Scandal of discrimination against disabled must be tackled, says DWP committee

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More than seven million disabled people in the UK are being prevented from getting jobs or reaching their full potential by employers and recruiters who are imposing a ‘glass ceiling’, according to a Department for Work and Pensions disability steering group.

The steering group, whose members are from government departments and companies including E.ON Energy and BT, has called for other employers to rethink their attitude towards disabled people. The group is also encouraging employers to sign up to Clearkit - an online resource, developed by employers, which helps identify and remove barriers in the recruitment of disabled people (www.clearkit.co.uk ).

The aim is to sign up 1,000 organisations to the resource by October, so more businesses make their recruitment practices fairer for disabled people.

Maria Miller (pictured), minister for disabled people, said: "Almost 50% of disabled people are out of work and those that are often work far below their potential. That is why I am urging employers to look hard at their recruitment and work practices to make sure they don't miss out on the extensive talents of disabled people."

James Partridge, chair of the DWP disability employer engagement steering group, said: "We, as employers, should not judge a person's suitability for a role based on their disability. We should instead look at each individual's ability and focus on what they can bring to our organisations if we provide the support, which in most cases is just about being flexible."

And Sue LaVerne, HR director at E.ON Energy Solutions, added: "At E.ON, each of our employees - whether they are disabled or not - brings enthusiasm and dedication to the role they do, so we see no reason why our disabled employees should not have the same opportunities and career progression as their colleagues."

All of the employers who make up the steering group have pledged their commitment to providing disabled people with equal employment opportunities through initiatives such as Clearkit. Companies that sign up to Clearkit can also take part in an online assessment to make sure they do not exclude disabled people from the workplace.

If successful, the company can display the 'proud to be ClearAssured' status, which sends a message to disabled people applying for jobs that they will be given the same opportunities as non-disabled colleagues. According to the steering group, disabled people's employment has gradually increased, from 40.9% at the end of 1998 to 46.8% at the end of 2010, but much more needs to be done.

Disabled people make up 18% of the working-age population - over 7 million people. And 15% of people with learning disabilities are in paid work. When compared to non-disabled men, disabled men have a pay gap of 11% and disabled women have a pay gap of 22%. More than half (56%) of disabled people, compared with 26% of non-disabled people, report restrictions on the amount or type of work they can do.

Once in work, disabled people are less likely to progress to senior roles. Non- disabled people are three times more likely to earn over £80,000.

 

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