An East Croydon-based firm of employment law specialists is launching a campaign to stamp out disability discrimination in the workplace.
Martin Searle Solicitors have found that the pandemic and numerous lockdowns have resulted in a notable increase in people seeking advice about disability discrimination at work. This increase has been widespread among workers struggling with mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.
Their Disability Matters campaign is being launched to coincide with World Mental Health Day on October 10.
Last year, the Office of National Statistics reported that the employment rate among disabled people was only 53 per cent, compared to 81 per cent for the general population. However, where people had mental health issues, this employment rate decreased to 33 per cent and reduced to just 21 per cent for people with autism.
In April 2021, the ONS found that during the coronavirus pandemic, the proportion of disabled people who are in employment fell, with the proportion of disabled people who are either unemployed or economically inactive rising from 45.9 per cent to 47.7 per cent. The comparative rate for people who are not disabled is 18.9 per cent, meaning that the disability employment gap has risen to 28.8 percentage points.
The ONS also reported that a higher proportion of disabled employees have been made redundant. Between July and November 2020, 21.1 per thousand disabled employees were made redundant, compared to 13 per thousand for employees without disabilities.
Fiona Martin, the head of employment law at Martin Searle Solicitors, said, “We have been contacted by a large number of employees during the pandemic who believe they have been unfairly selected for redundancy because of their disability.
“We have also seen many cases where employers fail to understand who might be considered ‘disabled’ as defined by the Equality Act and their ongoing duty to consider making reasonable adjustments. This is particularly the case where mental health impairments are concerned.”
Martin Searle Solicitors have produced a series of free factsheets, case studies and FAQs for employers and employees covering basic disability rights, as well as avoiding disability discrimination in the workplace on their website.
In partnership with Community Works, Martin Searle Solicitors will be running a virtual seminar for charities and non-profit organisations on “Managing Ill Health and Disability – Best Practice for Employers” from 10.30am on Wednesday October 20. You can book a place on the webinar by clicking here.
Martin Searle Solicitors are also offering employers and employees free initial 30-minute confidential advice regarding disability rights and employer disability duties.
Their legal helpline will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout October from 3.30pm to 5.30pm on 01273 609911. You can email to book an appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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