In the construction industry people with disabilities cannot be discriminated against – and employers have much to gain from taking on a diverse workforce.
A diverse workforce brings benefits to both the employee and the employer. For people with disabilities, a job in construction can provide a great career for life.
Meanwhile, the industry gains a diverse workforce of highly respected employees who are skilled at what they do – and will often be very loyal to a good employer. Here we take a closer look at the subject.
Should a person with a disability tell their boss about it? This is a question many people ask themselves – especially if their disability is invisible.
Although an employee with a disability is not obliged to disclose their disability to their employer, if they do, they are protected under the Equality Act 2010.
This makes it unlawful for an employer to treat them less favourably than other employees for any reason connected with their disability, unless there is justification for such action.
It’s also worth remembering that if an employer is unaware of a disability they will not be able to make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled workers aren’t seriously disadvantaged when doing their jobs.
Get practical advice and information on promoting inclusion within your workforce.
In practical terms in construction, a reasonable adjustment may be as simple as providing a particular type of control on a piece of machinery.
In legal terms, adjustments can aim to make sure that, as far as is reasonable, a disabled worker has the same access to everything that is involved in doing and keeping a job as a non-disabled person.
An employer is not required to do more than what is reasonable and this depends, among other factors, on the size and nature of their organisation. Advice is available from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Health and safety should never be used as an excuse to discriminate, even if this is not the intention.
Employers may need to consider adjusting the task to make it possible for a disabled worker to do a job safely.
Find out more about health and safety for disabled people.
More information if you're an employer, from how to take on an apprentice to free downloadable resources.
Risk assessments are essential in the construction industry, but employers do not need to carry out a separate health and safety risk assessment for a disabled employee.
Instead, they should review the risk assessment carefully to make sure they cover any risks that might be present for that employee and their colleagues. They may then need to put measures in place to address any risks.
These may be simple, such as allowing other colleagues to do certain parts of an activity or providing suitable alternative equipment.
A person with a disability may be eligible for an Access to Work grant to help them:
Meanwhile, an employer might get financial assistance through the same scheme to cover the cost of any new equipment needed when employing someone with a disability.
Find out more about how employers can use Access to Work