Disability at work

In his latest blog, volunteer Colin looks at what support is available to help disabled people at work and what employers must provide.

As a recently retired wheelchair user employee there are barriers to becoming an employee and legislation in place to support employees with a disability.

When I was placed on the Youth Training Scheme (YTS) in 1983 in order to reduce the unemployment statistics there was no wheelchair accessible transport, therefore I was taken by taxi from home to work place and back.  I was lifted from wheelchair to passenger seat, therefore the driver had to be reasonably agile in order to lift me. This is no longer permissible under Health and Safety Executive (HSE) legislation.

Access to Work can help with the following:

  • British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters, lip speakers or note takers
  • Adaptations to your vehicle so you can get to work
  • Taxi fares to work or a support worker if you cannot use public transport
  • A support worker to help you in work place, e.g. note taker

Eligibility for Access to Work includes:

  • 16 or over
  • Be available for or in paid employment for at least the next 12 weeks
  • Live and work in England, Scotland and Wales (separate system in Northern Ireland called indirect government services
  • Having a physical disability, e.g. wheelchair user or hearing impairment
  • Having a learning disability, e.g. Down’s Syndrome
  • Having a developmental condition, e.g. autism
  • Having a mental health condition, e.g. anxiety or depression

Access to work does not apply to civil servants, your employer will assess you and provide support according to recommendations in assessment

In 2010 The Equality Act stated that employers must make reasonable adjustments for:

  • Employees and employers
  • Contractors and self employed people hired to personally do the work
  • Job applicants
  • They know, or could reasonably be expected to know, someone is disabled
  • A disabled staff member or job applicant asks  for adjustments I.e. compact keyboard where Ctrl, Alt & Del keys are within 1 handspan
  • Someone who’s disabled is having difficulty with any part of the job, e.g. can only use 1 hand and cannot hold phone receiver and take notes at same time
  • Someone’s absence record, sickness record, or delay in returning to work is because of, or linked to, their disability
  • Make reasonable adjustments for anything linked to someone’s disability – e.g. allowing assistance dogs on premises, presenting information in different formats, e.g. braille, sign language
  • Flexible working due to personal circumstances including working from home.