Looking for work if you’re disabled

Looking for work can be difficult for anyone. Right now, finding a job vacancy in the field you want is like looking for a needle in a haystack. With so many people vying for the same jobs you can often find that one job advertisement can have hundreds of applicants.

With competition for each and every job role, disabled people may feel as though their chances of success are even slimmer than the average job hunter. It may feel as though the search for employment as a disabled person is a series of doors shut in your face, but the truth is you are beginning your job search on the same footing as everyone else.

Thanks to The Equality Act 2010, looking for work if you’re disabled shouldn’t be any more difficult than job hunting as an abled bodied employee. However, there are some things you can do to make finding your ideal job a slightly easier ordeal.

Your legal rights

The Equality Act 2010 disability rights ensures that as a disabled person looking for work, you cannot and will not be treated any differently than a non-disabled candidate. It is a good idea to be aware of your legal rights before you begin job hunting to give yourself the confidence you may need to apply for the job you want. The Equality Act 2010 has built upon the old Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and makes it against the law for an employer to discriminate against anyone with a disability. The legislation aids people looking for work who have a disability in two main ways: employers are not allowed to actively discriminate against a person with a disability and an employer must make “reasonable adjustments” to prevent someone with a disability being placed at a disadvantage. The Equality Act covers you at work as well as at an interview.

Applying for jobs

If you have a disability and are looking for work then it is important to go for the job you want. Do not think that your disability means you shouldn’t aim for the career you want and should just settle for what you can get.

Ensure that your CV is up to date and filled with information that an employer will be attracted to. There are companies and organisations which can help you write a stand-out CV. When you are applying for jobs you can ask for any extra information to be supplied in an alternative format such as braille, large print or electronically, should you require it. You can also request to send in your application in an alternative format as this will be covered under The Equality Act 2010 as a “reasonable adjustment”.

Disclosing your disability

Whether or not you disclose your disability during your application or subsequent interview is entirely a personal choice. Unless directly asked as part of a medical questionnaire, an employer is not legally allowed to enquire about your health under The Equality Act 2010. If you feel as though letting an employer know you are disabled may hinder your chances of getting the job then you can choose not to tell them. However, there are some advantages to being open about your disability from the application stage.

Letting an employer know about your disability from the start will enable you to ask for any adjustments you may need for interviews or further down the line in your new job. You can also use any life experiences you have gained from overcoming a disability as part of your CV or during your interview. Gaps in your work history due to your disability can also be easily explained if you have disclosed to the employer. Also, openly discussing your disability gives you more protection under The Equality Act if you face discrimination at work as if an employer can prove they may not have known about your disability then you may have less of a case at a tribunal.

Disability friendly employers

If you are uncertain about applying for jobs as a person with a disability then you can look for disability friendly employers who are proactive about employing disabled workers. Many of the larger organisations are well aware of their obligations under The Equality Act and so are more open to employing people with disabilities. Jobcentre Plus awards the disability symbol to organisations which have made positive commitments to employing people with disabilities. This symbol appears as two blue ticks and is a sign you should look out for when looking for a job on advertisements and application forms. This symbol gives you the added confidence that, as long as you meet the basic requirements for the job, you will be guaranteed an interview.

With some thought and some research, there’s no reason your disability should exclude you from having a fulfilling job you can really enjoy.

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