Awareness of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) among employers has fallen since 2006, according to a new government report.
The report, Organisations’ Responses to the Disability Discrimination Act, says the number of employers who were aware of the recruitment and employment measures in the DDA fell from 80 to 76 per cent. And only a fifth of employers were able to “spontaneously name the DDA”.
There was also a fall in the number of employers who had made a workplace adjustment for a disabled employee or planned to do so, from 70 to 61 per cent.
Maria Miller, the minister for disabled people, said that legislation “sends an important message to employers, but legislation alone is not enough”.
She said: “Most employers recognise that employing disabled people is the ‘right thing to do’. We need even more employers understanding that employing disabled people makes real business sense too.”
The report also found there was a fall in the proportion of providers of goods and services that had made an adjustment to their service – such as providing a ramp or accessible toilet for disabled customers – from 87 per cent to 80 per cent since the previous survey in 2006.
The survey was carried out for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) by the Institute for Employment Studies and Ipsos Mori in the autumn of 2009, and coincided with the economic downturn.
Employers said the recession had not yet had an impact on their ability to make adjustments for disabled employees, but some feared it might do so in the future.
Although 16 per cent of employers said last autumn that the recession had affected their ability to employ disabled people, nearly three-quarters of this group said this was because they had stopped recruitment altogether, while just 14 per cent of them said it was because they could not afford to make workplace adjustments.
The report – based on 2,000 telephone interviews and 97 in-depth interviews – says some providers of goods and service had been badly affected by the recession, “but many thought that this would not affect their services to disabled customers”.
Only two of the service providers interviewed in-depth said the recession might alter what they saw as “reasonable” in making adjustments, while “in a few cases” the recession was “already thought to have had an impact on the adjustments being made”, particularly with more costly physical adaptations to buildings.