How can employers avoid disability discrimination in job adverts?

Another really useful guest blog from legal expert, Emma Bashaw.

Job adverts are used to advertise vacant jobs within a company. At their most basic they include details about the role, the required qualifications, and how to apply. Given that many of the best candidates are also disabled, employers must take care that their job adverts do not discriminate, or turn off disabled workers from applying.

What does the law say?

The Equality Act 2010 states the employers must not discriminate against disabled candidates when deciding who to recruit. A discriminatory advert will be strong evidence that a company has a policy of not recruiting disabled workers. Employers are also required to make reasonable adjustments for disabled candidates so that they can compete with non-disabled candidates.

Can you positively discriminate in favour of disabled candidates?

Yes! The law allows an employer to favour disabled candidates. This may be by offering a guaranteed interview. The law recognises that may disabled people face barriers to employment.

What are the best ways to avoid disability discrimination in a job advert?

  1. Be objective about what you need from the role, and ensure that the job advert reflects the actual requirements of the role, e.g. don’t require someone to be able to drive when the job is office based.
  2. Make the job advert available in alternatives formats. For example, large print, Braille, audio or paper based (where internet only).
  3. Advertise using recruitment methods which reach disabled workers. Evenbreak is a good example!
  4. Ensure that any images do not suggest that applications from disabled workers would not be welcome. Take care if you advertise using video content
  5. Ensure video content has the correct subtitles or captions.
  6. Don’t include any obvious discriminatory language e.g. ‘unsuitable for those with a mental health condition’ or ‘unsuitable for someone with a disability’. 
  7. Include a statement confirming the company’s commitment to equal opportunities.


Emma Bagshaw is a Consultant Senior Solicitor at Seabury Beaumont Legal Ltd, a niche employment law firm based in Manchester. Contact Emma at

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What to do if you Face Discrimination at Work

It’s a sad fact that thousands of disabled people are discriminated against in the workplace every year. In the working world, discrimination can come in a range of shapes and sizes – whether because of bullying or harassment at work or due to employer procedures that don’t offer the same opportunities to everyone.

If you think you’ve been discriminated against at work, it’s essential to know where you stand. Here’s what you should do.

1 – Don’t do nothing

If discrimination arises, the very worst thing you can do is nothing at all. Even in the unlikely event that your employer isn’t found to be discriminating against you, it’s important to raise the issues you have for your peace of mind.

Don’t suffer in silence – talk to workmates, friends and family and let them know what you’re going through. After all, a problem shared is a problem halved.

2 – Complain informally

The best way to let your employer know about your circumstances is to speak to someone at your company about what you’re going through. Let your line manager know about your issues and provide written confirmation of the complaints you’ve brought about and what happened during the meeting. Many people find that issues at work can be easily eradicated with a productive informal meeting.

Ensure that the person you speak to isn’t directly involved in the discrimination or the meeting may become personal and less productive.

However, because discrimination is such a serious issue, some employers prefer a more formal meeting from the outset to ensure that the problem is addressed properly.

3 – Complain formally

If your informal meeting doesn’t resolve your problems, you should bring your discrimination case to your company formally in an Employment Tribunal. Write a dated letter stating your grievance to your company’s HR or personnel department and use as much detail as possible.

You can enlist the help of your trade union to draft a letter and act alongside you during the process. You’ll then have a meeting with representatives where you can state your problems in person and detail how you’d like the matter to be resolved.

After this process, your work will let you know how they intend to deal with the problem and you can appeal against the decision, or go to an employment tribunal.

4 – Use an employment tribunal

If you’re still not happy with how your work have dealt with your discrimination case, you can take them to an employment tribunal. It does cost £1200 to make a discrimination claim to this independent tribunal, although you may be able to get financial help, depending on your circumstances. It’s also important to note that you’re not guaranteed to win.

You need to act quickly: complaints at employment tribunals must be made no later than 3 months after the initial complaint.

If you’re making a claim through an employment tribunal it’s important to seek the help of trusted legal professional who can represent you. It’s important to attend the tribunal hearing, otherwise it could be held without you. If you were found to have no good reason to miss the meeting you could be awarded less compensation.

Author – Howells Solicitors specialise in helping disabled people with discrimination cases. If you’ve faced harassment at work because of your disability, they can help you to fight bullying by representing you at an employment tribunal. Find out more by visiting Howells online today.

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An Essential Service for People Interested in Disability

It’s really important for us at Evenbreak to keep up to date with all the current news and events regarding disabililty, and this can be very time-consuming, particularly as the media tends to have its own agenda where disability is concerned. Thankfully, there is a service which helps to keep us informed and saves time (I have no relationship with the service other than as a very happy customer!). Learn more here from its founder, John Pring:

Disability News Service was set up to fill a gap.

Four years ago, despite the thousands of newspapers, magazines, websites and blogs published in the UK, not one of them focused on disability-related news.

There was lots of comment – particularly on the web – there were magazines that were strongly feature- and comment- based, and there were newspapers like the Guardian that often ran disability-related news stories. But there was nothing that just did news, and just did disability.

Just as importantly, the news stories that were written rarely featured the voices of disabled people themselves; they were more likely to quote a chief executive from one of the large non-user-led disability charities, or some other non-disabled professional from the disability and social care world.

There was a big hole that needed filling, and it was why I launched DNS in April 2009.

Four years on, it is still the UK’s only provider of in-depth news on the issues that affect the lives of disabled people, such as discrimination and equality, independent living, poverty, benefits, and human rights.

Or, to put it another way: stories about disabled people who are deprived of the right to board a bus, are denied a living income, have been forced to live in an institution, or have become a victim of a disability hate crime.

As well as the serious stuff, I also cover some of the important developments in arts and culture – particularly disability arts – and Paralympic sport.

DNS is set up like a niche news agency, although on a much smaller scale, and with some subtle differences.

Every Friday, I email my subscribers with the news stories I have written that week. Usually, there are between 7 and 12 of them, all independently-researched. My subscribers can use those news stories in their email newsletters or magazines, and particularly on their websites and blogs. Links to the stories – once they have been posted on their web platforms – can be used as the basis for messages sent out via Twitter, and posted on Facebook and other social media.

The stories allow subscribers to keep their websites updated with high quality content, boost their Google search ratings, and increase their followers on Twitter. They also alert their staff to what leading disabled people are saying about some of the crucial issues, and keep them up-to-date with important policy and campaigns developments.

So where do I find my stories?

As DNS ages – let’s say matures – more and more of the news is coming from disabled people contacting me directly, but I also attend protests and conferences, launches and parliamentary meetings. And there are the inevitable press releases, as well as ideas that come from Twitter and Facebook and from checking the websites of the national media.

Unsurprisingly, the government’s programme of cuts and reforms to disability benefits and services has taken centre stage over the last three years. From the direct action protests of Disabled People Against Cuts, to the many judicial reviews of decisions to cut spending, the continuing controversy over the actions of the fitness-for-work contractor Atos Healthcare, and the – how should I put it? – questionable accuracy of the coalition’s statistical welfare announcements, every week produces something new that could impact on the lives of every disabled person in the country.  

Although many of these developments are mentioned on blogs and tweets, and in comment pieces, only rarely are they dealt with as news stories, ie with a focus on the facts, figures and evidence, while DNS also ensures that disabled people have their voices heard.

A big part of what DNS does is to breaks exclusive stories that would otherwise not find their way into the public arena. During the London 2012 Paralympics, DNS covered the glory and the excitement of the games, but it was also the only news organisation that consistently raised concerns about the access issues that sadly took away a little bit of the gloss.

DNS has also exposed the dubious influence of the US insurance giant Unum on the UK welfare agenda over the last 20 years; it broke the story that Baroness [Jane] Campbell would be the first peer allowed to bring a personal assistant onto the floor of the House of Lords; it has run campaigning stories about the criminal justice system’s failures on disability hate crime; and it persuaded several Paralympians to speak in advance of London 2012 about the importance of disability living allowance, as the government prepared to slash spending and replace the benefit with the new personal independence payment.

And now, as a way of recognising the many talented disabled people I come across in my working life, and some of those I don’t, DNS has launched The List, which aims – eventually – to rank the most influential disabled people in the UK.

But The List will only work – like the news service itself – if DNS continues to listen closely and carefully to the views and opinions of disabled people themselves.

John Pring is the founder and editor of Disability News Service,

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Welcome new discrimination legislation

On 28 February 2013, the Mental Health (Discrimination) Act 2013 became law.

The Act removes the last significant forms of discrimination in law from our society.This is a fantastic moment for people with mental health problems and a big step towards breaking down the prejudice surrounding mental health.

The new Act removes three legal barriers that contribute to a stigmatised view of mental health problems. It also sends a wider message that discrimination of people with mental health problems will not be tolerated.

The three provisions in the Act:

  • repeal section 141 of the Mental Health Act 1983, under which a Member of the House of Commons, Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly or Northern Ireland Assembly automatically loses their seat if they are sectioned under the Mental Health Act for more than six months
  • amend the Juries Act 1974 to remove the blanket ban on “mentally disordered persons” undertaking jury service
  • amend the Companies (Model Articles) Regulations 2008 which states that a person might cease to be a director of a public or private company “by reason of their mental health”

These three pieces of legislation fed into the discriminatory and outdated idea that people with mental health problems can never recover, and cannot be trusted to participate in social, political or economic life.

It’s hard to believe it took this long to give mental health the same legal status as physical health issues, but we are finally there. For more information see here.

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Guides in Pre-Employment Health Questions.

A lot of, mainly positive, things changed in the most recent discrimination legislation, the Equality Act 2010. One of the changes was that it is now illegal to ask candidates about health or disability related questions until the job offer stage, other than for monitoring purposes or to identify relevant reasonable ajustments which might be required in the recruitment process. This has left both employers and disabled job seekers with some confusion. Thankfully, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has produced three documents – a guide for employers (incidentally in bright blue), a guide for job applicants (in a very dazzling bright orange), and a research report (using a pink so bright and dazzling it necessitates the need for sun glasses). Choice of covers aside, these are useful for a number of reasons. Section 60 of the Equality Act 2010 makes it generally unlawful to ask questions about disability and health before you make a job offer. However, the employer still has a duty to provide reasonable adjustments as required throughout the recruitment process. On first reading there may appear to be a conflict here.

The first guide – Pre-employment health questions: Guidance for employers on section 60 of the Equality Act 2010 – is aimed at employers. It discusses the purposes of section 60, what and who it applies to, which questions it prohibits and exceptional circumstances when some health-related questions can be asked. So long as the employer is confident about what is and isn’t allowed, and how to explain why a particular questions is allowed, they should avoid litigation. However, if they ask questions which can’t be justified and the candidates fails to be offered the job, they are leaving themselves vulnerable to accusation. The guide gives a number of helpful potential scenarios to explain how it works, and a checklist for employers. I suggest this guide is required reading for anyone involved in the recruitment process.

Another guide – Pre-employment health questions: Guidance for job applicants on section 60 of the Equality Act 2010 – is, obviously, aimed at job seekers. It explains that, in general, employers are not allowed to ask questions related to disability or health issues before a job offer is made (that can be a conditional job offer – conditional on health checks even – but failing to go ahead and appoint a candidate on unjustifiable griounds relating to a disability or long-term health condition is still illegal). It also explains the exceptional circumstances when certain questions can be asked, and what to do if unacceptable questions are asked. As with the employers’ guide, there are a number of scenarios which help to clarify some of the subtleties.

The third document is a research report called Use of pre-employment health questions by employers. This reports the findings of research carried out by IFF Research on behalf of the EHRC on the recruitment practices of employers relating to collecting information about a job applicant’s health prior to the job offer being made.

The guides are free and can be accessed by clicking on the relevant links above. Whether you are an employer or a disabled job seeker, it is important that you know where you stand legally on this issue.

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Disability discrimination “by association”

People can be discriminated against not because of their own disability, but through association with someone else who is disabled. An example of this is given below.

Atlas Ward Structures Ltd is an engineering firm that employs around 1,000 workers. Mr Bainbridge was employed by the company as a temporary welder along with 12 other co-workers. His wife suffered from medical problems, and the company later conceded at the tribunal hearing that she is disabled for the purposes of discrimination law.

In late September and October 2011 Mr Bainbridge was told that his contract would not be renewed. He was “shocked”, as he had not understood that there was any likelihood of redundancies, and had expected to be kept on when his contract came to be renewed. He asked why he had been selected, but did not receive an answer. He believed that the reason was his wife’s disability. He suggested that the amount of time that he had had to take off work, particularly at short notice, had “irritated” the manager, and this was why he had been selected. At no point was Mr Bainbridge provided with a reason as to why it had been him, rather than any of the 12 or so other welders in the same temporary position.

The employment tribunal stated that the crucial issue was causation: why had Mr Bainbridge’s contract been selected for non-renewal? On the evidence before the tribunal, Mr Bainbridge was well respected, experienced and qualified, and generally well regarded by the company. His attendance record, save for the periods of leave he had taken at short notice, was good – there was “no obvious or apparent reason” why he had been selected. Mr Bainbridge’s unchallenged evidence was that other employees who had been taken on after him had had their contracts renewed.

The tribunal accepted, “in the absence of any other plausible reason”, that Mr Bainbridge had been selected because he had, on occasion, taken leave at short notice, causing the company some inconvenience. The tribunal found that “faced with the need to select workers, [the company] had decided to remove this possible future source of inconvenience…by selecting Mr Bainbridge”.

The tribunal awarded Mr Bainbridge £10,500 in compensation and made further recommendations about his reinstatement.


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