Summary: Our findings
Participants told us that the most effective and positive approaches were demonstrated by employers and staff that:
- embrace reasonable adjustments
- fight the disabled person’s corner
- are approachable, understanding and open to suggestions
- think of practical solutions.
Through following our participants’ experiences of entering the workplace, we found:
Job searches are longer for disabled people
Job searches can be long, with some participants applying for hundreds of jobs before finding work. Participants highlighted a negative view of gaps in employment history due to health conditions.
Tailored support is most effective
Participants highlighted that personalised support was most effective at meeting their needs.
Employment support provided by the Jobcentre produced polarised views.
Charities also offered sources of support. These were particularly effective when tailored to the individual.
Talking about impairments and conditions can be difficult
For people with a visible impairment, talking about their impairment or condition wasn’t a choice. Others made the decision based on how they felt work would view their impairment. Sharing and accepting people's impairments created the most positive experience.
Attitudes of staff are vital
Attitudes of staff played a vital role in a successful start to employment.
Managers were important in getting support for disabled workers. But both managers and colleagues played a crucial role.
Reasonable adjustments are crucial
For some disabled people, there are essential adjustments that are needed to do their jobs.
But, there was often uncertainty over what adjustments are ‘reasonable’. Delays with the Access to Work scheme meant many disabled people started work without the support they needed. Many ended up paying for adjustments themselves.
These issues had more impact on the participants with higher support needs.
Our participants all have a job now. Their experiences of their current employers are generally positive.
We will look to see how their employment journey progresses over the course of the study.