I had to go to over 50 interviews before I got my job. It was hard and upsetting but I knew why. I have a learning disability, which means I faced a lot of employers who did not know anything about learning disabilities and when they heard the word ‘disability’, they doubted my ability to work.
I’m not alone, only 5.8% of people with a learning disability known to social services are in a full time job. And that number keeps getting lower.
So when I heard that Philip Hammond had said that he thought having more disabled people in employment had led to a dip in UK productivity, I was really angry.
The government have promised to get one million more disabled people into work by 2027; I don’t think statements like this are the way to do that.
There isn’t any evidence for what Philip Hammond said, but that doesn’t mean it won’t stop people with a disability getting a job.
A lot of employers, like the public, do not know what it is like to work with someone with a learning disability. They worry that employees with a learning disability may create a lot more work for them and they won’t be good at the job.
They worry that they will slow things down, miss work and cost a lot of extra money. If these are things people already worry about, then yesterday’s statement isn’t going to help.
But though Philip Hammond doesn’t have any evidence, I do.
Research Mencap helped put together shows that employers find employees who have a learning disability bring huge benefits to their workplace. We know that:
- Workers with a learning disability stay in their jobs 3.5 times longer
- Have less sick days
- That they boost staff happiness by 72%
- Over 80% of people would much rather work somewhere that has staff with a disability than somewhere without.
The evidence says that people with a learning disability are good employees and that we are hard workers.
So with so many other barriers stopping people with a disability getting a job, the idea that we’re not going to be good employees shouldn’t be one of them.
Rather than spreading negative attitudes, the government needs to be pushing schemes like Access To Work and helping workplaces make sure their applications are accessible to people with a disability.
Getting more disabled people into work can only be good for the economy. The evidence shows that we won’t slow things down, but make workplaces better places to be and help people become better off.