In the year of the Paralympics, all eyes once again fall on the ability of disabled sportsmen and women, rather than their disabilities.
The rights of disabled employees have been strengthened in recent years with the introduction of the Equality Act 2010 and employers are generally no longer permitted to ask job candidates about their health or any disabilities they may have before the job has been offered to them. This will force employers
to consider reasonable adjustments to a particular role, once the job has been accepted by the disabled individual, in order to remove any barriers the employee may face in doing the job, so that they may access and progress in employment.
Reasonable adjustments need not be as onerous as some employers may believe and small changes can lead to a successful employment experience from both the employee’s and the employer’s point of view. The duty to make reasonable adjustments does not always mean purchasing expensive computer equipment or involving a support worker. Some will cost no money at all, or just a nominal amount. It can simply mean adjusting the employee’s start and finish times to enable them to travel during non-peak times; relocating furniture or machines; lowering door handles; modifying disciplinary procedures; or adjusting the criteria normally applies in order for employees to receive a bonus etc. Disabled employees are generally aware of physical adjustments that they will be required so employer and employee can work together to achieve the necessary changes.
However let us for one minute focus on what disabled workers are able to achieve, despite their disability these individuals are able to perform the job role just as well as able-bodied employees, however we must be careful not to patronise disabled employees, apart from workplace adjustments they should be treated equally, concentrate on the great work they perform. Hold regular meetings with them to make sure they are happy with any workplace adjustments you have introduced. Finally remember do not concentrate on what they are unable to do instead focus on the job they have been employed to do and the qualities they can bring to the workplace.