 per cent, or £3,000 a year less, than their non-disabled peers.
Research has also found that disabled people are twice as likely to fall out of work as non-disabled people, with one in ten disabled people leaving the labour market each year, compared to one in twenty non-disabled people.
The TUC’s vision is a future where all workplaces are accessible, inclusive and without barriers that prevent equal participation of disabled people. There is still a lot of work to do to meet this vision.
In the meantime, trade union reps must take steps to make sure that the adjustments put in place to assist members meet that aim and eliminate workplace barriers.
Trade unions have a vital role in helping to address major work inequalities both through supporting their disabled members in work and ensuring that employers implement inclusive policies and practices in the workplace.
TUC research found that one of the most common issues for workplace reps was disability. Over half of reps dealt with disability-related issues between 2014 and 2016, showing the high prevalence of workplace disability-related issues.
These issues included ensuring employers put in place reasonable adjustments for their disabled workers as required by the Equality Act 2010.
Disabled members have told us that when they move roles or their line manager changes, they are often forced to re-explain and frequently renegotiate their reasonable adjustments.
This is both unnecessary and stressful.
One way to address this is for reps to negotiate with employers the use of a reasonable adjustment disability passports. This can sit alongside the employer’s own disability policy, so that the circumstances of a particular individual are catered for.
Disabled members and their union reps repeatedly report a specific issue that causes significant difficulties. This occurs when a disabled members’ line manager changes and despite the fact that reasonable adjustments have already been agreed with the previous manager, they are compelled to explain to the new manager just what their disability is and what reasonable adjustments they require to do their job and renegotiate them.
Going through this process can cause undue stress and anxiety. The need to explain again the adjustments which are necessary and have previously been agreed, arises because of inadequate handover between managers and often because the agreed adjustments are not recorded anywhere by the outgoing manager.
Disabled members have proposed the ‘passport’ approach to support workers to maintain their reasonable adjustments and avoid the stress of having to repeatedly renegotiate them.