Following last August’s publication of the Government’s National Disability Strategy, the group has launched its own Disability Employment Charter as a clear mandate for action.
The Charter, drawn up by charities, academics and trade unions, calls on the Government to make large employers publish annual data on the number of disabled people they employ as a proportion of their workforce, and their pay gaps.
Other proposals include the option to work flexibly, stronger rights to paid disability leave for assessment, rehabilitation and training, improvements to the Disability Confident and Access to Work schemes, and an increase in Statutory Sick Pay to the European average.
The Charter also calls for employers to notify employees on decisions regarding reasonable adjustment requests within two weeks.
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Disabled workers often wait far too long for even the most simple of workplace adjustments to be put in place. The Government should give employers a two-week deadline to agree the required changes to offices and equipment. This would help prevent employees leaving their roles frustrated at lengthy delays.”
Kamran Malik, CEO of Disability Rights UK said: “Disabled people face a range of hurdles in finding and progressing in work, which just shouldn’t be there.
“The Charter simply and powerfully sets out the concerted actions that Government needs to take to move the dial forward. It’s not enough to tinker round the edges, we need a bold plan to bring down the barriers.”
Professor Kim Hoque, co-founder of Disability@Work, described the Charter as “a powerful and timely message to Government.”
Lord Shinkwin, chair of the Centre for Social Justice Disability Commission from 2020 to 2021, said: “Transparent and consistent data reporting, the lead call of this Charter, is the first step towards building a level playing field on which businesses can compete for top disabled talent.
“It’s time the Government built on the success of gender pay gap reporting and realised the potential of this tool to bring about true meritocracy and equality of opportunity.”
Currently, disabled people face a disability employment gap that has remained persistently high over the past decade at 30 percentage points and a pay gap of 19.6%, alongside poorer work-life balance, job-related mental health, and job satisfaction.
Disabled people have also been particularly negatively affected by the pandemic: 21 in every 1,000 disabled people were made redundant in 2020, compared to 13 in every thousand for the rest of the population.
Clare Gray, Shaw Trust Foundation lead for Disability Advocacy and Accessibility: “In 2021 the labour market is beginning to recover post-pandemic. But despite the job market improving, too many people miss out from opportunities that good work can bring, and the disability employment gap remains stubbornly high.”
Gemma Hope, Director of Policy at Leonard Cheshire: “Disabled people’s work life has been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. With the labour market slowly improving the Government must close the disability employment gap so disabled people are not further left behind.”
Diane Lightfoot, CEO of Business Disability Forum: “The Charter sets out the responsibilities that we all have – as business, government and providers – to work with disabled people to find solutions and to recognise the valuable contribution that everyone can make to the workforce.”
- The Charter, created by the Business Disability Forum, the DFN Charitable Foundation, Disability Rights UK, Disability@Work, Leonard Cheshire, Scope, Shaw Trust Foundation, UNISON, and University of Warwick, has been signed by: Advance UK, Aspire, Base, Certitude, Changing Our Lives, Charities Aid Foundation, Choice Support, DBC, Disability Cornwall, Disability North, Disability Peterborough, Epilepsy UK, HFT, Living Options Devon, Mencap, MS Society, National Star, NCVO, Parallel Lifestyle, RNIB, RNID, Sense, Spinal Injuries Association, Sign Health, Three Cs, Unity Works, Vibrance, VODG