Far too few disabled people who want to work are being recruited by employers, and too many disabled staff – including workers who become disabled after being injured at work – are losing their jobs, the TUC has complained.
The union body has outlined a three-point plan on how more disabled people can be helped to keep their jobs or to find suitable employment.
A combination of preventative safety measures, encouraging employers to make more of an effort to hold on to disabled staff and specialist employment advice to disabled jobseekers would make a real difference to the employment rate of disabled individuals, it argued.
As well as working with employers to improve health and safety and preventing debilitating injuries from occurring in the first place, the government should be more proactive in reminding employers that under the Disability Discrimination Act they can be taken to court and fined for treating disabled employees or job applicants unfairly, it advised.
More could be done to publicise the government’s Access to Work scheme, which gives financial help to employers who face extra costs because they employ disabled workers, it added.
And every employer should also have to draw up a return-to-work plan for every member of staff temporarily forced to leave their job through ill health or injury, it recommended.
Ministers should also introduce “disability leave” to give employees the right to take time off while they are undergoing rehabilitation treatment or while changes are being made to their workplace to enable them to continue in their jobs, the TUC said.