Prospect is committed to fighting for equality of opportunity for all our members. In the context of disability equality, we believe that all workplaces, and society generally, will benefit from an inclusive environment.
We believe that people are disabled by the barriers that stand in the way of their participation in society and in the workplace. These barriers can be physical and attitudinal and by tackling them we can ensure full participation, to everyone's benefit. This is the social model that we encourage our representatives to adopt in their workplace negotiations.
The Equality Act includes a public sector duty to promote disability equality and eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability. Although it only applies in the public sector, we are encouraging all our representatives to ensure that the good practice associated with implementing this new duty is introduced in all workplaces.
The union provides advice and guidance to members and representatives in promoting equality for disabled members and tackling disability discrimination in the workplace. This includes:
- understanding what reasonable adjustments may be required in the workplace
- ensuring that absence management policies take account of individuals' disabilities where necessary
- negotiating a period of disability leave, to enable the employee and employer to adjust where an individual has become disabled or their disability changes in some way
- ensuring that employers take account of disabilities issues in all their policies, such as recruitment and retention, promotion, training, redeployment, redundancy situations.
Prospect's guidance and briefings on disability issues can be downloaded from the resources below (or the Resources page to the left).
Prospect encourages disabled members to participate at all levels of the union. We have a disabled members' network which seeks comments on proposals by the union and employers, and updates members about appropriate courses and campaigns. Members of the network can contact and support each other. The network is an important source of expertise for Prospect. See the terms of reference on the main equalities page.
Access all areas
Prospect organises a number of conferences, seminars, training courses and other events both at national, regional and branch level. We have both a moral and legal obligation under the Equality Act to ensure that we deliver our services to disabled members in a way that does not discriminate against them.
Prospect can provide our national publications in accessible formats. For more information, go to: http://www.prospect.org.uk/resources_and_publications/accessibility
Prospect has produced a negotiator's guide to disability equality which focuses on workers' rights under the legislation. As well as providing valuable ammunition for reps when dealing with personal cases, it provides the impetus to get disability issues on the negotiating agenda
An equality briefing has been published which provides detailed guidance on disability discrimination and appraisal & performance systems.
There is also a briefing detailing Prospect resources to promote disability equality.
The social model of disability
Prospect agrees with the TUC and the disabled people's movement that people are disabled by the barriers that stand in the way of their participation in society and in the workplace . These barriers can be physical and attitudinal , and by tackling them we can ensure full participation, to everyone's benefit. This is the social model which negotiators and representatives should adopt in their workplace negotiations. The social model is based on what disabled people can do rather than what they cannot do. The TUC has produced a guide Trade Unions and Disabled Members: Why the social model matters .
A Manifesto for Disability Equality
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) on the advice of its disabled members has published a Manifesto to promote support for the steps needed to achieve equality for millions of disabled people in Britain and elsewhere who face discrimination, poverty and prejudice. The Manifesto is not a wish list, but a call to action.
The Manifesto sets out, briefly, the key policy demands needed to achieve disability equality. To help trade unionists and others to win the arguments and to gain supporters from the manifesto, a guide for activists has also been published: Using the TUC Manifesto for Disability Equality: a guide for trade union activists.
Disability and Employment
Disability and Employment is a TUC report, using the social model of disability to study the employment experiences of disabled people in Great Britain, with a particular focus on people with a mental illness.
This report shows that disabled people consistently fare worse in employment than non-disabled people. A number of factors can aggravate these negative outcomes, including the dual discrimination faced by disabled women or the especially pronounced disadvantage faced by people with mental health problems due to inflexible workplaces and ignorance about their impairments.
However, the good news is that there is a lot that can be done to help counteract and reduce artificial barriers to employment.
Sickness absence and disability
The TUC has published advice for union negotiators on the law and good practice in dealing with disability related absences from work. Included in the guidance is a recommendation that disability leave agreements are part of the solution. Sickness absence and disability discrimination.
Pre-employment health questions
The Equality Act 2010 introduced a new provision whereby employers may not ask applicants for employment about their health or any disability before selecting them to interview or offering them a job. There are very limited exceptions and we have produced guidance for our equality and health & safety representatives.
Trade unions and disabled people fighting austerity
The TUC has published a briefing on trade unions and disabled people fighting austerity. It contains a summary of key facts as well as suggestions for action by unions campaigning on austerity, encouraging alliances with disabled activists and an inclusive approach. Many trade union members are among those who have fallen for government lies about benefits scroungers, with particular negative impact on many disabled people. This briefing aims to address these issues and should be used widely by reps and branches.
Supporting members with invisible impairments
Most disabled people do not have visible signs of impairment, such as the use of a mobility aid. And if a person’s impairment is not visibly obvious, their right to reasonable adjustments to aid their access to work may not be as readily recognised. In some cases, a person’s impairment may even be treated with disbelief by colleagues and managers.
The TUC guide You Don’t Look Disabled provides information on: the role that trade unions can play; the equality laws that support disabled workers; and case studies that show how problems can be addressed to stop or prevent discrimination.
Responsibility for overseeing the Equality Act to eliminate discrimination against disabled people lies with the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Prospect has joined the Trade Union Disability Alliance, which is a campaigning organisation for disabled trade union members.
An Access to Work grant can pay for practical support if you have a disability, health or mental health condition to help you start working and stay in work. Factsheets for customers have been produced on YouTube.
The Multiple Sclerosis Society has published Working with MS, a guide for individuals and employers on good practice in the employment of people with MS. There is also a very useful FAQ on employment and MS. The society also has a helpline number for anyone affected by MS: 0808 800 8000.
Equality Briefings and Resources
Equality Briefings provide advice and guidance on a range of equalities issues and a Briefing has been produced with links to Prospect's resources for equality, including our guides, posters and leaflets etc.