Physical disabilities: at work
If you are looking for support with finding a job, your first port of call should be the local Jobcentre Plus, the government funded employment agency.
Branches of Jobcentre Plus can be found in most cities around the UK and are staffed by employment advisors. The service is open to anyone of working age who needs help with finding a job.
Your local Jobcentre can support you in finding work or gaining new skills through training. They may carry out an employment assessment with you to help explore your skills and experiences and the sorts of roles that might interest you. They may also refer you to a specialist work psychologist for extra assistance.
Jobcentres can also administer claims for benefits such as Jobseeker's Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance.
The government and other public organisations sponsor a number of activities that are specifically aimed to help people with disabilities into the world of work. Work Choice is a major national programme that can help you find and keep a job if you are disabled and find it hard to work. Your local Jobcentre Plus can help you join the programme.
Work Choice is voluntary, and the type of support you receive will depend on your personal circumstances. The support can last for up to six months or over a number of years.
Examples of things you can get help with include:
- Building your confidence;
- Searching for a job; and
- Interview coaching.
Find out more about what you'll get from the Work Choice section of GOV.UK.
Specialist Employability Support
Specialist Employability Support provides mentoring and training to disabled people who do not qualify for other government schemes like Work Choice.
To receive Specialist Employability Support, you must have a disability or health condition, be unemployed and of working age. Depending on your needs, two types of support are available:
- Short-term support and training which typically lasts for around three months; and
- Long-term help usually lasting for 12 months.
You are allowed to choose the organisation that supports you, whether it is your local Jobcentre Plus or a specialist disability employment agency.
The Two Ticks symbol is used by employers in England, Scotland and Wales on job vacancy ads. Look out for the "positive about disabled people" symbol—these show that an employer encourages job applications from disabled people. Employers can only use the symbol after they have been given permission by Jobcentre Plus.
Organisations that have been awarded the Two Ticks symbol have made a number of commitments to current and prospective employees that ensure they adopt positive practice toward disabled people. One of these commitments is to make sure that all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for a job vacancy are invited for an interview and considered based on their abilities.
Other supported employment opportunities
Some local areas in the UK offer supported employment opportunities which aim to get people with disabilities into work. Different service providers operate supported employment schemes, including Jobcentre Plus, adult social services and the NHS.
These services work with people who have a number of employment barriers, such as physical, learning or sensory impairments. The services may offer:
- Support with applying for jobs;
- Opportunities to take part in work placements;
- One-to-one support in the workplace; and
- Ongoing long-term support and monitoring.
Contact your local Jobcentre to find out about supported employment schemes in your area.
There are a number of national charities that can offer you advice and support to find a job.
- EmployAbility is dedicated to assisting students and graduates with all disabilities, including dyslexia or long term health conditions, into employment;
- Remploy exists to improve the lives of disabled people and those with complex needs through the power of work;
- Scope supports disabled people to find jobs, work experience and volunteering opportunities; and
- Shaw Trust helps people with disabilities to experience work, find a job and live more independently.
Disclosing your disability
You have a right to keep information about your disability private and to inform potential or current employers about your condition at a time of your choosing. You may want to wait until you are invited to an interview before discussing your disability with recruiters or even postpone disclosing the details of your condition until you have received an offer of employment.
Whenever you choose to tell your employer that you are disabled, you will be protected by the Equality Act 2010. This means they must take all reasonable steps to make the necessary adjustments to accommodate you and must not discriminate against you on account of your disability.
You should bear in mind that if you choose not to let your employer know about your disability, you will not be protected by the law. This is because an employer who was unaware of your disability cannot be judged to have discriminated against you.
In the workplace
Under the Equality Act 2010, employers must make reasonable adjustments to your job and place of work once they know about your disability. This can mean changing the way in which your employment is structured, removing any physical barriers and providing you with extra support to do your work.
Access to Work
Access to Work is a government funded grant programme that can pay for practical support if you have a disability or mental health condition. The purpose of the grant is to remove any significant expenses arising from your disability that either you or your employer would otherwise be required to meet in order for you to do your job.
Access to Work can fund items such as:
- Special computer equipment;
- Transport costs; and
- A personal assistant.
You can apply by contacting Access to Work directly.
Job loss and support
If your employer fails to follow proper procedures, your dismissal could be deemed unfair and illegal.
Your employer is legally obliged to make sure that the redundancy procedures they follow do not discriminate against you as a result of your disability. This applies to both voluntary and compulsory redundancies.
In order to avoid discrimination, employers must be able to show that they can objectively justify making their decision based on criteria such as length of service, absence records, working hours and training and qualifications. In the case of disabled employees, employers must also think about any reasonable adjustments they can make to ensure you are not being placed at a disadvantage for reasons relating to your disability.
In the same way that employers cannot choose to make you redundant due to your disability, they cannot ask you to retire before you are legally required to do so.
It is illegal for your employer to dismiss you for reasons relating to your disability.
Know your rights
Under the Equality Act 2010, employees and job seekers with disabilities are legally protected against discrimination. From the initial recruitment process to promotion and pay—along with accessibility in the workplace—it is vital that you are clear on your legal rights.
For more information about your employment rights, please check out the following sites: