Managers blame cost of adjustments for reluctance to hire disabled workers

Managers blame cost of reasonable adjustments for not hiring disabled workers

Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of UK employers admit they would be less likely to hire someone with a disability, new data from disability charity Leonard Cheshire shows, and over two thirds (66 percent) of managers cite the cost of workplace adjustments as the barrier to employing a disabled person, up from 60 percent in 2017. Seventeen percent of disabled candidates that had applied for a job in the past five years said the employer withdrew the job offer as a result of their disability. Attitudinal barriers continually featured in the latest research. Of the employers across the UK that said they were less likely to employ someone because they were disabled, 60 percent were concerned that a disabled person wouldn’t be able to do the job. Of the disabled people in the UK who applied for a job in the last five years, 30 percent said they felt like the employer had not taken them seriously as a candidate.

Similarly, during the recruitment process, just 20 percent of these disabled applicants were made aware of workplace adjustments that could be made to support their disability, such as assistive technology or flexible working.

Neil Heslop, Chief Executive Officer at Leonard Cheshire, said: “Our research reveals a tough and unwelcoming employment landscape for disabled people despite overall employment levels climbing to record highs. Most disabled people in 2019 remain frozen out of the world of work.

“More employers need to seize the opportunity of the untapped talent of disabled people. Straightforward measures exist to support individuals to get jobs or prevent those in work from falling out of employment due to a disability or health condition. All of us must redouble our efforts to challenge outdated attitudes to disability and accelerate the positive change that enables talented individuals to gain and keep jobs.”

In some more promising news, Leonard Cheshire’s research found the proportion of employers in the UK who say they would be more likely to employ someone with a disability has almost doubled, from 11 percent in 2017 to 20 percent in 2018.

Greater numbers of employers in the UK are also reporting that in the last 18 months they have hired a disabled person, with a rise from 69 percent in 2017 to 79 percent in 2018.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “Even the smallest of changes can make a dramatic difference in helping a disabled person achieve their full potential at work. Reasonable adjustments in the workplace aren’t just the right thing to do, they are a legal requirement, and it is shocking that so many are overlooking the positive contribution disabled people can make to their organisation.

“Employers need to make a change now and we need them to monitor recruitment, retention and progression of disabled staff. Once they understand the full picture, they will be able to take action to remove the barriers faced by disabled people.”