The disability employment gap refers to the difference in employment rates between disabled people and the rest of the working-age population.
Research by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) shows how the United Kingdom experienced a decline in the disability employment gap in 2020. However, according to a report from Disability Action, 19% of the working-age population in the United Kingdom state they have a disability. In detail, only 53% of these are in employment.
Barriers to work
The persistent disability employment gap in the United Kingdom is mostly due to the barriers that people with disabilities face every year. As a result, we have put together a list of factors that will help you understand how to tackle this matter.
1. Barriers linked to the workplace include:
- Lack of flexibility and inclusiveness
- Autonomy the individual has over their own career
- Concerns about bullying and harassment
- Negative assumptions about the capabilities of disabled people in the workplace
- Inclusivity of the office culture
2. Barriers linked to the economy:
- Lack of availability of jobs in the local area
- Changing labour markets, such as undermining disabled people’s opportunities to benefit from growth
3. Barriers linked to the skill gap:
- Lower rate of degree-level qualifications for disabled people in comparison to the rest of the working-age population
- Only a small percentage of disabled people without qualifications being in employment
4. Barriers linked to support and information:
- Lack of tailored support to individual needs
- A high proportion of disabled people unable to use the internet compared to non-disabled people
Tackling the disability employment gap
Even though the disability employment gap is still evident in the United Kingdom, employers can tackle it in many different ways and at different stages of their employees’ careers.
We have prepared guidance to help employers enhance their practices at work:
1. Firstly, during recruitment, employers can:
- Actively look for diverse candidates
- Advertise jobs on accessible portals
- Regularly update jobs descriptions to address inadvertent barriers
- Run apprenticeships or internships
- Adapt interview format and style
- Inform candidates of how the company supports disabled employees
2. Secondly, during the employee retention stage, employers can:
- Routinely ask about adjustments during the regular working life
- Actively encourage and enable peer support
- Openly talk about disability and encourage the whole team to do the same
- Set up disability mentoring scheme
- Help employees stay in work through redeployment
3. In conclusion, during the progress stage, employers can:
- Commit to accountability by collecting and publishing disability employment data
- Use disability employment data to shape an ever more diverse workplace
- Help employees adjust between jobs, roles and managers
- Support all staff to create a more inclusive workplace through regular training
Tackling the disability employment gap can be a challenge, particularly for small businesses. Employers can seek free HR advice from ACAS if required.
Helping people with disabilities back into work
There are many ways employers can support people with disabilities back into work. These include allowing time off for medical appointments, being flexible in working patterns, or providing opportunities to work from home. Implementing such practices can be beneficial to employers in multiple ways and ensure that the whole team is happy. Therefore, being a supportive and flexible employer also has a positive impact on the personnel’s motivation and productivity.
For further information on recruiting people with disabilities, visit our FAQ page.