In its latest annual survey on health and well-being at work the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that only a minority of employers offer training in how to manage someone with a disability.

The survey of over 1000 HR professionals, entitled “Health and Well-Being At Work”, also found that three quarters of respondents thought that their organisation faced challenges in managing people with a disability and/or long-term health condition.

Although a majority reported that their organisation had a framework in place to recruit and retain people with a disability, the report concludes that many employers would benefit from using a wider range of approaches.

For instance, currently, just a third provide training and guidance for line managers, despite respondents’ assertions that developing line manager knowledge and confidence was the most common challenge in managing people with a disability and/or long-term health condition. Half of organisations have used some form of external support, most commonly Access to Work (32 per cent) and Fit for Work (26 per cent). Fewer have used, or heard of, the Disability Confident scheme.

Respondents were asked which three government-led changes would make the greatest difference to improving how their organisation manages people with a disability and/ or long-term health condition. Their most common responses were an online “one-stop shop”, providing information and practical tools, and more financial support for making adjustments

The survey also revealed that mental health ill health is an increasing issue of concern for organisations. Over a fifth (22 per cent) now report that mental ill health is the primary cause of long-term absence compared with 13 per cent in 2016, and there has also been a significant increase in the number of reported common mental health conditions among employees in the past 12 months.

The reasons for this increase are many and varied, with some factors being outside the control of organisations. For instance, an ageing population means that many workers have increased caring responsibilities that can put pressure on their work–life balance; and the wider political and economic climate (such as the uncertainty created by Brexit) can also influence people’s sense of well-being.

Gerard Airey of Thompsons Solicitors commented: “The latest survey produces some startling figures, particularly that a just a third provide training for Managers on disability issues. It seems that not enough is being done to enable people to deal with disability issues in line with the law and also on a human level.

Employers often seem surprised when a Tribunal finds they have discriminated due to disability and these statistics suggests it’s due to a lack of understanding on what is necessary. More focus must be given on these issues. Preventing discrimination on the basis of disability is just as important as the other protected characteristics. The report suggests it’s not taken as seriously and progress must be made in this area.”

Visit the CIPD website to read the report in full.