29/11/2002

Advice booklet offers disability rights guidance for employers

A new guidance booklet has been launched that aims to advise employers on how to address the inequalities that some employees with disabilities experience in relation to health and safety in the workplace.

The booklet – entitled 'Balancing Disability Rights and Health and Safety Requirements' – is the first of its kind in the UK, and provides practical information to enable employers to balance disability rights and satisfy health and safety requirements.

As it has been estimated that almost half the workplace adjustments for disabled people can cost less than £50, it does not make economic sense for organisations to lose employees with valuable skills and experience, when they could perhaps be retained by a more flexible approach to rehabilitation being adopted.

As well as clarifying the requirements of both disability and health and safety legislation, the guide describes, through practical case studies, how positive outcomes can be achieved by making the necessary adjustments to accommodate disabled persons in the workplace.

Welcoming the publication of the guide, Joan Harbinson, Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission, said: "The Disability Discrimination Act does not require employers to do anything which would be contrary to the health and safety laws. It is important, however, that employers give full consideration to how they can make reasonable adjustments in their workplace or in working arrangements to enable a disabled person to remain in work – and to work in safety."

She added: "This guide contains specific advice on how to balance disability rights with health and safety requirements. It will meet an immediate need for many employers."

(CL)

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