- 2019 National Disabled Members' Conference
- 8 July 2019
- Carried as Amended
Conference notes that in November 2018 the Department of Work and Pensions and the Department of Health & Social Care jointly launched a Framework on the Voluntary Reporting on Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing. This compliments the Public Sector Equality Duty.
The Framework is a voluntary scheme – aimed at large employers with over 250 employees – to publish statistics and information on employing disabled people in a bid to increase transparency and encourage employers to tackle their disability employment gap, whereby disabled people have an employment rate which is 30% lower than non-disabled people.
Conference welcomes the intent; however, believes this fails to go far enough and that employers need to demonstrate commitment and accountability too.
Conference is aware that the Disability Confident Scheme is a nationally accredited scheme commonly used across our public services. However, the Scheme is not without its critics and in the years it has operated, as at 1st July 2019, 12,200 employers have signed up. Of those participating in the Disability Confident Scheme only 1.8% (216 employers) are operating at a level that provides scrutiny through independent assessment. Conference believes that although Disability Confident may act as a way of encouraging employers who are already positive about disability, only a mandatory and independently assessed scheme can tackle those employers who do little or nothing to support disabled staff.
In October 2018 the Office for National Statistics noted there are 5.7 million private sector businesses of which 1.4 million are employers. In the context of the Disability Confident Scheme take up represents 0.8% of all employing private sector businesses. This excludes Public Sector employers who employ some 5.4 million (2019) and the Third Sector who employ some 866,000 staff (2018).
In December 2018, a House of Commons briefing paper noted that only 8,000 private sector businesses employed 250 or more people representing 0.1% of all private sector businesses and accounting for 40% of all private sector employment (10.7 million employees).
Conference believes that the first steps to demonstrating a commitment to closing the disability employment gap should include commitments from employers to annually publish their disability employment statistics, and to participate in and attain the highest level of the Disability Confident Scheme.
However, the limited impact of the Disability Confident Scheme demonstrates that employers will not voluntarily commit to providing disability statistics or voluntary commit to a robust level of transparency or scrutiny. Therefore, there is reduced confidence that the Framework will be better received.
The publication of statistics would demonstrate a commitment by employers to employ and promote disabled people and would provide evidence that the disability gap is closing in relation to the employment, progression, and management of disabled workers. It is now time for employers to become properly accountable.
In addition, conference recognises that the disability employment gap is complicated by occupational segregation whereby women are over–represented in low paid cleaning, catering, clerical, cashier and child care jobs (the five ‘Cs’). For disabled women this can mean that not only do they face barriers to accessing the workplace as a disabled person, they face further barriers as a woman in accessing higher paid jobs outside of the five ‘Cs’. Employment statistics need to include such issues of intersectionality if they are to be meaningful and lead to improvements for all of our disabled members.
Conference calls on the National Disabled Members’ Committee:
1)Where its research concludes there are benefits to the current Disability Confident Scheme, to actively campaign for all public serviceemployers to participate in the nationally accredited Disability Confident Scheme encouraging them to demonstrate a genuine commitment to its implementation and to scrutiny by progressing to the highest level of the Scheme.
2)To consider any revisions necessary to improve the Disability Confident Scheme and lobby for same through the most appropriate routes.
3)To research and establish a range of useful key employment indicators relating to the employment, progression and management of disabled workers including issues of intersectionality that would allow organisations to evidence they are closing the disability gap, and then to promote the collation of these as a minimum standard.
4)To call upon the Labour Link to raise the issue of meaningful disability employment statistics through the Labour Party asking it to:
a)Explore the issue.
b)Consider establishing a set of key employment indicators relating to the employment, progression and management of disabled workers including issues of intersectionality, and then to promote the collation of these as a minimum standard in employing businesses and organisations.
c)Consider campaigning and lobbying the UK and devolved governments for compulsory publication of key disability employment statistics in businesses and organisations across Sectors who employ fifty staff or more.
Scottish Disabled Members’ Committee