Financial help for diversity and inclusivity hiring

Despite 21% of working adults being disabled, one in ten employers claim that their business cannot support an employee with a disability or a health condition.

According to Evenbreak, a company that connects candidates with inclusive companies, the barriers to employment for disabled people include:

Employers' concerns about hiring disabled people

Employers can be wary of employing disabled people.

"There's still a perception that disabled is somehow less than non-disabled, so one of the biggest barriers is changing perceptions of hiring managers and employers," says Jane Hatton, Evenbreak founder.

The Centre for Social Justice found that 63% of employers feel there is a significant barrier to hiring someone with a disability.

The same report found that commonly perceived barriers include the cost and inconvenience of making reasonable adjustments, concerns about employees' ability to do their job and integrate into a team, and a fear of litigation and adverse customer reactions.

Employers may have concerns about the cost of making reasonable adjustments but often overestimate these costs.

For example, research shows that only around 4% of reasonable adjustments have a financial cost and the average cost per adjustment is around £184 per disabled employee.

Employers' responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010.

The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people with a disability from discrimination in the workplace and broader society.

Additionally, employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to ensure workers with disabilities, or physical or mental health conditions are not substantially disadvantaged when doing their jobs and during recruitment.

Reasonable adjustments may include enabling employees to do something differently, for example, providing a designated desk for someone anxious rather than requiring them to hot desk.

It may also include physical adjustments, such as installing a ramp for wheelchair access.

Read our guide to the benefits of hiring for diversity and inclusivity.

Information and support for employers with disabled employees

Support is available to help businesses that employ disabled people, for example, via the UK Government's Disability Confident employer scheme.

The scheme offers valuable support and information on making reasonable adjustments, supporting older workers and where employers can find financial support to help disabled employees.

Other toolkits are available to support employers, including an autism employment toolkit and the DWP autism and neurodiversity knowledge toolkit.

With many disabilities acquired through age, The Centre for Ageing Better offers a valuable toolkit for becoming an age-friendly employer.

Restless is a jobs board for older people that offers a wealth of information, as does the Disability Employment board.

Many charities offer information and support for employers, including AbilityNet and Scopes' Work with me, a community of businesses committed to improving disability employment.

Organisations that support disabled and older people in the workplace are also a good source of information and support.

For example, Genius Within offers a wealth of knowledge about neurodiversity and has a team of Occupational Psychologists, workplace coaches, and HR experts.

In addition, Clear Talents offers a paid-for tool that helps employees self-identify any reasonable adjustments they might need and creates a report to share with their employer.

Financial support for disabled employees

The UK Government's Access to Work (ATW) scheme offers a grant to help employees with a physical or mental health condition or disability "get or stay in work".

Employees must apply for the grant, although payments often go to the employer.

The grant doesn't cover employers looking to make reasonable adjustments.

Under the scheme, individuals can apply for:

  • a grant to help pay for practical support with work
  • money to pay for communication support at job interviews
  • access to advice about managing mental health at work.

The type of support that an Access to Work grant can pay for includes BSL interpreters, lip speakers, adaptations to a vehicle, taxi fares where people cannot use public transport and a support worker or job coach.

To be eligible for the support, individuals must have a physical or mental impairment that has lasted for 12 months or more and means they need support to do their job or get to and from work, be over 16, and in paid employment or about to return to paid work in the next 12-weeks.

Reasonable adjustments employers make qualify for tax relief as a business expense, either as a revenue expense or through capital allowances.

Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.

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