Employers must learn to value the disabledOn 28 Nov 2000 in Personnel Today When theDisability Discrimination Act was launched, the workplace was a key target andthe new law replaced a quota system that employers had ignored for decades. The thenTory Government was turning to the stick because it was clear that appealing tothe better nature of employers had failed. Four yearson, no less a figure than Prime Minister Tony Blair is set to launch a newinitiative for the Disability Rights Commission. The new campaign will askemployers to set an example by committing themselves to hitting targets toreduce discrimination. Is thislatest move a tacit admission that the Disability Discrimination Act has notworked? The legislation has not led to a sea-change in how employers view thedisabled – a recent survey showed four out of five had never even heard of theAct. And thecase law that has emerged from the Act, and which has given headaches to manypersonnel professionals, has not provided definitive answers to the fundamentalproblems in the Act – the difficulty of deciding what is “reasonable”discrimination and of defining who is disabled.What canbe done? First, the law should be amended so that it is clear that employersare only justified in discriminating against the disabled when the individualcannot perform the essential functions of the job or is a health and safetyhazard. However, no legislation in this grey area is ever going to be a perfectinstrument. Ultimatelyit is up to good employers to lead a culture change in the workplace. The pastrecord of UK companies is poor, but the latest initiative offers an opportunityto create a future where disabled people are included and valued – and that canonly be good for business. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.