Half of disabled staff experienced barriers after workplace adjustments

disabled workplace barriersHalf of disabled employees said they still experienced disability-related barriers in the workplace after their employer made adjustments, according to research by Business Disability Forum.

The membership organisation’s The great big workplace adjustments survey 2023 looked at the experiences of nearly 1,500 disabled employees and 400 managers around workplace adjustments and inclusion.

It found that 78% of employee respondents said they, rather than their employer, had to initiate the process of getting adjustments and just 10% found it was easy to get what they needed. The speed of getting adjustments has improved by 4% since 2019, however, one in eight have waited over a year to get what they need and 22% have never had theirs reviewed.

Just one in three feel their employer is genuine about removing barriers and making the workplace inclusive and 18% said their adjustments have removed all barriers. Despite this, 40% have felt patronised or put down by others at work because of their disability or condition, with 38% having been bullied or harassed.

Almost three-quarters (72%) said it was easier to manage their disability or condition when working at home during the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, 49% needed additional or different adjustments, 18% said their employer provided everything they needed, and 44% felt their employee assistance programme was accessible and inclusive.

In addition, 64% of managers felt very confident having a conversation with an employee who tells them they have a disability or a condition. A total of 81% said it is a lot easier to make adjustments when an employee tells them this, and 25% agreed that occupational health helped them understand how to manage and support staff.

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Diane Lightfoot, chief executive officer of Business Disability Forum, said: “To be fully inclusive, employers need to have a greater understanding of how disability affects a person’s life as a whole. Accessibility and inclusion need to be embedded in all aspects of the organisation and its culture, with policies and premises designed with disabled people in mind.

‚ÄúSenior leaders should start by challenging poor workplace culture and driving organisational-wide change which better supports disabled employees and managers.‚ÄĚ