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How to Make Your Business More Disability Friendly
In the UK there are nearly 7 million people of working age with a disability or a health condition. Unfortunately, there has historically been a large gap between the proportion of disabled individuals employed compared to non-disabled people. Employers must treat all job applicants equally regardless of health conditions by law and there are benefits of employing those with a disability to consider.
Encouraging those with a disability to apply for positions can increase the number of high-quality applicants, create a diverse workforce and bring additional skills (such as British Sign Language) which can be immensely helpful in today’s diverse society. Additionally, it is easy and affordable for a business to make reasonable adjustments to make their business more accommodating to individuals with a wide range of disabilities.
Reasonable adjustments involve making changes to help disabled people to overcome any potential difficulties that they may have carrying out their role – it is important to make these changes as you can be taken to an industrial tribunal for failing to do so.
There are many reasonable adjustments that could be made, and it will depend ultimately on the individual. A few of the more common modifications include making changes to working patterns, providing wheelchair accessible vehicles from places like Allied Mobility, modifying equipment, introducing ramps and ensuring that information is provided in accessible formats.
Of course, support and adaptations can cost money, but you may be able to receive financial support from Access to Work or through Jobcentre Plus if you are a small company. You should find out during the interview process whether or not any reasonable adjustments will have to be made so that you can start planning changes and ensure a smooth start to employment for all.
It is important that when you post a job advert that you mention you want to increase diversity and you are an equal opportunities employer. As mentioned, by law a company must treat applicants equally, but you can go one step further and encourage those with a disability to apply. This widens the pool of applicants and can greatly improve the quality of job applications, while increasing diversity in the workplace has been shown to be beneficial to businesses by improving innovation and reputation. It can also be helpful to have reviews from current or former employees that show what it is like working for your company if you have a disability.
As an employer, ensuring your business is disability-friendly should be a high priority. In addition to the legal requirements, it can also help you to find better applicants for roles, reduce turnover and help to make your company more welcoming. There may be adjustments that you are required to make, but ultimately your business will benefit greatly by onboarding a disabled applicant that is right for the job.