The 2011 census figures show that 523,000 (or 15% of) working
age people in Scotland have a long-term activity-limiting health
problem or disability. Economic activity rates are typically much
lower than non-disabled people - Annual Population Survey data for
2012 shows that 46% of working age disabled people are in work,
compared with 80% of non disabled people of working age. However,
there are variations according to type of impairment. For
- Disabled people with mental health problems have the lowest
employment rates of all impairment categories at only
- The employment rate for people with learning disabilities is
Many disabled people say they are available for work and want to
work, but face significant barriers, including:
- Lack of or low qualifications. Disabled people are more than
twice as likely as non-disabled people to have no qualifications
(26% as opposed to 10%).
- Poor health, restricting their ability to work. Many disabled
people have poor general health alongside their specific
- Perception that work will lead to worsened their health.
- Lack of confidence.
- Difficulties relating to transport.
- Employer attitudes/discrimination.
Policies and Interventions
In 2010, the Scottish Government published 'A
Working Life for all Disabled People: The Supported Employment
Framework for Scotland', which set out the government's
commitment to a more consistent, person-centred approach to
supporting disabled people who want to work. The Framework lists
the actions to be undertaken to raise awareness of the supported
employment model and enable more people in Scotland to take
advantage of this type of support.
The Scottish Government's refreshed Employability Framework for
for Growth' also acknowledges the importance of raising the
employment rates of disabled people and highlights the need to
improve the quality, variety and availability of employability
support for disabled people. It also encourages the continuation of
activities to promote the recruitment and retention of disabled
workers in public bodies and suggests that this should be
supplemented by awareness raising around the benefits of a diverse
Employment support for disabled people mainly lies with Jobcentre
Plus and with Work Programme providers. Disability Employment
Advisers in Jobcentre Plus help clients to find work or to gain new
skills and also provide information about disability friendly
employers within their local area. They may also refer clients to a
specialist work psychologist, where appropriate, or carry out an
'employment assessment'. Work Programme providers are awarded
incentives for helping individuals who are furthest removed from
the labour market into work, including disabled people.
Other interventions to help disabled people into work include:
- Access to Work,
programme which provides money towards a support worker or for the
cost of equipment or travelling to work. A number of disabled
people in employment have said they would not have been in
employment without the help of Access to Work.
- Work Choice.
Support under this scheme may include training and skills
development, confidence building and interview coaching.
Employment, where disabled people work with support from
colleagues and a job coach.
- Residential training courses which cover a range of areas, such
as adapting to impairment (independent living skills) and
- Raising awareness of the benefits of a diverse
'Place and train' approaches (such as supported employment) are
considered to be more effective than approaches that try to upgrade
an individual's skills before placing them in employment.
The Equality Act
Act (2010) is the main piece of legislation that addresses
discrimination and inequality in the UK. It brought together nine
separate pieces of legislation into one. The majority of the
provisions came into force on 1 October 2010. The following are the
characteristics which are protected under the Equality Act
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
The law prohibits both direct and indirect discrimination
relating to any of these characteristics and individuals who feel
they have been discriminated against on any of the above grounds
can bring an action in court against the perpetrator. The law also
prohibits victimisation of persons who have brought action against
a perpetrator or given evidence in connection with proceedings
under the Act.
The Act prohibits discrimination across a broad range of areas
including employment, the provision of goods and services to the
public and the exercise of public functions. In addition a Public
Sector Equality Duty came into force in April 2011. It assigned
public bodies (and others discharging public functions, such as
third sector organisations) the following duties:
- Eliminating unlawful discrimination.
- Advancing equality of opportunity.
- Fostering good relations.
Specific duties within the Act require fit-for-purpose equality
monitoring to be undertaken, at both national and local levels. As
a result, a number of listed public authorities in Scotland are now
required to publish a set of equality outcomes and to report on
progress every two years. The specific duties also require the
listed public authorities to undertake Equality Impact Assessment
of new or revised policies and practices and to consider relevant
evidence when making their assessments.
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