There are over 7 million disabled people of working age in the UK but there is a large gap between their employment prospects and those who are non-disabled. When there is a skills shortage in the hotel and catering industry surely it is time we looked at the opportunities that disabled people offer.

Daniel Pedreshi, General Manager at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, said:

“We look at the ability of the potential disabled person, what they can do to help us and how we can welcome the disabled person into or back to work. We have employed people using a wheelchair, those with a hearing and sight impairment, as well as people with learning difficulties.”

Nearly 7 million people of working age in the UK are disabled or have a health condition. Historically there has been a significant gap between the proportion of disabled people employed compared with non-disabled people. There are clear benefits of employing disabled people, they include:

Encouraging applications from disabled people is good for business. It can help you:

  • 1. Provide the opportunity to increase the number of good quality applicants.
  • 2. Create a workforce that matches the customer base you have and the community area you work in.
  • 3. Add extra skills to the business, such as using British Sign Language (BSL), which could help you improve the service provided for deaf people.
  • 4. Make reasonable adjustments to help disabled employees as these are often very low e.g. providing reading material in large print size, making changes to a disabled person’s working pattern, providing training or mentoring, acquiring equipment and allowing extra time during selection tests.
  • 5. Retain an experienced and well trained employeewho may have recently acquired an impairment and this is often cheaper than recruiting and training new staff.
  • 6. Both individual members of staff and the disabled person.

You may be able to get help from Access to Work towards some costs where an individual requires support or adaptations.

Just as with looking after disabled guests you can’t discriminate against disabled people at any stage of the recruitment process. This means making job adverts accessible to all those who can do the job, whether or not they are disabled. These are important considerations:

  • Having a font that is easy and large enough to read.
  • Making sure you don’t exclude any section of the job community.
  • State clearly that you have an equal opportunities policy.
  • Ensure you include in your person specification only the skills and experience that are vital to do the job.
  • Don’t set criteria which exclude certain groups e.g. stating that applicants must have a driving license when there is no requirement for using a vehicle or an alternative is acceptable such as using a taxi.
  • Give the contact details of someone in your business that can provide further information and discuss any reasonable adjustments that are required.
  • Provide alternative formats for applications, such as providing a paper based form as an alternative to an online application.

The term “reasonable adjustment” comes from The Equality Act but what does it really mean. Here are a few examples for different types of impairment or disability.

Aadjustments for a physically impaired member of staff could include:

  • Providing assistive computer equipment such as modifications to hardware or voice activated software.
  • Agreeing an emergency evacuation procedure with them if they require assistance such as getting down stairs.
  • Making sure that the layout of the working environment is accessible and kept free from obstructions.

Support that an employee with a hearing impairment might need are:

  • Ensuring information is in an accessible format.
  • Providing a seat in a quiet area such as a corner away from the most distracting noise.
  • Having a telephone with adjustable volumes and lights that show calls.

Help a blind or partially sighted employee may require:

  • Training about visual impairments for other staff.
  • Having documents in audio or large print formats.
  • Undertaking a risk assessment of the workplace.
  • Providing a potential work colleague to give a tour of the workplace.
  • Ensuring there is software or technology that magnifies onscreen text and converts text to sound.

Adjustments for staff with a mental health condition could include:

  • Offering flexible working patterns e.g. to start and finish times with adaptable break times.
  • Changing their work environment such as providing a quiet place to work.
  • Working with them to create a plan to help them manage their condition.
  • Allowing them the time to attend appointments connected with their mental health.

Remember that a mental health condition can be an invisible impairment like other disabilities e.g. Autistic spectrum condition (ASC), dyslexia, epilepsy or a learning disability.

When employing a disabled person you need to be careful about the questions you ask at interview and the recruitment process. There is a very helpful Government booklet that covers this called “Equality Act 2010: What Do I Need to Know? A Quick Start Guide to the Ban on Questions about Health and Disability during Recruitment”.

Interesting links:

Post Views: 479