Supporting Staff with a Disability

‘In Northern Ireland 1 in 5 people have a disability’ Source: Disability Action

Supporting Staff with a Disability

The University values and promotes equality and diversity and works to ensure that it treats all individuals fairly and with dignity and respect. The University seeks to provide equality to all and ensures that both employees and applicants with a disability enjoy equality of opportunity.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA), as amended in Northern Ireland prevents discrimination on the grounds of disability. The University has a duty to make reasonable adjustments to seek to overcome any arrangements or physical features that make it difficult to:

  • Access employment
  • Prevent an applicant with a disability from taking up employment
  • Affect an employee’s ability to stay in employment.

The duty to make reasonable adjustments applies to both recruitment and during all stages of employment, and as such covers both employees and job applicants.

  • Definition of a disability

    The DDA defines disability as a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. It is not always immediately obvious who is disabled; as well as covering ‘visible’ impairments, the Act also affords protection to those with hidden impairments such as mental illness, learning disabilities, dyslexia, diabetes and epilepsy.

    People with cancer, HIV or multiple sclerosis are automatically covered by the Act from point of diagnosis. Non-disabled people are also protected against disability discrimination where they are perceived to have a disability or are associated with a disabled person. The University will ensure that all at reasonable adjustments are made to support both staff and applicants with a disability. The below information provides details regarding types of support available and the key contacts that both manager and employees should contact.

  • Making reasonable adjustments

    In accordance with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, as amended in Northern Ireland an employer has a statutory duty to make reasonable adjustments where a provision, criteria or practice puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with those who are not disabled.

    Reasonable adjustments can include:

    • Making adjustments to premises
    • Reallocating some of the disabled person’s duties to another person
    • Altering the person’s working hours
    • Allowing absences during working hours for rehabilitation, assessment or treatment
    • Changing the recruitment process
    • Acquiring or modifying equipment
    • Allowing employees who has become disabled to make a phased return to work, including flexible hours or part-time working

    Various factors influence whether a particular adjustment is considered reasonable. The test of what is reasonable is ultimately an objective test and not simply a matter of what you may personally think is reasonable. When deciding whether an adjustment is reasonable the following points should be considered:

    • The effectiveness of the particular adjustment in preventing the disadvantage the disabled worker would otherwise experience
    • The practicality of the adjustment
    • The cost of the adjustment
    • The availability to the employer of financial or other assistance to help make an adjustment.

    Failure to make a reasonable adjustment can only be justified if the reason for failing to do so is relevant to the circumstance of the particular case, and substantial.

  • Guidance for managers

    For more information on Complying with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, please click here: Guidance for Managers

  • Line manager responsibility

    It is the responsibility of line managers in the first instance to ensure that an employee with a disability is not subject of discrimination. The line manager may be the first person to become aware that an employee has a disability.

    Managers need to establish the specific effects of a person’s impairment upon their ability to do their job and should take into account the available advice and guidance from the relevant people including, the employee, Occupational Health Department, Safety Services, Human Resources Business Partner and the Diversity and Inclusion Unit.

  • Employee responsibility

    Individuals who have a disability and who may require support have a responsibility to advise the University and management with regards to their disability, so the appropriate reasonable adjustments can be explored.

  • Support available

    There is various support available to managers and staff including:

    Staff Disability Support Fund

    Over the last number of years, the University has been able to assist staff with disabilities by contributing towards the purchase costs of various pieces of office equipment such as larger monitors, specialist chairs etc. If you are a member of staff with a disability and would like further information on the Disability Support Fund, please contact Fiona O'Connell on 02890 971046 or by email eqdiv@qub.ac.uk.

    Further information on the Fund can be accessed by here - while you can download an Application Form here.

  • Inclusive employment scheme

    Inclusive Employment Scheme” (“the scheme”) was launched by the then Minister for Employment and Learning Dr Stephen Farry on 29 May 2014. The scheme is currently supported by the Department for Communities (previously the Department for Employment and Learning) and affords disabled people with a placement in various schools and directorates throughout the University.

    The scheme is a great opportunity for those who have been unable to get work, or have had to leave work because of a disability, to develop skills and gain valuable work experience. It has been identified as an example of best practice by the Department of Employment and Learning and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

  • Access to work (NI)

    Access to Work is a funded employment support scheme that can help people with disabilities who wish to take up employment or who are in work and experience difficulty related to their disability. It can provide practical and financial support for people who have a disability. Support provided by Access to Work (NI) include help towards the cost of:

    • Aid and equipment in the workplace
    • Communication support for deaf people or people who have a hearing impairment and need a communicator with them at interview;
    • Support if practical help is needed because of a disability, either at work or getting to and from work;
    • Support to assist employers where other additional costs arise because of disability - for example, extra 'in-work' travel costs, or provision of disability awareness training.

    An employee must make the application for Access to Work (NI) services themselves and this can be done online at: NI Direct

  • Workable (NI)

    Workable (NI) provides a flexible range of long-term support to help people with disabilities, who have a lot of barriers to employment, to find and keep work. An employee must make the application for Workable NI themselves and this can be done online at NI Direct