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Employers need to mind the gaps in disability reporting

Although half of employers do not report on the number of people they employ with disabilities, over two-thirds (68%) agree that transparency on disability reporting in the workplace would help to reduce the disability employment gap.

According to the Office of National Statistics there are currently over 5m people with disabilities in the workplace and yet GRiD research shows that 50% of employers do not yet report on the number of people with disabilities that they employ. Although this is a small improvement on the 46% of employers who were reporting on this issue last year, GRiD suggests that with mandatory reporting potentially on the cards for larger corporates, it is a good idea for all companies to start.

Research conducted for the industry body for the group risk sector highlights the contradiction that, although half of employers do not report on the number of people they employ with disabilities, over two-thirds (68%) agree that transparency on disability reporting in the workplace would help to reduce the disability employment gap by leading to more inclusive practices.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said: “It’s good to see a growing number of employers being transparent and getting a better grasp of the number of people in their organisation with a disability. This will undoubtedly enable them to support this group of employees better and ensure they have relevant employee benefits and workplace initiatives in place.”

GRiD warns that it is not mandatory for employees to tell their employer about any disability, so organisations wanting to collect data need to tread carefully. With many disabilities being ‘non-visible’ (such as diabetes, mental health issues, visual and hearing impairments, and cancer) and some employees preferring to be discreet about their disability, under-reporting is common in this area which represents another gap that employers need to be aware of.

Of those businesses that do currently collect information on the proportion of people with disabilities in their workforce.

  • 45% do so to inform diversity and inclusion (D&I) practices and initiatives, and the same number (45%) use the data to track progress made on their D&I initiatives.
  • 41% do so to inform recruitment practice.
  • 34% do so to inform talent management practice.

These statistics reinforce the fact that collecting data is not simply an exercise to satisfy a future potential mandate, but it can be beneficial to businesses themselves.

Support available within employee benefits
There is much support available within employee benefits, particularly group risk (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness), for both employers and their staff. This can include legal and HR helplines to help the business, and physical, financial and mental help for employees.

As well as providing financial support for the newly disabled, group income protection includes access to help, from vocational rehabilitation experts, to advice and support with making reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act.

Katharine Moxham concluded: “We would encourage employers to make an informed decision now that it is in the best interests of their employees. Without reporting, they are less likely to have the evidence that shows what their needs are and how they can really make a difference in the lives of their employees who live with a disability day-in, day-out.”

https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/datasets/labourmarketstatusofdisabledpeoplea08

The research was undertaken by Opinium from 9-22 January 2023 among 503 HR decision-makers at UK businesses.

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/disability-workforce-reporting

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