The Government have announced that they will be boosting the number of specialist advisers who aid disabled job-seekers to secure and stay in work. 

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have stated that there will be an increase to the number of specialist job advisers, with an additional 315 adviser roles to be added to job-centres by May 2021.

Once the process is fully complete, it is expected there will be over 1000 (1,115) specialist advisers to support disabled candidates in their job search.

These Disability Employment Advisers offer advice regarding job search, training, new skills and Government schemes to people with disabilities.

The recruitment drive builds on the 13,500 new Work Coaches taken on by the department over the past 9 months.

Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, said:

We are committed to seeing 1 million more disabled people in work by 2027 and as we recover from the pandemic we are redoubling our efforts to boost the support for disabled job-seekers.

I know this is a challenging time, but we will be building on the record disability employment we have seen by protecting, supporting and creating jobs for disabled people.

This comes after recent research found that redundancy rates have been almost two-thirds (62 per cent) higher for disabled workers than their non-disabled colleagues during the pandemic.

In addition to this, employees with disabilities are also disproportionately less likely to return to work again once they have left the workforce. Data revealed that between 2007 and 2020, only 7.6 per cent of disabled people who were out of work, but had previously had a job, returned to employment in the next three months. This is four times less than the number of non-disabled people in the same position (26.8 per cent).

According to a Unison survey,  half of disabled workers said they faced barriers to doing their job that could be removed through adjustments. However, over two-thirds had some or all of these adjustments refused whilst almost a quarter (23 per cent) had to wait a year or more to receive the adjustments they needed.

Writing for HRreview, Ewan Carr, Associate and Employment Specialist at Shakespeare Martineau, said:

A ‘reasonable adjustment’ is a change that is made by an employer to reduce or remove the impact of an employee’s condition, which may class as a disability under the Equality Act 2010 (EqA). There is a duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments if the employee is classed as disabled under the EqA and is placed at a ‘substantial disadvantage’ in comparison with persons who are not disabled.

Reasonable adjustments can be made to the physical characteristics of the workplace itself, to the way a provision, criterion and practice is applied by the employer, or through the introduction of an aid, which can help the employee during the working day.

Mr. Carr warned that, through failing to implement reasonable adjustments, employers could be setting themselves up to receive discrimination claims:

To avoid such claims, employers must give careful thought to several factors when deciding whether an adjustment is reasonable. For example, the extent to which the adjustment will remove the disadvantage, how practicable the adjustment is, financial and other costs involved, the disruption to the employer and the workforce, the finances and resources available, and the nature of the employee’s activities.

If after considering each of these aspects the adjustment appears to be reasonable, then the employer should do what they can to implement it. If not, the employer should explain their reasoning to the employee and discuss alternative options, if there are any that are appropriate.