Disabled people do not feel getting a job has become any easier since the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) gave extra responsibilities to employers, a leading MEP has warned.
Part III of the DDA came into force in October 2004, requiring all businesses and service providers to make reasonable changes to ensure they were accessible to the 10 million people in the UK with some form of disability.
But Richard Howitt, Labour MEP for the East of England, and president of the All-Party Disability Rights Group, told Personnel Today that physical changes to the workplace had not led to greater opportunities.
“Many disabled people think life hasn’t changed for them since the DDA,” he said. “It is easier for laws to be changed than to be implemented fully in spirit. Many companies have put braille in the lifts and installed a disabled toilet, but much of the prejudice is still there.”
Howitt said many disabled people were victims of ‘second-place syndrome’ – being told they did everything right at interview, but an ‘outstanding candidate’ just beat them to the post.
The Disability Rights Commission said there had been slight improvements in employers’ attitudes to disabled people, but there was “no room for complacency”.
The commission said only half of disabled people were in work, compared to 86% of able-bodied people.