Chloe Jeps’ letter (26 December) on Britain’s lost workforce and discrimination in the workplace was very informative. However, there is no mention of disability. About 20% of UK adults have some form of disability. Only 50% of adults with disabilities are in paid employment. This is mainly not because they don’t want to work, but because they can’t access their workplaces and practically no reasonable adjustments can be made. There are few legal remedies and limited support for persons with disabilities to assert their legal rights.
Employers often design workplaces to be as inaccessible as possible, especially in low-paying jobs. There are few places to sit, few breaks, and few opportunities to use the toilet. Employers should improve and design processes for people with disabilities first, not last. This should be true for all employers, big and small, regardless of prestige.
Governments should step up scrutiny of employment discrimination and strengthen regulatory action against businesses that do not comply with laws already in place. Currently, the only remedies are through employment tribunals or civil litigation. The Equality Act is not an additional option, but employers treat it as such.
Governments should reform punitive benefit schemes and provide support instead. Currently, people have to do business only with the Ministry of Labor and Pensions. If they stop treating people with disabilities like criminals and remove fear, they can provide support and advice to access employment.
This hinges on the current Conservative government acting with compassion and intelligence, so the odds are about as good as an Olympic medal. Lettuce had more endurance than Liz Truss. I suspect that the contents of my salad drawer are more capable of intellectual thought and empathy than Rishi Sunak and cabinets.