UNISON helps found Disability Employment Charter

New charter calls for concrete steps to improve the working lives of disabled people

Disability Employment Charter logo

UNISON is one of six founding member organisations which launched a new Disability Employment Charter this month, calling on the government to do much more to improve the working lives of disabled people.

The charter was produced as a response to the government’s long-awaited national disability strategy, which was published in July.

UNISON national officer for disability equality Deirdre Costigan said: “The government’s disability strategy promised lots, but in the end, it was a damp squib with no new commitments and no additional funding.

“It was a collection of vague aspirations and rehashed announcements. Our Disability Employment Charter is calling for concrete steps to improve the working life of disabled people.”

The charter was put together by a group of nine organisations, including Disability Rights UK and the Business Disability Forum. UNISON is the only trade union involved.

The charter includes calls for mandatory disability pay gap reporting and time off for trade union equality reps.

It also calls for a two-week deadline for employers to respond to requests for reasonable adjustments. In a UNISON survey of disabled members in 2019, nearly a quarter of respondents waited a year or more for reasonable adjustments to be put in place, while many never even had the courtesy of a response from the their employer.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Disabled workers often wait far too long for even the simplest workplace adjustments to be put in place. The government should give employers a two-week deadline to agree the required changes to offices and equipment. This would help prevent employees leaving their roles frustrated at lengthy delays.”

So far, over 40 organisations have signed up to the charter, joining with UNISON in calling on the government to take urgent action to improve the rights of disabled workers.