Helping line managers become disability confident

New guidance for line managers from the Department for Work and Pensions and the CIPD on making workplaces more inclusive for those with a disability or health condition

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Last week the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), in collaboration with the CIPD, published its good practice guide for line managers on recruiting, managing and developing people with a disability or health condition. The guide is part of the DWP’s Disability Confident scheme, and includes tips for managers on practical matters such as helping colleagues feel comfortable talking about disability in the workplace.

The guide clearly outlines the business case for recruiting and developing those with disabilities. For instance, there are around seven million working age people with a disability or long-term health condition in the UK, yet only around one half of them are in work. Businesses cannot afford to ignore this huge pool of untapped talent, especially given the ageing population and the likelihood that a significant proportion of the workforce will develop a health condition or disability. Through a positive and inclusive approach to managing disability, organisations can reap the benefit of increased loyalty and commitment from staff. It also makes commercial sense, as top businesses seek to reflect the make-up of their consumer base in their workforce — disabled customers and their families have a spending power worth £249 billion.

The government has also launched a Voluntary Reporting framework, which encourages employers to report the steps they are taking to support their disabled employees and promote employee health and well-being. It also provides support for employers on reporting the percentage of individuals in their organisation who have a disability, or a long-term physical or mental health condition.

The guidance provides practical advice to line managers on a host of key issues, including: 

  • attracting a wide range of talent
  • welcoming new starters and creating an accessible induction
  • the day-to-day management of employees with a disability or health condition 
  • the duty to make reasonable adjustments
  • disclosure and confidentiality 
  • an effective framework for retaining people 
  • managing performance and development 
  • career progression 
  • further sources of information and support.
People managers play a crucial role in supporting people with a disability or health condition to thrive at work. This guidance provides the practical information and tools line managers need to be both confident and competent to have sensitive conversations, intervene when needed, and ensure the right adjustments are in place. At the CIPD, we believe the positive impact this can have on building inclusive workplaces with engaged and productive employees is extensive and far-reaching.

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