A new survey[i] of UK SME owners conducted by Bolt Burdon Kemp has revealed 95% of respondents don’t understand the legal rights of disabled employees. This is in spite of a recent government report highlighting a rise in disabled workers in the UK[ii].
Government figures show there are 930,000 more disabled people in work today than five years ago, as the rate of employment for disabled people outstripped non-disabled people. The UK government has ambitious plans to get a million disabled people into work over the next ten years[iii].
Looking after disabled employees is going to become increasingly important, as employers will need to play their part in encouraging and supporting disabled workers.
It’s not just in the UK. Globally one billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability[iv] so companies operating overseas need to consider their disabled workforce too.
According to Adam Riley, Director of Global Development, at Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing, disability management is increasingly on the agenda for businesses around the world and understanding local laws is crucial to developing benefits for disabled employees.
Mr Riley says, “Employers need to understand the legal rights of disabled employees, given there are growing numbers in the workplace. We are an ageing population that is going to be working longer, making ill-health and disability more likely for people during their working life.
“They will need to consider what support they offer employees who were previously active and earning a regular income who become ill or incapacitated and unable to carry out their job and help them to continue working.
“Currently the way in which different governments and employers tackle disability varies significantly across the globe. While employers want to do the right thing, local legislation and industry practices are such that this issue can be handled very differently by employers globally.
“This presents huge challenges for international companies managing disability and long-term illness in the workplace, especially if they operate in several different locations. We recommend employers of all sizes get advice from experienced advisers, who have local knowledge when building and implementing a global strategy.
“A one-size-fits-all approach rarely works when it comes to the technical complexities and logistical challenges surrounding global benefits, and expert advice is therefore essential.”