Positive action in relation to disability

The Employment Equality Acts specifically allow measures intended to facilitate the integration of people with disabilities into employment. Below are some examples of how positive action could work in your company or organisation.

Planning and policy

Developing a policy for the employment of people with disabilities will help you to discover, understand and address the issues facing employees with disabilities. The policy should take account of and be linked to other relevant codes of practice including the Department of Justice Code of Practice on Sexual Harassment and Harassment in the Workplace. The policy should be drawn up in consultation with people with disabilities and the wider workforce and should contain the following:

  • Policy Statement: to demonstrate senior management and organisational commitment to the employment of people with disabilities.
  • Recruitment strategy: to encourage people with disabilities to apply for jobs, to ensure that the recruitment process is fair and that applications from people with disabilities are considered purely on the basis of their ability to do the job.
  • Orientation/Integration into the workplace: this can include an induction course and plans for training and career development. Special needs or requirements of people with disabilities should be discussed before placement to ensure that the workplace is safe and accessible and the supports required (if any) are already in place.
  • Progression in the workplace: this could include a focus on work experience, training, ongoing reasonable accommodation, support and encouragement for workers with disabilities.
  • Workplace Accommodation and Equipment: someone in the company/organisation should be given responsibility to learn about the kinds of assistive technology available, where to get it, how much it costs, how it is installed. They should also know enough about these issues to be able to discuss their effectiveness with an employee who might benefit from using them.
  • Safety, Health and Welfare at work: safety statements should be checked to ensure that provision is made to cater for the needs of people with disabilities in the course of their work and in emergency situations and should include evacuation procedures.
  • Disseminating the policy: the document should be circulated to management and employees and should be a focus for in-service training or induction training. It should be referred to in advertising and in the organisation’s strategic plan, annual report etc.
  • Developing an action plan for the recruitment, retention and progression of people with disabilities: an action plan should set goals for the recruitment, retention and progression of people with disabilities. Senior management should have responsibility for ensuring that the plan is adhered to and that the goals are met within a specific time frame. (See section on Goal Setting in the Disability Resource Pack).

Other sections of the Resource Pack which will be helpful in devising policy are the section on Barriers to participation of people with disabilities in the workforce, and the Accessibility Checklist, which includes not merely physical access but access issues related to attitudes, practices and procedures.

Please note that these factsheets are for information only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such.