Almost Half of Disabled People Worry About Disclosing Their Condition At Work

By Benjamin Lowrie, Digital Producer 6 Nov 2017

Almost half of disabled people in the UK worry about telling their employers of their condition, according to new research.

Scope, the charity behind the report, also found that 48 percent of disabled people felt they were unaware of their specific rights as an employee, as well as one in four saying they felt they’d missed out on a job offer because of their disability.

Chief executive Mark Atkinson said the findings should be a “wake-up call” for businesses as to the challenges disabled workers face every day.

He added: “We need to drastically transform workplace culture so all employees are confident requesting support and can discuss their impairment or condition on their own terms.”

So What’s The Law?

The law on disability discrimination in the workplace is pretty clear, but it’s trickier in practice. Disability is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, meaning any instance of discriminatory or unfair behaviour is illegal under UK law.

However, as Scope’s findings show, the Act doesn’t guarantee that disabled people won’t experience discrimination. They report one woman’s story, who unsuccessfully applied for more than 100 jobs before withholding information about her disability led to a sudden rush of interviews.

In fact, critics of this act suggest there is little responsibility at the top of hiring processes to actually act on the letter of the law – leaving open the possibility of discrimination against disabled people at the employers’ discretion.

What Do Human Rights Have To Do With It?

Image Credit: RightsInfo

There are also protections within human rights legislation, which may prove a more robust solution to the issue, especially in conjunction with the Equality Act.

The Human Rights Act 1998 puts the Human Rights Convention into effect under UK law. Anyone who believes these rights have been infringed can take their case to court.

Under Article 14, any other rights cannot be denied on the grounds of characteristics such as race, sexual orientation, or disability. It can only be relied on in the context of infringement of another right – so for example, having your workers’ rights infringed as a result of discrimination based on a characteristic would be enough to constitute a complaint.

While none of these rights can guarantee to stop discrimination from happening, knowing how you’re protected if things go wrong is a vital shield for all of us.

Featured Image: Pexels / Tim Gouw