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    Top Tips for small employers

    A guide to employing disabled people

    A report to the Disability Rights Commission

The Disability Rights Commission

    The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) is an independent body, set up by an Act of Parliament, which has the goal of creating a society where disabled people and those with long term health conditions can participate fully as equal citizens.

    We work with the voluntary sector, the business community, government and public sector agencies to achieve practical solutions

    which benefit disabled people and society as a whole. There are around 10 million people with rights under the Disability Discrimination Act in Great Britain. The legal definition of disability covers people with physical, sensory, communication and intellectual impairments, and people with mental health and other long term health conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV and schizophrenia.

    Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, disabled people have the legal right to fair treatment in employment, in education and as customers of services. Most duties of the Act are now in force. A new Disability Discrimination Act received royal assent in 2005. This will create a duty on public bodies to actively promote disability equality from December 2006 as well as closing some of the loopholes in the previous Act.

    The DRC has offices in England, Scotland and Wales and can support both those with rights and those with responsibilities under disability legislation. For further details of how we can help you please contact our Helpline contact details can be found on the

    back cover.

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    In 2007, a new Commission for Equality and Human Rights will begin its work. This body will have responsibility for the activity currently undertaken by the DRC.

About the Top Tips guide

    Welcome to the Disability Rights Commission’s Top Tips for small

    employers. This guide will give you information to help you meet your duties as an employer under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 and 2005. It will also enable you to take advantage of the considerable knowledge, skills and experience that disabled people have to offer.

    The guide has been produced in consultation with many small businesses to ensure that the content is realistic, useful and to the point.

    It is divided into sections that take you on the ‘employment journey’ –

    advertising a job, recruiting staff, retaining staff who become disabled and the end of their time with the business. It gives examples to show how small employers, even with limited resources, can meet their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and deliver their business aims. You can find details of organisations that give further help and support in the Money and Help section. This guide will give you the basics. You can find more detailed information about the DDA in the DRC’s Code of Practice on

    Employment and Occupation, available from the DRC Helpline. The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 changed the DDA in crucial ways, including in the definition as disabled, from December 2005, people with progressive conditions such as HIV, cancer or multiple sclerosis (MS) from the point of diagnosis. It also removes the requirement that a mental impairment is ‘clinically well-recognised’.

    The Act also now covers larger private clubs, transport and public functions.

    A new disability equality duty was introduced for public sector authorities. More information is available from the DRC website: www.dotheduty.org

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    Contents

    About the Top Tips guide .................................................................... 2 Contents ............................................................................................... 3 Top Ten Tips for small businesses ...................................................... 4 What does the law say about employing disabled people? ................ 6

    What’s in it for you? ........................................................................... 11 Who are disabled people? ................................................................. 12 Advertising a job ................................................................................ 15 Getting people into the job ................................................................. 18 Getting the job done .......................................................................... 21 What if one of my staff becomes disabled? ...................................... 23 What if I need to discipline or dismiss a disabled person? ............... 25

    Health and Safety at work and the Disability Discrimination Act ...... 28

    Money and Help ................................................................................. 30 Frequently Asked Questions ............................................................. 35 Case Examples .................................................................................. 37

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    Section 1

    Top Ten Tips for small businesses

    These are ten ‘basics’ that you need to remember to ensure that you meet your duties as an employer under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). The list is not exhaustive, but the more times you think about it and apply it to different situations, the more you will understand what the law is really about.

    1. Do take time to think about how the law will affect you. It is

    businesses that have given no thought to it at all, and have

    made no attempts to meet their duties, which are likely to

    end up discriminating.

    2. Do consult a disabled person about any reasonable

    adjustments they might need to enable them to do the job.

    3. Do talk with your staff about the DDA and the issues it

    raises. You will find that ‘putting your heads together’ can

    help you all to understand the issues and come up with

    solutions.

    4. Do remember that if you employ a disabled person, you are

    more likely to be able to respond to the needs of your

    disabled customers, because you will be familiar with

    some of the issues.

5. Do ask for advice you are not expected to know

    everything all at once. The DRC is here to help you. You

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    can also use other advice services like ACAS, the job

    centre, your local Business Link or Chamber of Commerce.

