Lloyds TSB puts disabled graduates on fast stream

Equality: a report on the fourth
anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act.

Lloyds TSB is setting up a
fast-track scheme for disabled graduates as part of its commitment to the
Disability Rights Commission’s first campaign.

The bank is the first big employer
to sign up to the commission’s Actions Speak Louder Than Words campaign. It
will introduce six action plans over the next 18 months. These include the
appointment of its director of the branch network, John Spence, as a disability
champion.

Others will involve awareness
training for staff, a career progression programme for disabled employees,
increased recruitment of those with a disability and the fast-track scheme.

The action plans are the result of
a survey of all the bank’s disabled employees. They were invited to give their
opinions of what working life was like for staff within the company.

Liz Sayce, director of
communications and change at the commission, said she hoped other companies
would follow Lloyds TSB’s lead. She said, “Lloyds TSB’s activities prove that
good practice and good business sense can go hand in hand.

“They have made tremendous efforts
to identify and resolve problems that face their disabled staff and have
actively sought advice from disabled people on the best way to do this.
Hopefully other businesses will be encouraged to follow their example.”

The TUC has joined the campaign by
working with the Royal National Institute for Deaf People to challenge commonly
held perceptions of disability.

Meanwhile, bus company Arriva will
focus on helping disabled people use public transport safely, although
awareness training for drivers will also be given.

www.drc-gb.org

By Helen Rowe

A brief history of the
Disability Discrimination Act

1995                            The
then minister for Disabled People William Hague outlined the disability rights
legislation in Parliament in response to disabled rights lobby

2 December 1996        The Disability Discrimination Act came
into force

July 1998                     The Government published a White Paper setting
out proposals and functions of the Disability Rights Commission

March 1999                 The Disability Rights Commission Bill was introduced
into the House of Commons

April 2000                    The Disability Rights Commission was launched by
minister for disabled people Margaret Hodge

June 2000                    The
commission won its first case, when it supported a former employee of the
London Borough of Lambeth, who appealed against a tribunal decision which ruled
stress at work was not a disability. The employee claimed he was unfairly
dismissed from his job in the finance department

December 2000           Disability Rights Commission launches
its first major campaign, Actions Speak Louder than Words

Briefing

What is
the Disability Discrimination Act 1995?

The
Disability Discrimination Act was enacted on 2 December 1996. The parts of the
Act which cover employment forbid direct discrimination against disabled
individuals unless it can be justified for “relevant and substantial reasons”.
The Act covers recruitment, promotion and unfair dismissal of staff and applies
to all employers with more than 15 staff with the exception of the police,
firefighters, prison officers and the army.

 

What do
employers have to do to avoid falling foul of the act?

Employers
are considered to have discriminated against disabled people if they treat them
less favourably than others for reasons to do with their disability, unless
they can show that this discrimination is reasonable. Employers must also show
they have made reasonable adjustments to the premises or the employee’s method
of working unless these adjustments are unreasonable, for example due to cost.
There is no minimum period of employment required before employees are eligible
to make a claim.

 

How is
disability defined in the Act?

In the Act
disability is defined as “a physical or mental impairment which has a
substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out
normal day-to-day activities”. Physical impairments cover conditions such as
asthma, arthritis and migraine, which are not necessarily visible, and mental
impairments are those which are clinically recognised, including clinical
depression. The long-term effect is defined as lasting, or likely to last, more
than a year.

 

How
much do employers have to pay out in compensation?

Although
the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal is capped at £50,000 there
is no limit on awards under the DDA. Applicants can also receive unlimited
compensation for injury to feelings. In practice, average tribunal pay-outs in
disability cases have been £9,981 so far, although there have been relatively
few awards.

 

What
sort of cases have been brought against employers?

Cases have
ranged from ones concerning, for example, staff who had been dismissed after
long periods of sick leave, and employees who had been dismissed for health and
safety reasons but who could have been offered a job in a less hazardous part
of the workplace. However, so far case law has not provided definitive answers
to the many grey areas in the law.

Comments are closed.