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Disability (or should it be ‘Superhuman’ spirit?) in the Workplace

Hannah Cockcroft

Superhuman spirit !

Whilst we were all still in awe of the achievements of Team GB in the Olympics, Channel 4 successfully maintained the jubilant spirit of London 2012 by enticing us further to “Meet the Superhumans”.  Sure enough, the Paralympic athletes bowled us over with their strength, bravery and tenacity.  No doubt the paralympians’ stories will have inspired small businesses up and down the country, who are currently contending with various adversities brought on by the recession, and who need a motivational boost.  In addition, our thoughts have lately turned towards the lives of people living with disabilities on a daily basis.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (“DDA”) protects the rights of people with “physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term effect on [their] ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.  It covers discrimination against disabled applicants for jobs and existing employees who are disabled (– except for where the employer is a small business.  For the purposes of the Act “small businesses” are those which employ less than fifteen people).  And it covers discrimination against disabled pupils or students at educational institutions.  It also seeks to protect the rights of disabled people in relation to goods, facilities and services; and creates an obligation for premises and public transport to facilitate the needs of disabled people.

If you run a business with fifteen or more employees, the DDA assumes your business will have enough resources to accommodate the needs of disabled employees.  You would not be alone, however, as there are various organisations and networks which aim to help companies fulfil their obligations with regards to disabled staff and customers.  The ILO Global Business and Disability Network, for example, aims to help companies “benefit from more diverse workforces, improved productivity, reduced turnover, safer workplaces and increased customer service and community brand loyalty”.

If you are disabled yourself and wish to start your own business, it is worth researching the various financial grants available. And if you have any further queries regarding disability and the law, please do not hesitate to contact us at Off To See My Lawyer.

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