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Monday 16 March 2020

Disability Survey: 83% feel they've faced barriers at work

By Victoria Jones

FDA Equality Officer Victoria Jones outlines the results of the union’s recent survey of disabled members, and how the FDA will be addressing the concerns raised.


To coincide with Disability History month, which runs across November and December every year, we ran a survey for disabled members and non-members to understand their experiences at work. We received more than 300 responses from civil servants, with some really detailed feedback about their experiences.

Some of the headline data includes:

  • 95% of respondents had told their employer about their disability, health condition or impairment.
  • 83% of respondents felt that they faced barriers or problems at work that could be removed through reasonable adjustments.
  • 11% of respondents had been turned down for disability leave.
  • 28% of respondents felt their employer has treated them unfairly because of their disability-related sickness record.
  • 33% of respondents either agreed, or strongly agreed, with the statement: ‘My manager has judged my performance at work negatively because of my disability, health condition or impairment.’
  • 50% of respondents told us they don’t think they have had equal access to promotion opportunities when compared to the opportunities available to non-disabled colleagues.

Next steps

Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee considered the results of the survey in January and discussed how best to move things forward. They want to focus our work on addressing the concerns members raised in three specific areas:

  1. Reasonable adjustments - we heard from a significant proportion of respondents that the time taken to implement reasonable/workplace adjustments was just too long. We’ll be lobbying centrally to ensure that departments invest in making this process smoother.
  2. Disability leave - we want to raise awareness about what it is, and how it should work so that our members in the workplace know what to expect.
  3. Promotion and development - this was a big issue and it was clear that respondents felt there were significant barriers.


Disability and Leadership

 On 22nd April we’ll be hosting a member-only pilot of a Disability and Leadership seminar. The focus of the day will be on identifying the barriers disabled staff face at work and how we can best remove them. There will also be a chance for members to further influence the work we do in this area. We’re delighted to have secured some excellent speakers including representatives from ACAS and ENEI. Full details and limited tickets are available here.

We know that 2020 is the civil service year of inclusion. As your union we’re focusing on making sure that we make the most of this opportunity to push for change that will really make the working lives of our members better.

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