The employment law team at the Croydon-based legal firm of Martin Searle Solicitors’is about to stage Disability Matters, their annual campaign to work to stamp out disability discrimination in the workplace.
The campaign coincides with World Mental Health Day on October 10.
The team has found that after the covid lockdowns there has been a notable increase in people seeking employment law advice about disability discrimination at work. This increase is largely due to workers who are struggling with mental health disabilities such as depression and anxiety.
The 2022 Labour Force Survey found that 22per cent of the working age population were classed as disabled, and yet people with disabilities remain under-represented among the workforce.
The February 2022 update from the Office of National Statistics found that the employment rate among disabled people was only 53.3per cent, compared to 81.6per cent for the general population.
However, where people had mental health issues, this figure decreased to 30per cent, and reduced to just 29per cent for people with Autism.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the disability employment gap, which shows the difference between the employment rates of disabled and non-disabled people, widened to 28.4per cent.
Despite disability discrimination in the workplace being outlawed by the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act, and updated by the 2010 Equality Act, a 2020 study carried out by Citizens Advice found that disabled people were twice as likely to face redundancy at work.
The ONS also found that disabled people earn 13.8per cent less on average than non-disabled people – almost £2 less per hour.
Fiona Martin, the head of employment law at Martin Searle Solicitors, said: “Enquiries about disability discrimination in the workplace have increased since the pandemic. We have been contacted by a large number of employees 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 has 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. These are available on their website.
Martin Searle Solicitors are also offering employers and employees a free 30-minute confidential telephone advice session regarding disability rights and employers’ duties and responsibilities under disability discrimination legislation. 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 email@example.com.
They will be running a free virtual seminar for advisers representing employees and workers on Disability Discrimination in the Workplace. The seminar takes place on Thursday October 13, from 12pm – 1pm. For more information and to book, see here.
They will also be running a virtual seminar for charities and non-profit organisations in partnership with Community Works on “Managing Ill Health and Disability – Best Practice for Employers” on Thursday October 20 from 9.30am – 11.00pm, which you can book here.
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