The cost of failing to invest in support.

The cost of failing to invest in support.

Tribunal cases based on disability discrimination has increased since 2009.

The Ministry of Justice published their Employment Tribunals and Employment Tribunal Appeal Statistics for 2011 – 12 on the 20th September, 2012.

Although there were 186,300 claims accepted by employment tribunals during 2011-12, there was a 15% fall on the number of cases received and 21% lower than the number in 2009-10.  Although there has been a general year on year decline the number of disability discrimination cases has risen year on year.

Compensation payments awarded by Tribunals for cases with Disability Discrimination Jurisdictions has been one of the highest compensation payments ((Maximum award £390,871) along with race discrimination (Maximum award £4,445,023). 

This has compared to sex discrimination (Maximum award of £89,700), cases of religious discrimination (Maximum award £59,522), sexual orientation (maximum award £27,472), unfair dismissal (Maximum award £173,408), and age discrimination (Maximum award £144,100).

Ann Johnson Director of Shropshire based Wave-length Social Marketing CIC an organisation specialising in disability employment support said ‘This is disappointing reading for several reasons, some employers if honest feel that employing someone with a disability might bring increased absence and possible risk to litigation none of which we would advocate or believe to be true, this might strengthen such feelings.  But what employers sometime fail to consider is that only around 6% of people are born with disabilities, most will gain them in working life, so it is thinking not just about the support to those future employees but for the key staff we already employee who might gain a disability in the future..

People with disabilities can be as capable, reliable and serve as a huge benefit to organisations as everyone else; it’s just sometimes that employers fail to provide the necessary adjustments within the workplace to make this happen.  At Wave-length we believe that whilst there is a legal requirement to apply the Equality Act whatever the size of your business it’s the way you act that makes the difference.

At Wave-length we provide the in-house knowledge and experience needed to mainstream such support and awareness within the organisation reducing the need for on-going training costs to them, but even then organisations say that they are unsure if they can afford the awareness session, what these recently released figures show is that with 7,300 claims at an average compensation claim of £7,000 – £20,000 can they really afford not to improve their awareness? Remembering that the tangible cost is just the tip of the iceberg, fighting such cases take time,

resource and can impact so negatively on the moral of organisation.  So whilst the figures are clearly disappointing it could act as a wakeup call to employers’.

There is much that organisations can do to improve employment practices that support people with disabilities many without cost, that improve the environment for everyone and help organisations employ and retain the best.  Employers might wish to seek support through the Job Centre’s Positive about Disabled People Accreditation, provide improved training to Managers or attend events held by Wave-length where improved knowledge can be gained on supporting people in the workplace.

Wave-length Social Marketing CIC would like to see all organisations deliver on Equality and Diversity, but with resources and budgets being constantly squeezed how do you ensure its delivery?  How do you juggle being more pro-active, aware and more confident to deliver? How do you avoid being re-active, receiving negative PR or litigation?  How do you manage Equality and Diversity so as to make sure people meet their capability, people have the adjustments they need and people take less time off meaning that individuals and the company benefit through achieving targets.  Wave-length would be happy to provide guidance to employers on this.

Wave-length CIC is a profit for purpose organisation based at Telford Enterprise Hub, Hadley Park East, Telford.  We provide awareness training specifically aimed at employment and customer services, working to provide organisations with the skills to deliver such awareness in-house.

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