It's time to break down employment barriers for disabled people

With nearly half of UK businesses (45 per cent) being apprehensive about hiring someone with a disability because of fears they wouldn't be able to do the job, British employers are worsening an already discriminatory employment system for the disabled.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 16th February 2017, 10:27 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th February 2017, 12:43 pm

Despite 19 per cent of the working population being disabled, disabled people are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people according to Labour Force Survey April to June 2016 by Office for National Statistics. So why are employers so hesitant in hiring?

Not-for-profit disability organisation Purple is highlighting how daunting the employment process can be for employees with disabilities who are cautious about moving roles due to barriers and stereotypes.

Purple’s recent nationwide survey of one thousand businesses, also discovered a fifth of hiring managers (22 per cent) admitted they were worried about interviewing someone with a disability in case they do or say the wrong thing. Fears from interviewers also included using the incorrect terminology (32 per cent) and not knowing whether they should help with things such as opening doors or pulling out chairs (38 per cent).

“We know changing jobs with new responsibilities and colleagues is a scary prospect for anyone but this is even more complicated for disabled workers who might find themselves facing attitudinal barriers with prospective employers,” says Purple Chief Executive and disability equality champion, Mike Adams OBE.

Disabled workers do have needs and despite societal progress, disability discrimination is one of the worst examples of inequality facing the world. Take India for example - there are 70 million people in the country with a disability however only around 100,000 are actually in employment according to Disabled World.

“There is still much more work to be done to change opinion and we need to understand and respond systematically to disabled workers’ needs,” Mike says.

Prejudice in interviews and physical barriers in the workplace still prevent many employers hiring people with disabilities and the result frequently ends with businesses losing out on qualified members of staff and as a consequence, money.