Fitting the pieces together

  Copyright © Buckinghamshire Disability Service 2018. Original design by clients of Community Head Injury Service

No part of this site, is to be copied, reproduced without express permission of BuDS, The Clare Charity Centre, Saunderton, Bucks HP14 4BF

What is a disability?

The Equality Act 2010 defines a disabled person as someone who has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.  This means that they are entitled to the protection against discrimination that the Act provides.

Do I have to disclose an impairment?

You do not have to disclose an impairment in relation to employment. However, the majority of employers and employment services would encourage you to do so. It is in both your interests, as if an employer is not aware of an impairment, they will be unable to make the sorts  of minor  reasonable adjustments which would enable you to do your work properly. By disclosing an impairment in a positive manner (see below), you can avoid misconceptions by your existing or potential employer.

How can I disclose my disability in a positive way?

You can be positive by giving  examples of how you overcome your difficulties, being honest and focusing on your abilities and what you can do. You can also provide them with  information on your disability to raise their awareness and let them know that you are supported by a local service.

Where do I get employment-related advice?

If you are already in employment, the Citizens Advice  may be able to help. Alternatively, if you are a member of a Trade Union, they may be able to help.

What external help is available?

Access to Work is a specialist Scheme from the JobCentre which offers advice and practical support to both disabled people and their employers.   It aims to provide support to disabled people whose impairment or health condition affects their ability to do a job or means that they have to pay work-related costs.  

Work Choice [LINK to page] is a scheme for disabled people who are experiencing complex barriers to work, who cannot be helped by other JobcentrePlus programmes.  

What are an employer’s responsibilities under the Equality Act?

Disabled people share the same general employment rights as other workers, but there are also some special provisions for them under the Equality Act 2010 so that they do not suffer a substantial disadvantage because of their impairment. One important aspect of this is the right to ”reasonable adjustments” being made to the workplace in order to assist a disabled person  perform their duties effectively.  This may be as simple as modifying work tasks, providing aids, adjusting hours or making changes to the work environment itself.  Should an adjustment have financial implications it may be possible for them to get help via the Access to Work scheme

If I disclose my impairment do I gain protection under the Equality Act?

Yes. An employer needs to know about your impairment so that they can make reasonable adjustments and ensure that they are adhering to the law.

What are an employer’s responsibilities under the Equality Act?

 One important aspect of this is the right to reasonable adjustments being made to the workplace in order to assist a person with a disability to perform their duties. More information of the Equality Act can be found here.

What help is available if I become disabled during my working life?

If you wish to remain in employment, your employer must make reasonable adjustments, where necessary, to enable you to stay in your position or a similar one.  Help and expertise is available from a number of sources.
Should you become unemployed there are various Social Security benefits available through the Department for Work and Pensions. There are also local services which can support you back into employment.

Will my  social security benefits be affected by my starting work?

Assuming eligibility, DLA and its replacement PIP,  are payable whether or not you are working, as they are intended to address the additional costs that an impairment imposes on going about normal life.

The position for ESA, is different, however, and generally, a disabled person is not entitled to this in any week in which they work, whether or not they expect to be paid for it, as they will be regarded as capable of work.  However, an important exception to this is what is called “permitted work”, which allows a person to try out work within certain limits. 

Income-related or means-tested benefits, are likely to be affected by starting work, as this is likely to affect the circumstances of the person concerned.  A person in receipt of Universal Credit is allowed to work and keep some of their earnings up to a certain limit before their Universal Credit is affected. Earnings in excess of this limit, the “work allowance” – which depends on an individual’s circumstances – will reduce their Universal Credit by 65 pence in the pound.

Can I do voluntary work and still claim benefits?

If you are in receipt of ESA, you may do voluntary work for anyone other than a relative without affecting your benefit, as long as you are not being paid, other than expenses “reasonably incurred in connection with that work.”  These could include travel and meals, or child minding, for example.  There is no limit on the number of hours you can volunteer.