Warning to employers as number of disabled people in work rises

The government has warned employers that disabled people should not be considered a burden or prevented from enjoying fulfilling careers.

The latest figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that a record number of people have been supported by the Access to Work scheme, with 36,240 having received the grant in the last 12 months.

Government spending on the scheme is also up to record levels, with more than £129m spent last year – a real terms increase of £15m since 2010.

Access to Work is a government-run scheme that breaks down workplace barriers for disabled people and those with health conditions by paying for adjustments such as specialist equipment, support workers, travel to work and sign language interpreters.

People can receive almost £60,000 a year through the scheme to enable them to work, which is more than double the average annual salary and an increase of 40% in just 2 years.

The Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, said: “Having a disability or health condition must not be a barrier to enjoying a fulfilling career – and the support available means there’s no excuse for employers who refuse to be inclusive.

“Access to Work removes the obstacles facing disabled people in the workplace, helping to level the playing field and ensure businesses don’t see employing disabled people as a burden.”

Access to Work is part of a wider government drive to create more job opportunities for the disabled, with nearly 950,000 more disabled people in work compared to 5 years ago.

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd has committed to reviewing the government’s goal to see one million more disabled people in work between 2017 and 2027, with a view to making the target more ambitious.

It is against the law to discriminate against disabled people in the workplace. The protection covers most key areas including hiring and firing, salary, promotions, training and job assignments. Employers will normally be required to make reasonable adjustments to facilities and practices to accommodate an employee who is disabled.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.

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