Removing barriers for disabled workers

Back to all Motions

2017 Higher Education Service Group Conference
10 November 2016

This Conference is concerned that research has consistently shown that within the Higher Education sector, disabled staff are not having their access needs met and institutional discrimination against disabled staff is widespread.

Disabled workers in Higher Education institutions are disproportionately selected for redundancy, and can face both direct and indirect discrimination when trying to get the adjustments they are entitled to, including reasonable adjustments in the workplace, Access to Work support and access to disability leave.

UNISON’s 2016 Equality Survey revealed that of the 68 disabled members who responded from the Higher Education service group requiring reasonable adjustments in the workplace, only 31% received them in a speedy and satisfactory manner and 28% said their employer has not implemented the reasonable adjustment, even though the employer is aware of it. This suggests that some managers do not understand or comply with their duties, or responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments.

Very often disabled members do not know their rights under the Equality Act 2010 and turn to their union representatives or Branch Officers for assistance. Not all representatives, stewards or officers are aware of how to support disabled members in these circumstances.

Conference calls on the Higher Education Service Group Executive to work with the National Disabled Members Committee to;

1)Develop guidance for negotiators to support disabled members (including those covered by other protected characteristics) in Higher Education.

2)Include guidance on how to secure reasonable adjustments in the workplace and information on Access to Work;

3)Update the Guide to Disability Leave in Higher Education and distribute this to branches and regions;

4)Proactively encourage branches to organise disability awareness training for their reps and officers.