Getting Ticks is Easy, So be Careful

This is the system, the two ticks, that states the Government, administered through the Job Centre Plus, which is known for its high quality of services itself (sorry I nearly choked on those words), have decided an employer is “positive about employing a disabled person”. To obtain these so called “quality benchmark” an employers has to make five commitments:

1. To interview all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for a job vacancy and to consider them on their abilities (This is law anyway, not to do so is illegal)
2. To discuss with disabled employees, at any time but at least once a year, what both parties can do to make sure disabled employees can develop and use their abilities (one would hope all employees have this opportunity at least once a year)
3. To make every effort when employees become disabled to make sure they stay in employment (again not to do so would breach discrimination laws and would be illegal)
4. To take action to ensure that all employees develop the appropriate level of disability awareness needed to make these commitments work (Ok this one is cool)
5. To review these commitments each year and assess what has been achieved, plan ways to improve on them and let employees and Job Centre Plus know about progress and future plans (oh please, this is such a paper exercise)
So write 5 policies, and there you have it, the Government classes an employer as positive about disability, you can download these policies off the internet to make it even easier.

Well having two ticks to represent an employer is positive about disability, the whole ridiculous scheme, is limp at best when the only action is to have 5 policies and perhaps include some disability awareness literature in an employee’s induction pack – job done – limp!

So what about putting in some real standards, that would actually make a positive difference, how radicle would that be, OMG a scheme that makes it positive to employ disabled people – how utterly ridiculous of me to think of such a thing. So let’s try these standards:
1. 25% of the workforce has to be registered disabled and qualifies for Disability Living Allowance or Access to Work
2. A disabled person in receipt of Disability Living Allowance must have a Non-Executive Director position on every company’s Board of Directors
3. Every company under the scheme would be actually inspected and examined to evidence they are positive about disability, which will only be done by people with disabilities

Companies that are compliant with the scheme can not only wear the symbol of quality with pride but there will be tax relief on the NI for every person they employ who are in receipt of Access to Work or Disability Living Allowance.

This has to be better than the current online system where an employer can send the right policies but there is no real validation at all, all they have to do is say the right thing, write the right waffle, and then even the BNP would get two blasted ticks – an inert and inept system that actually makes no difference at all.

You want to be given a positive about disability mark of quality, prove how you support disabled people enter, be developed, sustained and able to achieve their maximum contribution to the work place. Let’s not have any more lip service to a nonsense scheme, deliver actual hard evidence for the inspectors to see, produce the actual people with disabilities you have employed, these are the people the inspectors want to hear from, not from HR trying to charm and smarm their way to have ticks (and I can’t think of any group I would rather have ticks – actually I can but that’s for another blog), the people within your company with disabilities are the evidence, the credibility, the true quality of your commitment.

If we were to organise this scheme it should be a yearly scheme, where the company is inspected every year and vigorously inspected for actual evidence and validity to warrant granting the two ticks again, prove the advances you have made in support of disabled people, standing still and resting on your laurels once the ticks are awarded is not acceptable, getting the ticks is the first step.

And, and this is the bit that bugs me most, not only is it a completely ineffective and futile system of incompetence, it’s blinking voluntary anyway. Why not enshrine the system we have outlined in law, make it compulsory and make employers take on disabled employees, have we not learnt from the Paralympics? People with disabilities are amongst the most capable, determined, driven people you could employ; just to get to work has meant they may have had to climb physical and emotional mountains. All the statistics show that if you employ, encourage, support and invest in a disabled employee, they are the employees least likely to move on; showing the highest levels of loyalty and often have the lowest absenteeism records too. So instead of making it law to take people and demonstrating one’s enthusiasm to show disability in a positive, supporting light, Vince Cable makes it easier for employers to get rid of employees on performance grounds, and you think employers won’t use this to cut back on additional costs Vince?!?!

Instead make it law Vince to actually have a minimum percentage of employee population to be disabled and in receipt of Access to work or Disability Living Allowance. Encourage employment Vince, don’t make it easier to get rid of people, stimulate the employment market positively, don’t add more into the unemployment figures.

No more excuses, no more ridiculous inept systems delivering two ticks for nothing, employers need to do far more to then be able to rightly shout about them being Positive About Disability, those that don’t should be financially penalised for not doing enough, and tax benefits for those that do reach an inspected standard. The Paralympics showed us that you cannot just hope things get better; the Games showed us you have to make positive change happen. Did Lord Coe just wait for things to happen? No, he and his team fought for 6 years to deliver the best Olympic and Paralympic Games – now we need to make employers become Positive About Disability. It is time to make our commercial environments world leaders in the engagement of people with disability, showcase to the world how it should be done, the Games showed us the way, so let’s do it.