On 21 November 2018, the Department for Work and Pensions published a practical guide for line managers on recruiting, managing and supporting people with a disability or health condition at work. The guidance is part of the Disability Confident campaign, which was developed to support and recognise employers which are actively inclusive.  One aspect of the guidance focuses on the recruitment of disabled people.

There is strong evidence of the benefits to organisations in employing disabled workers including:

  • Improved Services – disabled workers can apply personal experience and insight to service design helping ensure services meet the needs of disabled people

  • Personal Qualities – employers recognise that managing conditions could help individuals develop qualities and skills that are valuable in the workplace

  • Job Loyalty – many disabled workers have had to overcome significant barriers to enter the job market and have developed a strong work ethic, commitment to succeed and job loyalty

  • Boost Workplace Morale – existing and prospective staff see that the organisation cares about an individual’s potential and is committed to supporting them which can improve staff morale and lead to reduced staff turnover

  • Cultural Change – demonstrating value based, effective employment models can help promote cultural change

  • Improved Public Perceptions – By being seen as an ‘inclusive’ organisation, this can lead to increased uptake of services

  • Strengthened Work Teams – more diversity within the staff team increases the overall knowledge and awareness of workforce enriching team performance

Many organisations recognise these potential benefits and are keen to recruit disabled employees but find it difficult to put this into practice.

Your aim when recruiting a new member of staff is to hire the most suited person to the job with the experience, qualities and skills for the role.  On this basis, you should ensure that your job specification, job description, application forms and interview questions focuses on this.

Some top tips to consider during the recruitment process are as follows:

  • Consider how best to attract a wide range of job applicants
  • When writing job adverts:
  1. use a font that is easy to read and large enough to read

  2. make sure that they don’t exclude any section of the community

  3. state clearly that you welcome applications from all sections of the community and that you have an equal opportunities policy

  4. include in your person specification only the skills and experience which are vital to the job

  5. do not set criteria which automatically exclude certain groups, for example stating that applicants must have a driving licence when there is no requirement for travel within the role

  6. provide the contact details of someone in your organisation who can provide further information and discuss any reasonable adjustments that the applicant may need

  7. offer alternative formats for applications, for example if the application is to be made online, provide a paper based form as an alternative

  • Make adjustments to your recruitment process – Ask applicants whether they need any particular arrangements or adjustments to assist them with the selection process. Give every job applicant the opportunity to discuss this in advance of the job interview or selection process.  You should not assume what adjustments need to be made as everyone is different.  Ask whether any alterations are required on the job application form.  Adjustments will vary depending on the person’s disability but some examples include:

  1. use premises that are fully accessible and ensure that the interview room is appropriately equipped

  2. change lighting or room layout

  3. show a visually impaired applicant to their seat

  4. allow a support worker to attend an interview with the candidate if required

  5. offer an alternative to a standard interview, for example a working interview or allow extra time or consider a trial or work experience

  6. allow applicants to complete a written test using a computer

  7. Adapting interview questions. For example, if a candidate has autism, it might be helpful for the interviewer to avoid using hypothetical or abstract questions, e.g. ‘How do you think you’ll cope with working if there are lots of interruptions?’ A better question would be ‘Think back to your last job. Can you tell us how you coped with your work when people interrupted you?’

Many adjustments can be implemented easily with little or no cost.

  • Obtain advice when necessary. If you are a line manager, speak to your HR team or occupational health team where applicable to obtain advice.  There are also a number of organisations that specialise in supporting disabled people into work that would be happy to provide guidance.  Charities often give advice to employers employing a person with a disability.  For example, the National Autistic Society provides help to employers regarding the recruitment, training and retention of autistic staff.

For further information regarding equal opportunities recruitment or advice on employee management, speak to Farleys employment law team on 0845 287 0939 or submit your enquiry through our online contact form and one of the team will get in touch with you.