Disability and Work

6 Facts You Might Not Know About Disability and Work. The Papworth Trust have been producing a report, annually, for the past 5 years which contains statistics around disability and work.  There are some interesting stats around disability and work. Occupational therapy large
  1. Over 50% of working age people who are out of work (either unemployed or economically inactive) are disabled people.
  2. Disabled people are more likely to be unemployed than non-disabled people. In March 2013, the unemployment rate for disabled people stood at 12%, compared to 7.6% of non-disabled people.
  3. 57% of adults with impairments experience barriers to employment (in the type or amount of paid work they do), compared with 26% of adults without impairments.
  4. The 2 most commonly stated enablers for employment among adults with impairments are flexible hours/days and tax credits.
  5. The 2 most common barriers to work among adults with impairments are a lack of job opportunities (43%) and difficulty with transport (29%).
  6. 1 in 6 people who become disabled while in work lose their job during the first year after becoming disabled.

Flexible working and disability

8 Reasons why Flexible Working for people with disabilities is good for the Employer as well as the Employee.

The Papworth Trust report ‘Disability in the United Kingdom 2013, Fact and Figures’ reports that one of the most commonly stated enablers for employment among adults with impairments is flexible working hours/days.

blog image3Being creative is important when considering flexible hours. Below are some examples which could act as prompts for line managers and employees exploring this issue together

  • Take a flexible approach to start/finish times and/or shift patterns
  • Allow use of paid or unpaid leave for medical appointments
  • Phase the return to work, e.g. offering temporary part-time hours
  • Equal amount of break time, but in shorter, more frequent chunks
  • Allow someone to arrange their annual leave so that is spaced regularly throughout the year
  • Allow the possibility to work from home at times
  • Temporary reallocation of some tasks often improve output where its needed
  1. Making these adjustments could help avoid unplanned absences and enable you to manage and cover planned absences from the work place.
  2. These adjustments could reduce sickness absence time taken by the employee and will improve punctuality issues.
  3. Flexible working patterns allows people to work when they accomplish most, feel freshest, and are more able to work.
  4. These adjustments can be used as part of the employee’s recovery so need not be permanent.
  5. Flexible working times will give the employee an increased feeling of personal control over schedule and work environment and in turn a feeling of being able to manage their condition.
  6. Flexible hours of work are likely to reduce employee burnout due to overload.
  7. A flexible approach could allow the employer to respond to peaks and troughs in work demands as they occur.
  8. Being responsive and flexible improves morale and productivity and will also improve recruitment and retention

Reasonable adjustments for hearing impairment

Reasonable adjustments for people with hearing impairments.

The overall aim of making reasonable adjustments for disabled workers with hearing impairments should be, as far as possible, to remove or reduce any disadvantage faced by a disabled worker.  In cases of ‘reasonable adjustment’ it is acceptable to treat disabled people better or ‘more favourably’ than non-disabled people and sometimes this may be part of the solution.

Many people who are deaf or have a hearing loss will be considered disabled under The Equality Act 2010 in Great Britain and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland so you should be prepared to make some adjustments for them

Here are 3 really straight forward adjustments for you to consider for your workplace

1: Changing a provision.

If the employee with hearing loss is required to sit facing away from their colleagues they will not know when their colleagues are talking to them.

It would therefore be reasonable to allow them to sit where they are able to see their colleagues and therefore feel more included in the team. If it is a requirement for all team members to answer the telephone, invest in some specialist equipment or allow the person with hearing loss to respond to the written correspondence instead.

2: Adjusting physical features.

As well as changing existing provisions, e.g. the layout of an office, you may want to adjust other physical features. For example, hold meetings in locations that have less background noise.

Book a private meeting room rather than holding meetings in crowded communal areas with background noises such as telephones ringing, or conversations taking place.

3:Providing equipment.

Providing equipment such as an induction loop and / or amplified or hearing aid compatible telephones could help employees who are deaf or have a hearing loss perform the same tasks as people without hearing impairment.

For more information and really good advice about hearing loss visit ‘Action on hearing loss’



What the heck is “wellbeing”?

Wellbeing – you hear a lot about it these days, from the “economic wellbeing” of the nation to our own “mental wellbeing”.  It’s one of those words like “holistic” that we are pretty sure we know what it means, but rather hope nobody asks us to explain it.  In this article we look at what “wellbeing at work” is all about.

The dictionary definition for wellbeing is “a state of being comfortable, healthy or happy”.   The Social Audit Network says: “You can think of someone as having high well-being if they function well, have positive feelings day-to-day and overall and think their lives are going well; we call this ‘flourishing’.”    By that definition most of us might enjoy wellbeing about once a week.

So far so good, but what does it mean in the work place?  The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development says wellbeing is about: “Creating an environment to promote a state of contentment which allows an employee to flourish and achieve their full potential for the benefit of themselves and their organisation.

The definition might sound like motherhood and apple pie, but the origins of the wellbeing agenda in the UK can be traced back to the early 2000s and the convergence of three very real, hard-headed public policy issues:

  1. Unsustainable numbers of people on Incapacity/Sickness Benefit.
  2. Increasing costs to business and, more acutely, the public sector, of sickness absence and an increasing proportion sickness due to mental health problems.
  3. The demographic implications of an ageing population that are going to require people to work longer into their old age.

In short, keeping people healthy and at work was becoming a critical issue for the wellbeing of the nation.  

 It also became clear that achieving the objective of keeping people at work and productive would involve action across a wider range of issues than just pay, conditions and traditional health and safety.   The wellbeing movement recognised that employees are more likely to stay at work and be more productive if they are:

  • physically and mentally well;
  • content and happy about their work;
  • engaged and motivated;
  • continuously learning and developing;
  • feeling good about the organisation they work for.

Thus, wellbeing is a strategic and wide-ranging programme focused on people’s wellness at work.  It involves organisations working across a number of areas including:

Physical health
Promoting exercise, e.g. cycle to work schemes and subsidised gym membership, promoting healthy eating, improving the working environment and encouraging staff to stop smoking.

Mental health
Managing stress, training in mental health, mindfulness training, access to counseling and encouraging good work life balance.

Personal Development
Mentoring, development plans, career breaks, training accounts.

Company culture
Developing a company culture that employees feel good about and engaged with, e.g.  through strong values and ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility, diversity, equality and anti-bullying policies.

Organisation of work
Flexible working, giving employees greater autonomy, management of change.

The key measures of measures of success for wellbeing programmes are through metrics such as sickness absence days, staff turnover, the results of staff surveys and improvements in customer satisfaction and productivity.  Although the number of organisations adopting the wellbeing agenda is growing rapidly, there is limited published data available, but decreases in sickness absence of between 10% and 40% have been reported.

Further reading:

What’s happening with Well-Being at Work?, CIPD 2007

Growing the health and well-being agenda: from first steps to full potential, CIPD, 2016