Guidance on Employing People with Disabilities
Employers must always be careful to ensure that prospective employees and current employees alike are treated fairly.
Employers must provide job adverts in alternative formats if required by a disabled applicant, so long as it is reasonable. In addition, application forms can include a question asking whether the applicant is disabled and whether adjustments are required. It is possible to ask prospective employees to complete a health questionnaire as supplemental to the application form, and this is common when a job involves driving or exposure to chemicals. Detail depends on the nature of the job and sort of medical conditions. Only information that really needs to be known should be obtained.
It should be remembered that Equality provisions restrict use of health questionnaires prior to offer of employment. An employer can only ask to find out whether reasonable adjustments are required for recruitment process, whether an applicant can carry out essential job element, to monitor diversity, to take positive action in respect of disabled people, or if having a disability is a requirement.
If an employer knows about a disability and it puts the applicant at a disadvantage that means they’re not selected for interview, they should think whether a reasonable adjustment would mean they were selected for interview. If an employer doesn’t know what a reasonable adjustment would be, the employer should invite the employee to interview in order to find out because that’s how employers seek additional information on applicants.
If an employer knows about a disability, they must make reasonable adjustments. If an employer doesn’t know, it must attempt to make adjustments as soon as they find out. Reasonable adjustments include: rearranging time of interview, ensuring interviewer faces applicant, is well lit and prepared to repeat questions for hearing impaired people or there is a hearing loop, paying expenses to meet special requirements, like support work or taxi, or allowing people with learning impairments to bring someone to help them. An employer can ask about disability in interview if in relation to their ability to do the job after reasonable adjustments, or to figure out reasonable adjustments.
Employers shouldn’t have medical checks just for disabled applicants, unless it’s justified because the disability is relevant to the job, that is, a job requiring lifting and carrying when those abilities are affected by the disability. Medical reports concerning specific conditions should be obtained from the most appropriate authority. The employer must discuss reasonable adjustments if medicals find problems. Reasonable adjustments to terms must be considered for disabled employees, such as changing working hours to avoid rush hour on public transport if that’s a problem.
Employers should also bear in mind Induction for disabled employees. Advice for employers on providing for disabled employees (access, equipment, support) is available from Disability Employment Advisers, and financial assistance may be available.
Post-employment, absence on medical grounds, including as a result of disability, should be treated sympathetically and as a capability issue (not disciplinary), and employers should remember statutory obligations to not treat disabled employees less favourably and to make reasonable adjustments.
Factors when determining what a reasonable adjustment are; effectiveness, practicability, financial and other costs (taking into account the employer’s resources and any aid available), extent of any disruption, value of the worker’s experience and expertise, nature of employer’s activities, and size of undertaking.
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