The government is urging employers in the public sector to start preparing for the latest disability laws now, to avoid a tick box approach when the regulations come into force next December.
Anne McGuire, the minister for disabled people, warned HR professionals that the new laws required some serious consideration and could become an afterthought if planning was left too late.
She said public bodies needed to accept the new responsibilities and consider the needs of disabled people well ahead of the legal changes.
“The new duty is an important step in tackling inequality. Our public institutions need to give serious thought to the needs of disabled people. This should not be a tick box exercise but integral to organisations’ culture,” she said.
The extension of the Disability Discrimination Act will affect more than 40,000 organisations and will require public sector employers to promote equal opportunities and integrate disabled people into policy-making.
“While there has been progress towards equality for disabled people, the pace of change has been slow and the challenges are still enormous. Everyone – from the very top of the office to the shop floor – needs to ask difficult questions of ourselves and our businesses,” she added.
The duty to promote equality for disabled people comes into force on 6 December 2006 and will affect all public sector employers.