Employers argue for strong disability law

TALK of any attempt to improve the lot of disadvantaged sections of society gcnerally has business up in arms. If industrialists are personally in favour of legislation, they are liable to object to the cost and interference. It is perhaps surprising, then, to find a significant number of companies broadly in favour of the Disability Discrimination Bill due to become law later this year.

During its lengthy passage through Parliament, the Bill has fallen victim to various attempts to characterise it as another piece of Brussels-style regulation with Draconian requirements that hard-pressed businesses will find diffcult to meet. But the members of the Employers' Forum on Disability believe the proposed legislation should go further, not be watered down.

While it would perhaps be naive to suggest that their motivations are necessarily the same as those of the interest groups that have made well- publicised attacks on the Bill at various stages, they do share concerns about the effectiveness of the planned law.

In particular, they believe that the proposal to establish a National Disability Council to run alongside the existing National Advisory Council on the Employment of People with Disabilities will weaken rather than strengthen the position of the disabled.

They say that not only would this idea split responsibility for Britain's 6.2 million disabled people, it also suffers from the fact that - under the Bill - the advisory council does not have the same remit to help the public as the analogous Equal Opportunities Commission and the Commission for Racial Equality. Moreover, the NDC's proposed budget is only about pounds 250,000, compared with pounds 6m for the EOP and pounds 15m for the CRE.

Cynics might feel that this would favour employers. But the forum argues that it is not as simple as that. Without clearly defined legislation, say the employers, confusion will reign and unnecessary litigation will surely follow. Moreover, lawyers point out that since disability is much more open to interpretation than race or gender, there is room for greater contention even without confusion in the legislation.

The Employers' Forum on Disability is concerned about these issues because in recent years its members have made great strides in helping people with a variety of disabilities find work in their organisations. Working in association with the Prince of Wales' Advisory Group on Disability and in close partnership with Business in the Community, it is a non-profit company funded by members that aims to improve the job prospects of disabled people by making it easier for companies to recruit, retain and develop disabled employees.

Among its initiatives are the publication of such booklets as Welcoming Disabled Customers and Working with Disabled Constituents: A Guide for MPs. In 1992, it drew up an Employers' Agenda on Disability, which spells out what needs to be done if equal opportunities policies are really to include Britain's 2.4 million disabled of working age. So far 50 organisations employing more than 650,000 people have signed up for the agenda and its 10 points for action. Employers as varied as the Bank of England and Birmingham City Council are involved in such programmes as disability awareness training and installing braille printers.

For others, though, the effects of the Bill - which is expected to receive the Royal Assent in November - promise to be somewhat further-reaching.

Bus companies, for instance, would be required to make their all their vehicles accessible to wheelchair users, and much attention has been paid to the scale of this undertaking for London Transport.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
News
people
Extras
indybest
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

BA/PM,EMIR/Dodd-Frank,London,£450-650P/D

£450 - £650 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Senior Analyst - ALM Data - Banking - Halifax

£350 - £400 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Analyst, ALM Data, Halifax, ...

Java developer - Banking - London - Up to £600/day

£500 - £600 per day: Orgtel: Java developer - Banking - London - Up to £600/d...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash