Securing reasonable adjustments for young disabled workers

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2018 National Disabled Members' Conference
6 July 2018
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that securing reasonable adjustments in the workplace is a challenge faced by many disabled workers. However young disabled workers in particular all too often do not have the tools, experience or job security to request the reasonable adjustments they are legally entitled to at work.

This may be due to various factors, including:

a) the fear of speaking up and not being taken seriously, or worse, losing their jobs

b) a lack of confidence and understanding of what can be requested with regards to reasonable adjustments including the support of a Personal Assistant

c) a lack of awareness of the Equality Act 2010 and the legal duty on the employer to provide reasonable adjustments

d) a lack of awareness of the Access to Work scheme

These fears are often well founded. According to the TUC, young workers are more likely to be in precarious employment, including zero hour contracts. They are less likely to be union members than their older counterparts. Furthermore, young workers with hidden disabilities or as-yet-undiagnosed disabilities often face a lack of understanding from colleagues and managers in any workplace context, based on their age. They may be told ‘you’re too young to have a bad back!’ for example.

Conference applauds the work of the TUC/STUC ‘Unions into Schools Programme’ that helps young people prepare for the world of work and introduces them to the role of trade unions at work. Disabled young people entering the workplace may face an additional barrier in securing employment and the provision of reasonable adjustments can be essential to support them in an interview process.

Where young disabled workers are also Black they may also face racism in the workplace that stops them asserting their right to reasonable adjustments for fear of ‘causing trouble’

Conference notes the resources that exist for activists when negotiating reasonable adjustments with employers, including UNISON’s comprehensive guide ‘Proving Disability and Reasonable Adjustments’ which lists potential reasonable adjustments. Short guides to Access to Work and reasonable adjustments for members are also available on the UNISON website. However young disabled members and activists are not always aware of the resources that are available.

The National Young Members Forum therefore calls on the National Disabled Members Committee to work with the Forum to:

1. Publicise UNISON’s Proving Disability and Reasonable Adjustment guide that includes examples of reasonable adjustments so young disabled activists can have an understanding of the different types of adjustments that can be negotiated

2. Update and publicise the short guides to reasonable adjustments including the role and support of Personal Assistants and Access to Work for members and potential members that can also be used at recruitment events.

3. Consider developing a resource for activists that explains how to negotiate reasonable adjustments.

4. Publicise the work of the TUC/STUC’s Unions into Schools Programme, including highlighting adjustments that may be made to the interview process.

5. Seek to ensure UNISON’s resources, including social media presence, cover issues relevant to young disabled members, including young Black disabled members.