HR Expert: Accommodating disabilities in recruitment

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A client has contacted me recently about how they can make sure they are attracting a wide range of candidates, including those who have a disability. They also want to know how they can adapt their recruitment process to accommodate the needs of any disabled applicants they may get, to remove any barriers they may face. Are you able to offer any advice that I can share?

According to statistics from 2023, there are around 9.5 million people of working age with a disability in the UK, and yet only 5.1 million of them are in work. The Disability Confident scheme, in collaboration with the CIPD, has recently released the “Recruiting, managing and developing disabled people: a practical guide for managers” that offers a range of useful information that your client can use to make their recruitment process more disability friendly.

This can also be used to meet your client’s obligations to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate disabled applicants under the Equality Act 2010.

Regarding recruitment, this guidance provides advice on attracting a wide range of people to a business, which your client could use to advertise how they are an attractive option to all candidates, including those who have a disability. One of the suggestions is to make it clear in recruitment literature that the organisation is committed to inclusion and diversity, and welcomes applications from people with a disability or long-term health condition.

Making sure that literature gets to the intended recipients is also important. Advertising vacancies through a range of media will help to appeal to a diverse audience. This can be done through a mix of channels, including those that specifically reach disabled people.

Another way to make sure the recruitment process accommodates applicants with a disability is to provide a contact point for people who may have questions about the recruitment process, including on how the process can be accommodated to fit their needs. Giving applicants the opportunity to discuss their needs prior to attending any interviews or participating in any other recruitment assessment will reassure them that your client is open to making sure they can accommodate individuals.

Practically during the recruitment process, the guidance also suggests some adjustments that can be made, such as:
• Choosing an accessible interview room.
• Allowing a support worker or companion to accompany the candidate if they need additional support.
• Allowing a candidate to use a specific online platform or assistive technology for a remote interview, which may be different to what is usually used for remote interviews.
• Adapting tests or selection exercises, such as by granting additional time for completion, or considering alternative assessments all together, such as allowing short form answers to questions that would normally be assessed by multiple choice.
• Thinking beyond the traditional face-to-face interview. There may be other ways that your client can assess a candidate’s suitability for a role beyond the usual recruitment process they would use, such as a work trial or observation.


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