Increasing Disability Confidence in SMEs

Our new report has found that 1 in 3 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) do not employ anyone with a disability, or are not aware that they do. This is despite 93% of these organisations having an Equal Opportunities policy. Our report, Increasing Disability Confidence in SMEs, focuses on employers across Yorkshire and the wider North East region.

With most (99%) of UK employers falling into the SME definition (250 employees or fewer), and SMEs accounting for more than 60% of all UK employment, these results suggest a significant portion of the labour market is still inaccessible to people with disabilities or long-term health conditions.

3.9 million people with a disability are currently working in the UK - but millions more who want the opportunity to work, and have valuable skills and experience to offer, are limited by the opportunities available to them.

Four key challenges identified by SMEs are discussed in our report. These themes were uncovered during 250 survey responses and ten depth interviews with contacts at these organisations.

Respondents highlighted a lack of knowledge on disability and employment issues, capability doubts, challenges with making adjustments and worries about employee absenteeism as their primary concerns when considering employer more people with disabilities or health conditions.

Reed in Partnership delivers Better Working Futures - our name for the government’s Work and Health Programme - across Yorkshire and the wider North East region. The service gives jobseekers who face additional barriers to finding work the best support available. It forms part of a wider package or support for disabled people announced by the government and aims to bring jobseekers, support provision and employers together to provide greater opportunities for those looking for work.

David Royle, Operations Manager for the service in West Yorkshire, said:

“Employers typically are unaware of the support we can provide to them if they employ someone with a disability, but part of our provision is supporting both the employee and employer with Access To Work applications and Reasonable Adjustments within the workplace.

“We know that employees with a disability, who work for employers who are understanding of their health condition, show increased loyalty to their employer which in turn creates higher levels of sustainable employment.”

“We hope that this report will contribute to a discussion about how more can be done to support people with disabilities to access and sustain meaningful work.”

Reed in Partnership is an accredited Disability Confident Leader and is committed to encouraging other organisations to register for the scheme at The government’s Disability Confident scheme helps employers recruit and retain disabled people. The scheme provides them with the confidence, skills and tools they need, challenges misconceptions, increases understanding of both mental and physical conditions and helps them make the most of the talents and insights disabled people can bring to their workforces.

The Work and Health Programme is comissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions and co-funded by the European Social Fund.

You can download our full report below.

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Increasing Disability Confidence in SMEs