Disability in the Community Sector

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2014 Community Service Group Conference
2 November 2013
Carried as Amended

Conference is aware that disabled people make up approximately of 45% of the workforce in the UK and that a number of disabled people work in the Community Sector. Whilst there are examples of good employment practice, this is inconsistent across Community due to the absence of a national negotiating body and the number of small employers. As a result some disabled people often have poor terms and conditions in respect of protection from discrimination, selection for redundancy, sickness absence, provision of reasonable adjustments and disability leave.

Conference notes that there is a lack of understanding and awareness in respect of the provisions in the Equality Act 2010 relating to disability, who is covered by the Act and the social model of disability by employers, workers and our members.

Conference further notes that the Equality Act 2010 defines a disabled person as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long term effect on the ability to carry out normal daily activities. This includes anyone living with HIV, cancer and multiple sclerosis from the date of diagnosis and those people with non-apparent impairments and long term conditions such as diabetes and epilepsy.

Conference further notes that to benefit from the provisions of the Equality Act 2010, a person is required to disclose that they are disabled. In these times of austerity, with job losses and attacks on our terms and conditions, some disabled people are reluctant to inform their employers that they are disabled.

Conference recognises that the language used in the Equality Act 2010 is not ideal, the provisions provide minimum standards. Conference believes that branches should go further and negotiate with employers to adopt the social model of disability. The social model recognises that it is not the impairment that prevents a disabled person from carrying out activities but it is the barriers that exist in society, the environment and the workplace.

Conference further recognises that the public sector equality duty primarily only applies to public bodies and those private and community organisations who deliver a public service on behalf a public body.

Conference therefore calls on the Service Group Executive working with the National Disabled Members Committee to:

i) Ask branches to provide information on their employer’s practices in respect of disabled workers including the use of the public sector equality duty

ii) Collate and publicise examples of good practice on disability related policies and procedures

iii) Produce guidance on negotiating and bargaining on behalf of disabled members

iv) Encourage and equip branches to bargain with employers to improve disability policies

v) Produce information to branches on the Equality Act 2010 including the public sector equality duty and how it should be used in the Community sector

vi) Providing information to branches on the disability provisions within Equality Act 2010 and the social model of disability