    6. Do treat disabled people with respect and dignity. People

    may not ‘look’ or behave in a way that you are used to but

    they should still be treated as an equal.

    7. Do remember that the law only requires you to do what is

    reasonable.

    8. Don’t make assumptions about disabled people. Many

    disabled people cannot get a job because employers

    wrongly assume that they are unable to do the job

    effectively.

    9. Don’t assume that making reasonable adjustments will

    cost lots of money most cost nothing and the average is

    ?75. Many adjustments are about doing things a little

    differently. Remember that you may be able to use Access

    to Work to pay for many adjustments.

    10. Don’t be fearful of employing disabled people. Disabled

    people want to get a job and to do it well. You want skilled

    and good quality staff and the best person for the job may

    be a disabled person. If you do your best to make your

    work practices fair, everyone will benefit.

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    Section 2

    What does the law say about employing disabled people?

    Since October 2004, it is unlawful for any employer to discriminate against a disabled person because of their disability. You cannot discriminate:

in the recruitment process

     in their terms and conditions of employment

     in chances for promotion, transfer, training or other benefits by dismissing them unfairly

     by treating them less fairly than other workers by subjecting them to harassment.

What does ‘discriminate’ mean?

    Discrimination can happen in the following ways:

a. direct discrimination

    b. failure to comply with the duty to make ‘reasonable

    adjustments’

    c. treating a disabled person less favourably

    d. harassing a disabled person

    e. victimisation.

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(a) Direct discrimination

    The Act says that an employer’s treatment of a disabled person amounts to direct discrimination if the treatment is:

a. on the grounds of his/her disability

     AND

    b. less favourable than the way in which a person not having that

    particular disability is (or would be) treated.

    Example A blind woman is not shortlisted for a job involving computers because the employer wrongly assumes that blind people cannot use them. The employer makes no attempt to look at the individual circumstances. The employer has treated the woman less favourably than other people by not shortlisting her for the job. The treatment was on the ground of the woman’s disability (because assumptions would not have been made about a non-disabled person).

    (b) Failure to comply with a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’

    Employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled job applicants or disabled staff when a provision, criteria or practice applied by the employer, or a physical feature of their premises, puts the disabled person at a substantial disadvantage. Some examples of reasonable adjustments are:

altering the person’s working hours

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     acquiring special equipment or modifying existing equipment allowing absences during working hours for rehabilitation,

    assessment or treatment

     supplying additional training

     modifying instructions or reference manuals

     providing additional supervision and/or support

     making physical adjustments to premises.

When is it reasonable to make an adjustment?

    The DDA lists a number of factors that may influence whether it is reasonable for the employer to make a particular adjustment. These are:

     how effective the adjustment is in preventing the disadvantage how practical it is

     the costs of the adjustment and the extent of any disruption the extent of the employer’s financial or other resources

     the availability to the employer of financial or other assistance the nature of the employer’s activities and the size of the

    business.

    Example If you run a small corner shop, it may not be reasonable for you to adapt the inside of the shop completely so that you can employ a wheelchair user as a counter assistant. However, many disabled people are not wheelchair users and can work in the shop. You may be able to improve the circulation space which is likely to

    benefit your customers as well.

    You will not be able to justify not making an adjustment that is considered reasonable.

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(c) Treating a disabled person less favourably

    The Act says that an employer’s treatment of a disabled person amounts to less favourable treatment if the treatment is: a. for a reason related to his or her disability

     AND

    b. less favourable than the way that he/she would treat others to

    whom that reason does not (or would not) apply.

    Example A disabled man took six weeks off work due to his spondylitis and was dismissed because of this. The employer usually dismissed anyone who had more than four weeks off. If the disabled man had not had the back condition, he would not have had the six weeks off and would not have been dismissed. He was treated less favourably (for a reason relating to his disability) than workers to whom that reason did not apply.

    (d) Harassment

Harassment is when a person:

     behaves in a way that might violate the disabled person’s

    dignity

     OR

     creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading or humiliating

    environment for a disabled person AND

     this behaviour is because of that person’s disability.

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    (e) Victimisation

    It is unlawful to victimise people because of their disability. It is also unlawful to victimise a person who has instigated or taken part in legal proceedings under the Act or who has alleged in good faith that someone else could be in breach of the Act.

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