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Boris Johnson must address growing disability employment gap

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Prime minister Boris Johnson has been urged to deliver a strategy to improve the employment prospects of disabled people in a new report by the CSJ Disability Commission.

In an open letter, a group of senior business leaders from the Commission, including Post Office CEO Nick Read and Schroders CEO Peter Harrison, have urged Johnson to keep his promise and tackle the growing disability employment gap. 

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) reports that just 52% of disabled people, and only 5.6% of those with a learning disability, are in employment compared with 81% of non-disabled people.

Published yesterday (23 March) the Now Is The Time report made several key recommendations ahead of the publication of the prime minister’s much-anticipated National Strategy for Disabled People.

It recommended increasing supported routes into employment and the introduction of mandatory workforce reporting would help reduce the disability employment gap.

Leveraging government procurement, reforming the government’s Disability Confident scheme and reforming the government’s Access to Work scheme, were also recommended.

Jackie Hudson, an ourHRpeople franchisee, said HR can play an important support role in aiding the employment prospects of disabled people by offering flexible low-hour-paid placements.

She told HR magazine: "Flexible and paid placement work can help to facilitate development of good relationships, and to build quality work experience. 

"HR should consider a bigger use of job sharing which can help to provide flexibility for staff to help to manage conditions and impairments."

The Commission’s chairman, Conservative member of the House of Lords, Kevin Shinkwin said: “The CSJ Disability Commission believes its recommendations will go a long way to removing the barriers disabled people face, and as such will enhance their independence, financial stability, social inclusion, and wellbeing.”

Shinkwin said the National Strategy for Disabled People should mark an important milestone as the country recovers from the economic and social pain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said: “The pandemic has disproportionately affected disabled people’s income, health, and employment prospects.

“The Commission believes that central to the prime minister’s strategy should be robust policies to ensure equality of opportunity in employment and to support the ability of disabled people to live independently.”

Shinkwin added that as the first point of entry to a company it is vital people teams support the improvement of employment opportunities for disabled people and includes it in overall strategy.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “When we look at the recommendations published in the report, two really stand out as being of significant importance to HR: increasing supported routes into employment and introducing mandatory workforce reporting so that there’s the consistency and transparency essential to enabling firms to compete for talent on a level playing field.

"HR is the driving force of a company's employment strategy and so it is important that they are also working to drive the strategy to ensure equality of opportunity within their own organisation and to support the ability of disabled people to live independently."


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