Investigation launched into true reasons for the disability employment gap

Disabled at work web

Independent Living in Scotland is looking for disabled workers to share their experiences to help address inequality in Scotland's workplaces 

1st December 2017 by Gareth Jones 1 Comment

Disabled people are to feed into an investigation into why they aren't equally represented in Scotland's workplaces.

Independent Living in Scotland is launching an online campaign, #myworkstory, which aims to get disabled people talking about employment.

The initiative is being unveiled to tie in with International Day of Disabled Persons 2017, which takes place on Sunday 3 December.

The project, backed by Inclusion Scotland, is aimed at examining why there is a disability employment gap, with 46.3% of working age disabled people in employment in 2012 compared to 76.4% of non-disabled people.

“Disabled people are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people,” said policy project officer Susie Fitton.

“The Scottish Government have committed to halving the disability employment gap but this will only be possible if people feel comfortable talking about their impairments at work and identifying as disabled employees.

“We want to start an online conversation about what employers can do to make it easier for their staff to talk about their impairments and any workplace adjustments they might need to do their job.”

The experiences shared by people with disabilities through #myworkstory will inform the Scottish Government what steps employers can take to make it easier for disabled people to work and to call for the adjustments they need to be as effective in their job as possible.

“We are interested to know about what disabled people think can be done about addressing the gap,” Fitton continued.

“Statistics would suggest that the initiatives that have been tried didn’t work, or are no longer working, and we’d like to see what people think about this.

“We also want to know about the experiences disabled people have as well.

“We want to have an open conversation on what helps disabled workers feel at ease in the workplace, and what it means for them when they do not feel comfortable.”

This week, charity Sense called for further action by the UK government to ensure it meets it target of getting one million disabled people into work over the next decade.

"We want ambition to be matched by action that tackles barriers to work," said deputy chief executive Richard Kramer.

"Disabled people want to work, but there are barriers that prevent them from finding work and progressing in employment. These include negative attitudes from employers and recruitment agencies, inaccessible workplaces and inflexible working practices."

The information will be collated and analysed ahead of Inclusion Scotland’s annual Disabled People’s Summit, which will examine employability issues that affect disabled people.

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.

For years I was worried about being open...

Susanna has battled mental health issues for much of her adult life, and has only recently felt able to talk honestly about her condition.

“I’ve had a mental health problem since my early twenties. For years I was worried about being open about it on job application forms, in interviews or with colleagues at work. I didn’t want people to think I wasn’t up to the job, that I couldn’t handle stressful situations or that they couldn’t trust my judgement. 

“It’s taken me almost 20 years to be open about it at work and to identify as a disabled person. I’ve had some mixed experiences, in one job I felt that my line manager was really uncomfortable talking about it, I was never offered any adjustments even though some flexibility with work hours would have been really beneficial and I hated asking for time off to go to medical appointments. But, by in large being open has actually helped my mental health and made me feel more comfortable at work.

“Employers need to understand that it can be a very emotionally charged experience to share information about impairments, it’s not just ticking a box or asking for an adjustment, you really have to trust that it’s not going to affect your relationships at work and how people view your performance.”



1st December 2017 by Bill Scott

The gap has actually widened in Scotland. In 2017 just 43% of disabled people are in employment compared to 81% of non-disabled people. Would we tolerate such a difference if it involved groups discriminated against on the basis of their gender, sexuality or race? So why is there no Scottish Government Task Force charged with tackling this issue?