UK Government launch National Disability Strategy

The UK government yesterday launched a National Disability Strategy on 28 July which may impact on the experience of pharmacists with disabilities.

Fri 30th July 2021 The PDA

Disability can either be due to a physical or mental health condition and most people develop disabilities during their lifetime, something that becomes more likely for even the healthiest of individuals, as people age. One in four people will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives and physical health can change quickly due to accidents or conditions such as Long Covid, hence anyone can become a person with a disability. 

Many working people may not realise that elements of their physical or mental health are considered disabilities under the Equality Act and that they therefore have certain rights. Others might still benefit from adjustments at work, even though it may be debatable if their condition is covered by the Act.

The PDA established the Ability Network in 2020 to enable all disabled pharmacists to realise their full potential and raise their profile by being educationally, socially and politically active. The network is one of four Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) networks at the PDA.

Though the PDA welcome a National Strategy there are additional measures that could have been included, such as Disability Pay Gap reporting. The PDA wants to see the same requirements for Gender Pay Gap reporting to be applied to employers to demonstrate the equal treatment of those with disabilities. This would be an important step towards eliminating unfair pay for those with disabilities.

Flexible working arrangements are also a well-established method for helping workers manage their health and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has also called for all workers to have a right to access genuine flexible working through the introduction of:

  1. A legal duty on employers to consider which flexible working arrangements are available in a role and publish these in job advertisements, with the new postholder having a day one right to take up the flexible working arrangements that have been advertised. If an employer does not think that any flexible working arrangements are possible, they should be required to set out the exceptional circumstances that justify this decision.
  2. A day one right to request flexible working for all workers, with the criteria for rejection mirroring the exceptional circumstances set out above. Workers should have a right to appeal and no restrictions on the number of flexible working requests made.  

The PDA supports that proposal from the TUC, who also polled over 2,000 disabled workers in February 2021, looking at their experiences getting reasonable adjustments before and during the pandemic. It found that 4 in 10 disabled workers aren’t getting the reasonable adjustments they need.

The PDA has a proud history of supporting pharmacists who have been discriminated against because of disability, and a failure to provide reasonable adjustments is one way in which discrimination can be evidenced.

The PDA encourages all employers to educate their managers about disability and the rights of disabled employees and invites pharmacists who wish to support the work of the Ability Network, whether or not they have a disability, to join here.

PDA members who believe they may be victims of discrimination by their employer can contact the PDA Service Centre on 0121 694 7000 for individual advice and support.

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