Fear of repercussions holds back employees from sharing information about disability with bosses

Kate Nash OBE

Kate Nash OBE

The main reason why employees do not share information about their disability with their employer is fear over repercussions, either now or in the future, according to a hard-hitting new report on the challenges of ‘declaration’ and ‘disclosure’ of disability in the workplace.

“Secrets & Big News”, launched by Kate Nash Associates and newly available at Amazon, is the result of a two-year project involving 55 employers and over 2,500 disabled employees.

The research revealed that 60% of respondents who had not shared information about their disability with their employer were worried about repercussions. Employees in the public sector are more fearful of repercussions (68%) than staff in the private sector (50%). Some 57% of staff who did share information about their disability needed their employer to make an adjustment for them.

The report’s author, Kate Nash OBE, said that the language around disclosure and declaration, in terms of disability at work, needed to change.

“Having a disability or health condition should not be likened to something akin to a secret or a big piece of news,” said Nash. “Ditch the language of ‘disclosure’ and ‘declaration’ and adopt that of enabling performance.”

Other findings in the study include:

  • 34% of the 55 employers surveyed did not know how many disabled employees they employed
  • 73% of employers surveyed formally monitor the number of disabled employees they employ
  • 36% of respondents suggest it is a big personal step to associate yourself with the word disability

The report outlines 15 ‘Big Ideas’ for employers about how they can make it easier for their staff to share information about their disability and 15 ‘Big Ideas’ to disabled people about how to be more disability confident themselves. Case studies include BT, Lloyds Banking Group, Shell and the Civil Service.

The report builds on the government’s recent Disability Confident campaign and engagement with employers across the UK.

Minister for Disabled People Mike Penning said the government wants to do more to help disabled people to get in and get on in the workplace – “feeling comfortable about talking to an employer is a key part of this”.

“The employment rate for disabled people has increased gradually over the years and disabled people are moving into jobs, training or work placements at a rate of more than 100 placements every working day,” said Penning. “Through our Disability Confident campaign, we are challenging the myths around the complexities of hiring disabled people and encouraging both businesses and disabled people to take advantage of our Access to Work scheme – which helps with extra costs such as travel, specially adapted equipment and support workers.”

The Advisory Board of Secrets & Big News includes representatives from Lloyds Banking Group, Business Disability Forum, Business in the Community, BT, Shell, Metropolitan Police Service, Coca Cola, and the Civil Service Disability Network. The funders include PWC, Metropolitan Police Service, Microlink, Post Office Ltd and BT.

“Secrets & Big News: Enabling People to be Themselves at Work” is available at Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Secrets-Big-News-Enabling-themselves/dp/0992898404

To view the Executive Summary of the research findings of ‘Secrets & Big News’, please click this link




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