Disabled workers must not be unfairly affected by the recession, the TUC has warned at its annual disability conference.
The union said research from previous recessions has shown disabled workers faced unfair selection for redundancy, and it was vital they were kept in work during the current downturn.
Frances O’Grady, deputy general secretary, said: “By this time next year, it is likely that unemployment will have surged past the three million mark. As in previous recessions it will be disabled workers who will be disproportionately affected: by discrimination during redundancy selection, based perhaps on absence records; and by an even greater reluctance on the part of employers to meet their obligations towards disabled staff.”
O’Grady added that if action was not taken now, the UK would “face a reversal of the slow, painful progress we have made over the past decade in increasing the employment rate among disabled people”.
She said: “The TUC is absolutely determined that disabled workers will not be victimised by welfare reform; that they should not suffer unfairly in this recession; and that they must not be disadvantaged by the business lobby’s misplaced belief that equality is somehow a luxury we can no longer afford.”
In January a government white paper announced public sector employers would be set targets requiring them to recruit more people with mental and learning disabilities.