Employers can consider taking positive action to increase representation of disabled people and those with learning difficulties and disabilities (LDD) in their organisations.
Positive action is legal under the Equality Act 2010, and refers to the deliberate actions taken by an employer to counteract the historical or sustained disadvantage an individual could experience in recruitment and employment, solely due to them holding a protected characteristic.
Examples of positive action in relation to recruiting more disabled and apprentices with LDD could be:
- holding a specific recruitment open day for special educational needs (SEN) students from local schools or colleges
- implementing lower qualifications for entry onto an apprenticeship for those with LDD
- using a work trial rather than a formal interview for someone with LDD or an autistic spectrum disorder - this may allow some individuals to better showcase the skills they have for a specific role, rather than showing how they cope in a formal or pressurised environment
- advertising that the organisation is a disability confident employer
- implementing an application mentor scheme, where a current employee offers support and guidance to an applicant with a protected characteristic.
For those people already in post, employers could:
- consider implementing a development scheme for disabled staff or staff with LDD, which would offer them specific support to develop in their roles and careers, such as the NHS Leadership Academy's Stepping Up Programme which supports Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff to develop into leadership roles
- see if there is appetite from disabled staff to set up a disabled staff network, which could offer support and an opportunity to contribute feedback on organisational strategy
- use appraisals and one-to-one meetings to discuss support for the individual and, if they have declared a disability, any workplace adjustments. If they have not declared a disability, apprentices may find this space useful to have a wider discussion about any support they may need.
Find out more about positive action on our positive action web pages and in our podcast with Jagtar Singh, trust chair of Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust.