Disability Inclusion in the Workplace

Inclusion for disability is not just a legal obligation, but an essential and fundamental aspect in creating an equal, diverse, thriving and productive working environment. At Nationwide Employment Lawyers, we are acutely aware of the challenges and barriers that individuals with disabilities often face in their professional lives. Ensuring these individuals are provided with equal opportunities and treated with respect and dignity is paramount.

The Equality Act 2010 (EqA) mandates employers to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate everyone; including people with disabilities, ensuring they can perform their roles effectively. However, we know true compliance and an inclusive environment go way past this. It involves creating a culture where everyone is recognised, valued, supported and empowered.  

At Nationwide Employment Lawyers, we are here to help employees experiencing disability discrimination in the workplace, ensuring they understand the legal protection set out in the EqA. This not only results in companies complying with the law but also being champions of equality and fairness, for the benefit of employees that work there.

Disability inclusion affects everyone; the individual, their family and friends, work colleagues and business leaders. Working together to create an inclusive environment leads to increased employee morale, diverse perspectives, connectivity, and innovation. Within this post, we discuss what a disability is and explore the EqA further, including how it can support individuals.


What is a Disability?

A disability refers to a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term effect on a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. This definition is from the EqA and emphasises the importance of recognising the broad spectrum of conditions that can impact an individual’s working life.  

Disability crosses both mental and physical impairments and can include mobility impairments, visual or hearing impairments, and chronic illnesses such as diabetes or arthritis. In relation to mental disabilities, these can include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and learning disabilities such as dyslexia. These impairments; both physical and mental, must be substantial, meaning they are long-term, typically lasting or expected to last at least 12 months.

At Nationwide Employment Lawyers, we recognise that disabilities are not always visible or immediately apparent. Strong and robust communication channels within an organisation as well as training and development, and open-door policies will help create inclusive workplaces that accommodate all forms of disabilities and ensure individuals feel supported and respected.


The Legal Landscape 

Discrimination is unlawful in the UK and the Equality Act 2010 (EqA) sets out comprehensive protections against various forms of discrimination, including those based on disability. The EqA clearly outlines several ways an employer or colleague may discriminate against someone with a disability. They are as follows;

Direct discrimination – When someone is treated less favourably than others because of their disability.

Indirect discrimination – A practice that applies to all workers but disadvantages those with a disability, compared to those who do not have a disability, and cannot be objectively justified.

Victimisation – This occurs when someone is treated unfairly because they have made or supported a complaint about discrimination.

Harassment – Unwanted behaviour towards someone that violates their dignity, resulting in an environment that is hostile, offensive, intimidating, humiliating or degrading. 

Failing to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace – Not making changes that would enable a disabled person to work comfortably and effectively.

Discrimination arising from something related to a disability – Treating a person unfairly because of something connected to their disability. 

The EqA is there to protect individuals if they are experiencing disability discrimination at work by providing a legal framework to address unlawful treatment, creating a fair and inclusive workplace for everyone.


Success Strategies for Inclusion

There are several strategies that can be adopted to improve disability inclusion.


  • Respectful Culture – Fostering a culture that is infused with respect, understanding and care is the foundation for creating an inclusive and supportive workplace environment where every individual can thrive and contribute their best.


  • Training Programme – A comprehensive diversity and inclusion training programme will ensure all employees are equipped with up-to-date knowledge and can recognise and address common biases. 


  • Accessible Workplace Policies – Ensuring your workplace is accessible to all demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity and empowers employees to perform at their fullest potential, regardless of any challenges they may face. Employers are legally obligated to make reasonable adjustments, such as modifying workstations and offering flexible work schedules, to support employees with disabilities.


  • Open Communication Channels – Open communication channels through Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), mentor opportunities, open door policies and actively seeking feedback from employees helps to foster a supportive environment where everyone feels valued and heard.


  • Leadership Commitment – Managers leading the way and showing their commitment to diversity initiatives reinforces the organisation’s commitment to equality and promotes a collaborative workplace culture. Leaders who lead by example inspire trust and confidence among employees, fostering a sense of belonging and mutual respect. 


Recognising, addressing and supporting employees with a disability in the workplace is not only a legal requirement but is also morally the right thing to do. It ensures all employees are given equal opportunities to succeed. 


Do you Require Some Legal Advice?

To speak to someone about disability discrimination in the workplace, please call us on 020 8263 6080 or complete our online form today. One of our employment law specialists will be in touch to learn more about your enquiry or case and provide some initial advice. We have an experienced team who are dedicated to guiding employees through discrimination claims.

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