Calls to penalise firms that ignore rules on disability

The Disability Employment Coalition (DEC) is calling for tougher penalties for organisations that discriminate against disabled people in work or seeking work.

The DEC, formed in the mid-1990s to raise awareness of employment issues affecting disabled people, is made up of several disability charities, including Mencap, Scope, Remploy and the TUC.

Last week, it published its plans for the coalition’s future direction. It states: “The DEC seeks to remove all negative distinctions regarding disabled people in the world of work and to achieve the full inclusion of disabled people.

“The DEC will achieve this by supporting both a carrot-and-stick approach encouraging change by persuasion, but seeking penalties against people and organisations that discriminate against disabled people either in work or seeking to work.”

Ray Fletcher, DEC chairman, said that although the Disability Discrimination Act was a good step forward, the government could do more.
“There is growing concern that people are still being discriminated against because of their disability,” he said. “Compensation is often not enough – we want people reinstated at work if they are discriminated against.”

Figures from the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) show that disabled people remain twice as likely to be out of work and more likely to earn less than able-bodied colleagues. Almost half of the 11,000 enquiries the DRC received last year were employment related.

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