Work and disability

Of the working-age people with disabilities in the UK, almost half are employed – but this figure should be higher. With the right support, many more could join their ranks.

If you have a disability, you may be worried that it will limit your job prospects or that you won't be able to find work.

But there's lots of guidance, support and training to help you into employment. Government-backed schemes can help, while awareness-raising initiatives are challenging the stereotypes about people with disabilities to ensure that everyone has a fair chance of working.

The charity Leonard Cheshire Disability runs an internship scheme called Change100, which brings together the UK's top employers and talented disabled students.

Watch videos and read personal stories from three Change100 role models who have benefited from the scheme.

Find out more about how Leonard Cheshire Disability supports disabled people looking for work.

Know your rights

Whatever your physical or learning disability, you have a right to equality, fairness, respect and understanding at your workplace.

Employees and jobseekers with disabilities are legally protected against discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. You're legally entitled to fair treatment when it comes to recruitment, promotion and pay. It also means that employers must make their workplaces accessible to you.

It's now recognised that working has health benefits. The government has pledged to help employers and the medical profession work together to get people with disabilities into work.

The GOV.UK website outlines the help available in looking for work if you're disabled, which contains advice on looking for work, work schemes, support while you're in work, and employment rights.

Your local jobcentre can arrange an interview with a disability employment adviser, who is specially trained to help disabled people find suitable jobs. To find your nearest centre, see GOV.UK: Contact Jobcentre Plus.

GOV.UK also has details of the "two ticks" scheme for disabled people. Employers that adopt this initiative take a positive approach to disability, and offer interviews to all disabled applicants who meet the minimum job criteria. Look out for the two ticks symbol on websites and job application forms.

Find out more about your rights at work with a long-term condition.

Government support for disabled working

There are two government schemes to help you find suitable work: access to work and work choice.

Access to work

Access to work is a scheme that provides money towards the cost of equipment or support workers that can help enable you to work. You can find out more by reading the information on GOV.UK about access to work.

Work choice

Work choice is a scheme that helps people with disabilities who can't be helped by other work schemes. It can provide you and your employers with support. Find out more on GOV.UK: about work choice.

How employers can help disabled people

Dave Parr is a project worker with Disability Champions at Work, a TUC-backed organisation. He says that stereotypes about people with disabilities can be the biggest barrier between you and getting a job.

"The way to stop this is to educate people with meaningful disability awareness training," he says.

If you're disabled or become disabled while in work, your employer should help you to stay in your job. Changes that your employer should consider – in consultation with you – include:

  • transferring you to another post
  • making changes to your place of work
  • providing a reader or interpreter

You can learn more about the recruitment process for people with disabilities from an employer's point of view and preventing discrimination on GOV.UK. Trade unions can also provide support.

Parr says: "In five years, Disability Champions at Work has recruited more than 600 representatives who champion disabled people's rights in the workplace.

"They've made a huge difference to the working lives of many people, and raised disability as a trade union issue."

Motor neurone disease Julie's story

Julie has motor neurone disease. Find out how she copes with this incurable condition, and how she finds the strength to continue working as a primary school teacher. Sadly, since the making of this film, Julie Genovese has died.

Media last reviewed: 20/08/2013

Next review due: 20/08/2015

Page last reviewed: 30/04/2014

Next review due: 30/04/2016

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