We want disabled people to have better experiences at work

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Independent Living in Scotland’s Susie Fitton looks at the #myworkstorycampaign, which encourages disabled people to get talking about being themselves at work

1st December 2017 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Through the campaign, we want to prompt an online conversation about openness at work and what this means for employers and employees - and what happens for disabled people when this is not achieved.

We want to move beyond questions about increasing rates of declaration and disclosure - which are singularly uninviting concepts - towards hearing people’s stories of telling their employer about impairments and asking for adjustments, or of not telling them and why.

We want to use these stories to make suggestions for tangible steps employers can take to make it easier for disabled people to be themselves at work and to get the adjustments they need to be as effective at work as possible.

We will be talking about positive and more difficult experiences of monitoring, sharing information about impairments, and seeking and getting workplace adjustments.

Susie Fitton

Susie Fitton

The Scottish Government is committed to halving the disability employment gap. In 2012, 46.3% of working age disabled people were in employment compared to 76.4% of non-disabled people. The disability employment rate has fallen to 41% in the latest Labour Force Survey whereas the general employment rates for non-disabled people have recovered to pre-recession levels (81.5%) - although more of that employment is precarious (zero-hours), self-employment and part time.

So it appears that initiatives which have tried to reduce the disability employment gap are not - or are no longer - working.

We want more disabled people to get jobs if they are able and want to work, but we also want disabled people to have better experiences at work.

Work to reduce the disability employment gap will have limited impact if we do not improve the experience of disabled people needing to discuss adjustments with employers.

The Labour Force Survey in 2012 suggested that disabled people made up 12.9% of the public sector workforce and 11% of the private sector – yet employers consistently reported lower figures than the national average. This leads employers to thinking that they employ low numbers of disabled people and there is no need for a high quality adjustment process or a plan to target appropriate pay, progression and reward strategies at disabled employees and that there is little need for a focus on retention and career development for disabled employees.

Employers may have inaccurate assumptions that disabled people cannot or do not want to work in their sector, or that there is little need to have a well efficient and transparent system for making workplace adjustments.

We want people to tell their story about being a disabled person at work, sharing information about their impairments, defining themselves as a disabled employee, what they think about the idea of disclosure and declaration and importantly what has been their experience of asking for and getting or indeed not getting workplace adjustments. This can be anything that is positive or things that have not worked well.

Susie Fitton is policy projects officer at Independent Living in Scotland. To share your story, use the hashtag #myworkstory on social media. Or if you want to share your story anonymously or are not on social media, email Rhona at [email protected] or phone 0131 281 0860.

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