Preventing disability discrimination
All employers should take steps to try to make sure disability discrimination does not happen at work.
As an employer, you should:
- aim for a culture where everyone accepts that disability discrimination is not acceptable
- recognise and promote the benefits of a diverse and inclusive organisation that does not exclude anyone because of disability
Steps for preventing disability discrimination
Many ways to prevent discrimination apply equally to all 'protected characteristics'. You can find out more in our advice on preventing discrimination.
Measures that are specific to preventing disability discrimination include:
- employing and supporting disabled people
- talking about disability
- making the workplace more accessible
- appointing a disability champion
- setting up a staff disability network
- having disability allies
- making sure managers understand their responsibilities
If you're a small organisation with limited resources, there's still a lot you can do to prevent discrimination. Making your organisation more inclusive does not have to be costly or complicated.
Employing and supporting disabled people
If you employ and support disabled people, you can:
- recruit and retain staff who often have more resilience and problem-solving skills through developing ways of living with a disability
- bring new skills to the organisation
- improve staff morale by treating everyone according to their needs
Find out more about:
Talking about disability
You should talk with your staff about appropriate language to use when discussing disability. This includes when you're speaking directly with someone who's disabled and in wider work communications.
Make it clear that ableist language is not acceptable. This means language that's inappropriate, offensive or negative towards disabled people. That includes things some might consider as 'banter' or jokes. You should also be sensitive in the terms you use around disability.
Making the workplace more accessible
Accessibility at work is about removing barriers to make sure disabled people can take an active part in working life.
Employers should make sure their workplace, and the way they work, is accessible to as many people as possible. This includes anywhere staff are working, including working from home.
Appointing a disability champion
A disability champion is a senior member of staff who's committed to promoting equality and tackling disability discrimination. They do not have to be disabled.
They should be:
- willing and able to give time to the role
- senior enough to be able to influence decision-makers and make sure actions are taken
The role could include things like:
- chairing a staff disability network
- following developments in law and good practice
- writing a blog or newsletter to promote equality and diversity
- challenging other senior leaders to consider issues around disability
- raising issues that need addressing at a high level
- considering wider issues that can affect disabled people, for example the covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic
Setting up a staff disability network
A staff disability network is a formal group for disabled staff and their allies to:
- share experiences
- support each other
- raise issues that need addressing
Having disability allies
Disability allies are people who are not disabled and want to help make their organisation inclusive. They can be from any part of an organisation, working at any level.
Disability allies should:
- help raise the profile of issues around disability and how to address and prevent them
- actively listen and try to understand people's experiences
- learn about disability discrimination and use what they learn to influence others
Supporting your staff network and disability roles
If you set up a staff disability network or any disability roles, make sure you support them. This includes:
- giving people the time to be involved
- actively listening to concerns raised
- taking steps to resolve issues
Making sure managers understand their responsibilities
You should make sure managers and supervisors understand their role in supporting disabled people. This includes:
- knowing how to handle a request for reasonable adjustments
- being confident to talk about disability
- being a role model of inclusive behaviour
Get more advice and support
If you need help to deal with any challenges in your organisation, you can: