B&Q is the largest home improvement and garden centre retailer in the UK and Europe employing over 30,000 people nation-wide, and is recognised as a pioneer in diversity issues, being particularly well-known for its highly successful push to employ older workers. But its scope is wider than that. As far back as 1998 B&Q started to learn about the needs of disabled people as customers, employees and the local community and understand the barriers to employment and shopping that people with disabilities can sometimes face as part of everyday life.
This led to B&Q launching a disability programme, which includes staff training, customer service, access to their stores and a review of their recruitment and employment policies and practices to ensure accessibility for all. In 2006 they won the Enhanced Accessibility Award for for excellent customer service. Commendation was received for accessibility of all B&Q stores, the encouragement of staff to learn British Sign Language and the Daily Living Made Easier product range.
The particular aspect of good practice that this blog focuses on is around supporting company car drivers.
B & Q work in close collaboration with their Occupational Health provider and Company Car provider to support company car drivers who have existing, or develop new health conditions which impact on their ability to drive.
As driving is a fundamental part of their role, the initial aim is always to look for potential solutions which will enable the employee to remain in their existing role rather than automatically looking to redeploy them elsewhere in the business onto a role which reduces or removes the need to drive.
The Occupational Health team provide details of the employee’s needs and any limitations, and also make recommendations for potential solutions. The Company Car provider can then review the specifications of the available cars in the fleet to find the most suitable car which will suit the employee, or can be upgraded or adapted to do so.
However, not all solutions require permanent modifications to vehicles. In a recent example regarding an employee who has a spinal condition, B & Q were able to source a suitable portable lumbar support for the employee that enables him to use it in any car he travels in, whether as a passenger or a driver, at work or in his own time. He has been able to continue in his role, and has also reported less discomfort whilst travelling in all vehicles.
Another example of where a quick, easy and very inexpensive action can make a huge difference in enabling an employee to continue in their existing role despite acquiring a disability or long-term health condition.
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