In a consultation launched last week, the government is asking organisations for their views on voluntary and mandatory reporting of disability in the workforce by large employers.

Part of the national disability strategy, the aim is to find out how employers with more than 250 employees might be encouraged to collect and report statistics about disability, to make their workforces more inclusive. It includes questions on current practice and how workforce reporting on disability might be stepped up.

Although a voluntary reporting framework has been in place since 2018, employers
are not currently required to inform the government whether or not they are using it. As a result, there is little known about its actual use.

However, research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in April 2021 found that only 21 per cent of respondents were aware of the framework and, of those, only 37 per cent had adopted any part of it. Meanwhile, 54 per cent of small to medium-sized enterprises that were aware of the framework said they had no plans to adopt it.

During development of the national disability strategy, some stakeholders argued that mandating reporting on disability for large employers had the potential to improve workplaces and outcomes for disabled people through increased transparency.

Others, however, were concerned about a mandatory approach, highlighting challenges for employers and the potential for unintended consequences. For instance, it was said that employees might feel under pressure to disclose disability or identify as disabled when they did not want to. Another concern was that publication of a single statistic might misrepresent the work being done by an employer to create inclusive environments.

This latest government review says that it wants to explore the issue of disability workforce reporting further, seeking views that will shape its future approach in four main areas:

  • understanding the current landscape
  • benefits and barriers to disability workforce reporting
  • considerations if mandatory disability workforce reporting was implemented
  • alternative approaches.

To take part in the consultation (which closes on 25 March 2022), click here.