Employing a person with a learning disability ensures your workforce is more representative of your customer base and community, while also demonstrating your commitment to equal opportunities. Buying into the misconception that people with these difficulties may not be reliable or capable employees could mean you’re restricting your talent pool unnecessarily…
The Equality Act and recruitment adjustments
The Equality Act 2010 requires employers to make reasonable adjustments to allow potential or existing employees to perform the job to the required standard – you should take the initiative and ask any employee with a learning disability what help you can offer in this respect.
In terms of the recruitment process itself, adjustments could include:
- Amending the recruitment criteria to attract more applicants with learning difficulties
- Changing the assessment process to include more practical tests than written ones
- Ensure your advert can be recognised easily – with permission from Jobcentre Plus, you can use the ‘Two Ticks’ symbol on to show that applications from disabled people are welcomed
Always carefully consider whether the role really needs an individual with high-level qualifications –or whether responsibilities can be allocated to other staff members, in order to create a role suitable for a candidate with learning difficulties.
Job offers and starting work
While an employer shouldn’t ask health-related questions before making a job offer, an exception can be made if the employer wants to check if any reasonable adjustments are needed to help the disabled applicant in the recruitment process.
Often a person with learning difficulties will find the period after starting a new job the most challenging, so here are some tips for employment best practice:
- Offer additional support during the early days
- Allow them to shadow existing employees for the first couple of weeks while they settle into the work environment
- Once they start performing their role, it may be appropriate to assign another member of the team to support and guide them while they learn
Employers should not forget that all employees – including those with learning disabilities doing lower grade jobs – are entitled to the national minimum wage. Do not pay less than the statutory minimum, even if you assume that the employee in question will carry out less work than other staff members.