In Britain, business has a legal duty under the Equality Act to accommodate disabled members of staff. But leaving aside these obligations, it’s fair to say that making such accommodations provides a boost to productivity. Disabled people are capable of making important contributions – and thus any company which doesn’t take steps to include them is missing out on a valuable class of assets.
In the UK, the disability pay gap is around 20%, as of 2020. Moreover, disabled people are less likely to be employed in the first place. In other words, there’s a significant moral, and financial, reason to address this problem.
So, what might we do to integrate disabled employees into a company? Let’s take a look at a few of our options.
Making physical adjustments to the workplace itself might make life easier for disabled people wishing to work there. The changes you make will depend on the nature of the disability you’re accommodating. Wheelchair ramps and lifts installed throughout the building might make it easier for wheelchair users to get around; in other cases, more specific tweaks might be applied. For best results, it’s worth consulting with the person’s doctor, or bringing in a specialist consultant to perform an audit of your working practices where disability is concerned.
In some cases, it might be necessary for work hours to be adjusted in order to accommodate the new employee. If they need to set aside time receiving specialised medical treatment, then you might arrange the timetable around that commitment.
It might be that you are unwittingly excluding certain types of employee from applying to your company. If a partially-sighted person can’t actually read the application form, then they’ll be much less inclined to fill it in. This makes large-print and braille versions of such documents that much more advisable.
The induction process will often involve a little bit of training. Sometimes, it will involve a lot. By tailoring this phase to the needs of the disabled person, you can improve their chances of getting up to speed. But you might also provide training to everyone else in the workplace, so that they can build a better and more inclusive environment that will help to get the best from everyone.
Access to the Workplace
For many disabled workers, actually getting to the workplace can represent a considerable obstacle – and one that prevents them from actually accepting a position in the first place. If you’re hiring several disabled workers, then it might make sense for you to invest in specialised vehicles that will help with the problem. You can lease these out to particular workers, in the same way that you might a company car.