International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Research shows half of employers fail to report the number of employees with disabilities

International day of persons with disabilities, disability at work

Almost half (46 per cent) of employers do not report on the number of people with disabilities they employ, a study has found.

The study, conducted by Group Risk Development (GRiD), involved 501 HR decision-makers. The research showed that, of those business that do collect information of the proportion of people with disabilities in their workforce, a third do so to inform D&I practices and 68% agree that transparency on disability reporting could help to reduce the disability employement gap by leading to more inclusive practices.

GRiD believes it’s useful for employers to understand their employee figures in order to focus on helping those with long-term health conditions and disabilities to enter and remain in their business.

Although the government are yet to make disability reporting mandatory, Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD said: “If and when reporting is made mandatory, it is likely to be for larger corporates initially, but all employers need to have an understanding of the number of people they employ with a disability or long-term health condition as the perceived wisdom is that what gets reported gets done. 

Moxham warns, however, that there is likely to be cases of underreporting due to some disabilities not being immediately obvious. “Employers may believe that they have a good grasp on how many people with a disability they employ but those with a ‘non-visible’ or ‘hidden’ disability, such as a mental health condition, diabetes, or autism, could be overlooked – and many employees don’t want to disclose their condition or don’t see themselves as having any particular need that shouldn’t be addressed by their employer wanting to ensure that everyone they employ is enabled to do the best that they can.”

According to the Equality Act 2010, employers are obliged to make reasonable adjustments to support disabled job applicants and employees so they can are not faced with any substantial disadvantages when applying for, or doing, a job and progressing in a role.

New guidance, published by Support with Employee Health and Disability service, which launched in October 2022, will be available to employers and will share essential information about supporting employees with disabilities at work.

Speaking on the fact that this support needs to be accessible all the time, Moxham says: “This isn’t the type of support that employers should switch on or off dependent on budgets or the current zeitgeist. Support for existing disabled employees and future members of staff needs to be available and accessible in all places of work, all of the time.” 

The first step of this journey is for employers to have it on their radar to start collating details regarding their employees. Any existing benefits packages should be reviewed to find out what support is missing for their staff. After this, they need to put in place any extra support that might be needed both for those applying to enter the business and for those already there.

Moxham concluded: “With the right support, employers will have access to a much wider pool of talent than perhaps they previously had and may attract a new cohort of highly motivated candidates offering the skills and knowledge that they need to benefit their business.

“Providing this support will help companies become Disability Confident and also sends a clear message to other staff, namely that the employer takes the health and wellbeing of its workforce seriously – and this has great benefits to wider business objectives as the workforce will be more reflective of the population as a whole and enable greater insight.”

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