#DisabilityWorks: Staff costs repaid by hard work

editorial image
0
Have your say

TAKING ON DISABLED STAFF WORKS FOR WILLMOTT DIXON

The #DisabilityWorks campaign aims to show the benefits of employing disabled talent, for tailored recruitment support, go to: Click this link Or call 0114 2760039.

Leigh Garbutt, regional customer and community manager at Willmott Dixon

Leigh Garbutt, regional customer and community manager at Willmott Dixon

If it works for Wilmott Dixon… it can work anywhere

Established in 1852, Wilmott Dixon is privately-owned and one of the biggest construction and property organisations in the UK.

For the past 10 years, it has run an ‘Opening Doors programme’ providing employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Leigh Garbutt, regional customer and community manager at Willmott Dixon Partnerships, says they launched it after realising young disabled people were struggling to get into work when leaving school.

Willmott Dixon's custody suite in Sheffield

Willmott Dixon's custody suite in Sheffield

She said: “In the first year, we took on 91 young people and soon realised that we needed to do the same for people with disabilities who were also struggling to enter world of work.

“Our programme has worked really well and we have taken on five people with disabilities. The joy these particular employees have brought to our organisation has really outweighed any potential financial barriers. “It’s so lovely to take on a young person who genuinely wants to learn and who really wants to be there. We’ve found that those people with disabilities work so hard, as they feel like they have a purpose by working.”

As well as taking on members of staff, the firm also runs programmes with local schools and local authorities and has just finished a community project at a special needs school in Rotherham where we eight students went on work experience.

Leigh added: “This project involved our young apprentices building and decorating a new part of the school, which will now be used to teach students how to live independently.

Willmott Dixon's custody suite in Sheffield

Willmott Dixon's custody suite in Sheffield

“I realise that some employers may have concerns about the costs and potential barriers, but in my opinion, there are only barriers if you as a company are making them.

“We have had to adapt a workstation for one of our employees who couldn’t use her hands, but the amount of work she puts in and her ambition has certainly overridden any of those one-off financial costs.

“If I had any advice to organisations that have been hesitant to take on anyone with a disability, I would say, let them have a go first.

“Maybe give them some work experience and see how it goes. Taking on people with disabilities certainly works for Wilmott Dixon, so if it can work here it can work anywhere. And in all honesty, from my experience you will get more out of taking on someone with a disability than they will, it’s just so rewarding.”

Daniel OBrient

Daniel OBrient

The #DisabilityWorks campaign aims to show the benefits of employing disabled talent, for tailored recruitment support, go to: Click this link Or call 0114 2760039.

DANIEL HAS BIG AMBITIONS

As the facilities support assistant for the NHS Sheffield Clinical Commisioning group, Daniel O’Brient works nearly 19 hours a week.

He has held the job for more than three months and it’s work the bubbly Sheffield lad really enjoys.

Daniel, who has been diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia which affect his fine motor co-ordination, was interviewed for the job after Sheffield City Council referred the CCG to Big Ambitions – a Sheffield group which specialises in vocational support and sustainable employment for individuals with mental health conditions.

A spokesman for Big Ambitions said: “As an employer with strong corporate social responsibility, the CCG was keen to contribute towards Sheffield’s strategy to make employment more accessible to individuals with additional needs.

Holly Dobson, employment solicitor at Wake Smith

Holly Dobson, employment solicitor at Wake Smith

“With our advice, guidance and training, the CCG developed their recruitment practices to make them more accessible to individuals with learning disabilities.

“The post was originally administration duties and housekeeping and facilities support, but we advised that the two sections of the role required different skill sets that could eliminate potential candidates with learning difficulties, so CCG redesigned the role to two 18.75-hour roles.

“We advertised the vacancy and sourced and matched suitable candidates for the role, submitting nine candidates to the CCG, six shortlisted for interview. We devised and delivered bespoke training to the recruitment panel, with the aim of developing an understanding of interviewing potential employees with social and learning barriers and disabilities.”

The #DisabilityWorks campaign aims to show the benefits of employing disabled talent, for tailored recruitment support, go to: Click this link Or call 0114 2760039.

CHEAP CHANGES BRING A WEALTH OF BENEFITS - THE LEGAL POSITION

Holly Dobson, employment solicitor at Wake Smith looks at the benefits and support available for companies wanting to employ one of the 10 million disabled people in the UK.

Under the Equality Act 2010, no employer may treat a disabled person in terms of recruiting, training, promotion, dismissal or redundancy, less favourably, than any other person.

This may mean that in order to take on a disabled employee, or retain one who has become disabled while in work, you need to make reasonable adjustments to enable them to do their job.

In determining what is reasonable, particular regard will be given to what is practicable and the employer’s financial and other resources.

A “disabled person” is legally defined as someone with “a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his/her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.

Normal-day-to-day activities include mobility, manual dexterity, physical co-ordination, continence, ability to lift, carry or otherwise move everyday objects, speaking, hearing, seeing, memory or ability to concentrate, learn or understand, the perception of the risk of physical danger.

Some examples of reasonable adjustments including altering working hours, allowing absences during working hours for medical treatment, giving additional training, getting special equipment or modifying existing equipment and changing instructions or reference manuals.

Most adjustments are simple and low or no cost, such as raising or lowering pieces of furniture or allowing someone to use a car parking space.

Not every disabled person needs sophisticated equipment or support and, if they do, the Government’s Access to Work scheme can help to fund it.

There are a range of tax reliefs for employers who can seek advice from the Fit for Work service, which supports them to retain people when they become sick or develop an impairment.

There is much research to say that disabled people stay in their jobs longer – increasing retention and saving money on recruitment.

Research by the United Nations, the Department of Work and Pensions and major employer B&Q over the last 16 years found disabled people on average have higher retention rates than non-disabled people. And, as an additional bonus, also have higher productivity and better attendance records than their non-disabled colleagues. They also boost workforce morale, increase customer goodwill and are highly committed, motivated, are more punctual and have lower rates of absenteeism.

Research has also found companies employing disabled people were far more positive about employing them than those that hadn’t. The RNIB published a report which revealed that keeping a newly disabled person in employment has a cost benefit of at least two-and-a-half times an employer’s investment.

For advice on employment and disability, contact Holly Dobson on 0114 2666660.

The #DisabilityWorks campaign aims to show the benefits of employing disabled talent, for tailored recruitment support, go to: Click this link Or call 0114 2760039.