Employers argue for strong disability law
Sunday 03 September 1995
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.
- 1 Kermit the Frog has a new girlfriend named Denise
- 2 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 3 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 4 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 5 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
The one chart that shows how George Osborne is almost certainly going to be our next Prime Minister
The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
Three-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish children told 'the non-Jews' are 'evil' in worksheet produced by London school
Bono's group has made more money from Facebook investment than from all his music
Wikipedia rocked by 'rogue editors' blackmail scam targeting small businesses and celebrities
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
iJobs Money & Business
£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are a vibrant and establishe...