As a disabled person, it is very important to know your rights. When you know and fully understand your rights, you will be able to know when you are being treated unfairly and you will be able to speak up about this.
At Careers with Disabilities, we believe that everyone knowing and understanding what rights disabled people have would make the world of employment a much better and safer environment for everyone involved.
As such, we have created this small guide with the main points you need to know about your rights as a disabled person in the U.K. All of this information comes from the legally-enforceable Equality Act of 2010 which outlines the laws against discrimination and inequality in the U.K. Here, we will only talk about the aspects of the Equality Act that refer to employment and recruitment, these include:
- application forms
- interview arrangements
- job offers
- terms of employment, including pay
- promotion, transfer and training opportunities
- dismissal or redundancy
- discipline and grievances.
Your Rights in Applying To Jobs
You have rights surrounding how you can be treated in the application and interviewing process. Even before you begin working somewhere officially, you cannot be discriminated against.
Only limited questions can be asked about your health and disability, and only if they are relevant. You can only be asked questions about your disability if:
- It is to decide whether you can carry out certain essential tasks
- To decide whether you can take part in an interview or if you need reasonable adjustments to do so
- It is for the purposes of equal monitoring
- It is for positive discrimination purposes and the company would like to employ more disabled people
- It is essential information for national security checks
You do not need to answer any questions that don’t fit within these categories. It might also be worth considering why the company is asking these questions in the first place.
Disability and/or health conditions should not be used as grounds for refusing your application unless it is a matter of safety or not being able to perform essential tasks.
If the question appears on an application form, you can ask why this information is being requested and then decide whether you would like to answer it or not.
Access To Work
The Access To Work government programme supports disabled people whether they are working, self-employed or looking for work. They can provide support which is beyond accessible reasonable adjustments that an employer is legally obliged to provide.
This can include support with job interviews and application processes. You can get financial support for interviews if you need extra support to complete your interview, including if you are deaf or hard of hearing and need a BSL or interpreter, or if you have any condition or learning difficulty that means you need communication support.
Job Offers and Payment
As we mentioned, a job offer cannot depend on your disability. Similarly, your disability cannot determine the pay or salary that you are offered.
This counts as direct disability discrimination and applies only when your employer is aware that you are disabled. Take a look at our guide on disclosing a disability to an employer for more support and guidance.
Promotion, Transfer and Training
If your employer is aware of your disability, they cannot make any decision about your position based on the fact that you are disabled. This means that they cannot block a promotion or plan a transfer based on your disability. They cannot, also, fail to provide adequate training because of your disability.
These actions can arise either intentionally in very direct ways, or in more discreet ways.
Your employer might not tell you that you cannot have training but they might hold mandatory training in an inaccessible venue and make no alternative arrangements for you. Your employer might not openly say that they have blocked your promotion, but they might implement a points system that bases promotions on things like full attendance, which would be discriminatory towards people with disabilities and long-term health conditions.
There are lots of ways in which discrimination happens and so it is important to be aware of what counts as discrimination so you can bring issues to light.
Your Rights in Dismissal and Disciplinary Procedures
It is unlawful discrimination if the motivation for ending your employment is your disability or if the way your termination process is handled disadvantages you as a Disabled employee.
Similarly, you cannot be made redundant because you are disabled. And this applies to issues such as attendance being used as a factor in deciding redundancies. This can often be a ploy to terminate disabled people’s employment and is illegal discrimination.
It is not the case that you cannot be terminated or made redundant if you are a disabled person, but neither of these things can happen on the basis of the fact that you are disabled or on the fact that certain things have happened because you are disabled.
What To Do If You Have Been Treated Unfairly
If you believe that you have been discriminated against, harassed, or treated unfairly, it is important that you contact the Equality Advisory Support Service. They can help you follow the correct procedure when something unfair has incurred.
You can also check out our own guide on how to find support in your local area for disabled people.
The more support you can get, the better.