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Employers at legal risk under DDA

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One in three UK employers is putting themselves at risk under disability discrimination laws, according to a report released today.

The Employers’ Forum Disability Standard 2007 survey, developed by the Employers’ Forum on Disability (EFD), quizzed 116 organisations, between them employing around 2 million people, and found that only 8 per cent of businesses have an effective reasonable adjustment policy in place, whilst just 14 per cent have introduced effective guidance for approving reasonable adjustment requests.

Under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), disabled employees have the right to adjustments that allow them to work as effectively as their non-disabled colleagues.

Susan Scott-Parker, EFD chief executive, said that the results of the report are clear: “Employers are still not doing enough to ensure reasonable adjustments for their disabled staff. This is despite their legal obligation to do so – and despite the fact that most adjustments cost little or nothing at all to make.”

The report also concluded that HR is struggling with their responsibility for disability, with only 44 per cent of participants demonstrating they have disability actions plans in HR. In addition, a whopping 70 per cent do not track if adjustments have been made and only 17 per cent ensure their recruitment suppliers meet their legal obligations and are disability competent.

Scott-Parker added: “Employers must recognise the legal risks involved in not making adjustments and they must ensure that adjustments they do make for disabled staff are monitored effectively.”

The Disability Standard is a management tool that allows organisations to accurately measure their performance on disability and to put in place action plans that deliver real business improvement.

Out of the 116 businesses that took part in this year’s benchmarking survey, high street bank Lloyds TSB was ranked first, due to the progress it has made over the last five years. During this time, the number of Lloyds TSB staff with a declared disability has trebled, and almost a third now hold a managerial role.

Fiona Cannon, head of equality and diversity at Lloyds TSB, remarked that accommodating the needs of all staff is not just a question of legal compliance.

“There are clear business benefits when we remove barriers that might prevent one of our employees from doing his or her job effectively. With the help of organisations such as EFD, we have built a work environment in which employees have the confidence to declare their personal disabilities, safe in the knowledge there are support systems in place for them.”

Over 1,500 line mangers within the firm have attended disability awareness courses and all front line employees have undertaken diversity training.

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