After a long time talking around the subject, employers often confidentially reveal the truth about why they are hesitant to hire people with disabilities.
One thing often comes up is the fear of being sued if something goes wrong. They are worried that even if they have the very best of intentions they are exposing themselves and their organisation to possible problems.
Royal Bank of Scotland plc v AB (2020)
The Reality Is Exactly the Opposite
Statistically, it's been proven that an employers exposure to litigation actually goes up if they DON'T proactively recruit people with disabilities. Why is this?
Surprisingly, the vast majority of court cases don't involve employees who were taken on when they were disabled. They come from employees who developed their disability whilst in their job.
Courts often note that in these cases, there is no culture of working with disabled employees. This causes obvious problems. Worse, as no commitment to recruiting disabled people can be demonstrated, it's often very hard to defend against even unintended consequences.
Prevent Allegations Of Indirect Discrimination
This is when there’s a practice, policy or rule which applies to everyone in the same way, but it has a worse effect on some people than others. The Equality Act says it puts you at a particular disadvantage.
Having few people with disabilities in your workforce can also increase your exposure to accusations of indirect discrimination.
For example, let's say your business is recruiting for a Sales Manager. You may decide to only advertise the job internally. However, if it turns out all the potential applicants are able-bodied, you could be discriminating indirectly against those with disabilities.
Leaving the obvious moral issue aside, it makes legal sense to recruit more people with disabilites.
Whilst it may sound counter-intuitive at first, the best way to avoid the legal impact of disability discrimination is to actually recruit MORE people with disabilities rather than less.