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Businesses can play a big part in improving the lives of people with disabilities. Small and medium-sized businesses account for 99.9% of the business population and account for three-fifths of the employment and around half of turnover in the UK private sector.1
14.6 million people in the UK have a disability which represents 22% of the population and includes 21% of working age adults.2 By taking your obligations to them seriously, you recognise their importance as employees, customers and a significant part of our communities. You’ll also:
We’ve partnered with the Business Disability Forum to create this guide. Drawing on our own experiences, it shows why disability matters for businesses and provides tools and insights to support affected employees and improve the environment for everyone.
Anyone who runs a small or medium-sized business knows that recruiting and retaining top talent is not easy. By encouraging applications from people with disabilities, your business can source high-quality applicants. You’ll also acquire new skills and a greater diversity of thinking. After all, people who have a disability now represent over 1 in 5 of the UK’s working population.2
Your business could also benefit from retaining a valued employee who acquires an impairment. It can be easier than recruiting and training new staff and better for the individual. This matters in a world where 83% of people who have a disability weren’t born with it.
But there’s a broader context. Small and medium-sized businesses are likely to serve a local customer base that includes people with disabilities. By reflecting that diversity, you can better understand and support their needs – particularly as 75% of disabled people and their families say they have taken their custom elsewhere because of poor accessibility and customer service.3 It is vital that businesses feel equipped to support all their employees’ needs. Only then can your people fulfil their potential.
According to the Equality Act 2010 - a person has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
Many people do not define themselves as disabled based on the legal definition. This has led organisations to adopt an approach known as the social model of disability.5 It argues that people are disabled due to society's barriers and focuses on removing them. As a business, you are advised to (a) identify these barriers, and (b) remove them wherever possible.
The following suggestions help with inclusion and are the right things to do for anyone experiencing challenges.
Remove the barriers
The Equality Act requires businesses to make reasonable adjustments for people who have disabilities by removing barriers to their participation at work. It applies whether you are informed of an employee’s disability or suspect it.
Promote positive and open interaction
Encourage equality of opportunity and positive relationships between disabled and other staff. Do it through open conversations about disability and the support available. Let your employees know this is important to your business and your culture.
Operate an inclusive recruitment and retention process
Your business will then benefit from a diverse range of applicants and talent. You’ll also benefit from the additional skills and insight employees who have disabilities can offer.
Promote effective people management
Train line managers to support employees with disabilities by ensuring they understand the support available and have clear processes in place. Managers are confident to have sensitive conversations around adjustments needed and understand the importance of regular review to ensure they remain fit for purpose.
Provide ongoing support
Build business processes that support people with disabilities at every stage of their employment. It should start when you hire and onboard them and continue through their employment, development and advancement.
Support employees who care for someone with a disability
Carers of people with disabilities also have protections under the Equality Act. Be prepared to have open conversations about their needs for adjustment to allow them to carry out required caring responsibilities, such as considering flexible working for them as an adjustment.
An inclusive recruitment and retention process
Whether recruiting internally or externally, we interview any suitable candidate with a disclosed disability, who meets the minimum requirement of the role. This reassures applicants that we won’t preclude them from the process.
Making reasonable adjustments
We uphold the legal duty to remove barriers for our colleagues because we believe it is the right thing to do. Our adjustments have received recognition, and we have shared our best practice.
Providing tools and resources
To support conversations across our Group, we regularly share case studies from leaders and colleagues. In this way, we inspire others to seek support. We make full use of our colleague network and provide training and information.
All organisations are required to make reasonable adjustments. However, the word ‘reasonable’ is not defined by the Equality Act though it is defined in case law. It is recommended that businesses have a robust process in place for requesting and implementing adjustments so this is clear and consistent across the organisation.
The assessment is made case by case based on the size, type and resources available to the employer. Mostly, the cost is minimal. However, where it is significant, support is available for businesses and staff through the government’s Access to Work programme.
Before making adjustments, employers should consider the following:
If, after a full discussion with the employee, you feel an adjustment is not reasonable and no suitable alternative is found, you can decline it but would recommend seeking advice first.
There are two types of adjustments (these lists are not exhaustive):
Developed in partnership with Mental Health UK, our hub provides tips and guidance for improving mental health and building resilience to help set you and your business up for success.
Lloyds Bank is a trading name of Lloyds Bank plc, Bank of Scotland plc, Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets plc and Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets Wertpapierhandelsbank GmbH.
Lloyds Bank plc. Registered Office: 25 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HN. Registered in England and Wales no. 2065. Bank of Scotland plc. Registered Office: The Mound, Edinburgh EH1 1YZ. Registered in Scotland no. SC327000. Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets plc. Registered office 25 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HN. Registered in England and Wales no. 10399850. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 119278, 169628 and 763256 respectively.
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Eligible deposits with us are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). We are covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). Please note that due to FSCS and FOS eligibility criteria not all business customers will be covered.
While all reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information provided is correct, no liability is accepted by Lloyds Bank for any loss or damage caused to any person relying on any statement or omission. This is for information only and should not be relied upon as offering advice for any set of circumstances. Specific advice should always be sought in each instance.