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Education and Employment

New Survey highlights UK businesses can do more to hire disabled people

Two business people in the office.

A new survey of UK Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) by a solicitor firm, Bolt Burdon Kemp, has found that found many don’t understand how to cater for employees with disabilities. The survey found that 93% of those surveyed would like more information and training about disability employment law.

Government figures show there are 930,000 more disabled people in work today than five years ago, as the rate of employment for disabled people outstripped non-disabled people. The UK government has ambitious plans to get a million disabled people into work over the next ten years.

While 45% of SMEs surveyed say they employ someone with a substantial or long-term disability, only 4% of SMEs employ someone with a brain injury. This breaks down into 10.5% of companies in the arts and culture industry, 9% of companies in IT & Telecoms and 6% of companies in Architecture, Engineering and Building.

And, with the government’s Access to Work scheme (introduced back in 1994) thus far not specify brain injuries as an individual disability (although brain injuries like cerebral palsy and epilepsy arespecified), it’s difficult to say how many people with brain injuries currently make up the disability workforce.

What is encouraging, however, is what happens at the interview stage. While nearly half of disabled people have worried about sharing information about their impairment or condition with their employer, the majority of SMEs we surveyed stated that they would only ask candidates about their mental or physical disability if it were relevant to the role. Half of SMEs say they would not ask about disabilities at all, suggesting equal opportunity regardless of disability.

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