Disabled members Equalities News

Workplace disability standards a sham says Branch Equalities Officer Kathleen at TUC Disabled Workers' Conference

Kathleen Kennedy
Kathleen Kennedy

The TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference condemned the current schemes to improve disability equality in the workplace and will lobby the UK government to impose transparent and regularly measured disability standards on both public and private sector employers.

Supporting the motion from the Prison Officers’ Association, Branch Equalities Officer and UNISON delegate Kathleen Kennedy, in her maiden conference speech, told delegates that neither the two tick scheme or Disability Confident do anything much to remove barriers for disabled workers or to ensure disabled workers get equal rights.

“They are a sham!” slammed Kathleen.

She told delegates that in 2014, research showed that only 15% of organisations awarded the two ticks symbol adhered to all five of its criteria, with 18% of those signed up not fulfilling any of them and with most organisations  – 38% – only keeping one of the promises.

“Thousands of firms awarded the UK Government’s ‘two ticks’ symbol for equality for disabled workers have been found to be no better than companies who have not achieved it,” said Kathleen.

“Researchers have found that the ‘two ticks positive about disability’ symbol, which is awarded by the Department for Work and Pensions’ Jobcentre Plus to help job applicants identify organisations committed to helping disabled workers, is nothing more than an “empty shell” used by companies as PR and “impression management” rather than a true commitment to equal rights for disability workers,” warned Kathleen.

Disability Confident is faring no better. Launched in 2013 by September 2015 there were only 400 employers had signed up with only 68 active partners and 33 of them are disabled or diversity organisations, added Kathleen.

“Conference if these 2 schemes are just that, schemes there is no reason to do it.
“There is no change for disabled workers in the thousands of employers out there who are doing their best to stop disabled getting jobs and if they do employ one of us, make our working lives as hard as possible!

“ UNISON says we have had enough of your schemes,” said Kathleen.

She called for a duty on Employers to do the right thing for disabled workers, “as they clearly won’t do it voluntarily. We want organisations to be positive about employing disabled workers and to provide good services to disabled people.”