Too many employers are ignorant of the provisions in the Disability Discrimination Act as it approaches its fourth anniversary next month, claims the Institute of Employment Rights.
IES director Carolyn Jones has put forward 11 recommendations for reform of the Act as she says the report highlights failings in the Act. These include calling for the details of any disability claims to be reported to shareholders in company annual reports.
“In the light of our research into the case law surrounding the operation of the Act to date, we believe a number of important reforms are needed to make the Act fully effective,” said Jones.
The report also shows that this ignorance is also preventing disabled people from taking action against employers who discriminate against them.
More than 8.5 million people in the UK are disabled, representing 14 per cent of the adult population and nearly a fifth of the working age population. But only about one in 10 disabled people is in employment.
In the four years since the Disability Discrimination Act was launched, only 12 per cent of claims lodged concerned recruitment, in sharp contrast to the 26 per cent brought following the introduction of the Sex Discrimination Act and 35 per cent concerning race discrimination.
According to the employment rights think-tank the Institute of Employment Rights, most of the first 2,500 cases lodged under the Act were begun by someone other than the applicant. Usually it was the trade union that began the process.
The IEA’s report notes that 85 per cent of applicants had not heard of the Act and 15 per cent were not aware theirs was a possible case under the Act.
On 2 December the Act will have been in force for four years. The following day, 3 December, has been designated the European Day of Disabled People.
By Kathy Watson