This Disability History Month, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published new guidance for employers with the aim of making workplaces more accessible to disabled people and those with long-term health conditions.

Although the UK has record rates of employment, the guidance highlights the fact that disabled people are less likely to be employed than non-disabled people, and twice as likely to fall out of work. It, therefore, stresses the importance of making sure that workplaces are accessible, that staff communication is clear and inclusive, and appropriate occupational health support is available.

To that end, the guidance outlines employers’ responsibilities and focuses on early and supportive action that they should take to tackle the estimated 149.3 million working days lost in the UK last year because of sickness or injury, equivalent to 4.6 days per worker.

It also emphasises the importance of managers and workers developing the confidence to have conversations about health and disability and the need to ensure that any requests for changes to working patterns or modifications in the workplace are dealt with quickly.

In particular, it suggests that these conversations focus on:

  • Creating a supportive and enabling workplace culture
  • Taking an inclusive approach to workplace health
  • Understanding the needs of disabled workers and those with long-term health conditions
  • Making suitable workplace adjustments or modifications
  • Supporting sickness absence and a return to work.

The guidance also suggests that supervisors, managers and owners develop the necessary skills, knowledge and understanding to help support workers; to apply practices in the right way; to manage consistently and fairly; and to handle individual circumstances that can sometimes be complex and challenging.

Finally, the guidance recommends that managers develop effective and accessible communication skills in order to ensure that relevant information is accessible to everyone; that information is in formats in which people need it; and that workers are empowered to use that information in the right way.

To read the report in full, click here.