The coronavirus crisis is transforming workplaces and the way we all work. This disruption has the potential to have a profound and negative impact on the working lives of disabled people, from a huge increase in homeworking, to social distance measures. Due to this, Sheffield Hallam MP, Olivia Blake, is calling on the Government to provide disability advice to employers, including on how employers can mitigate the impact of social distancing measures for specific conditions.
Blake has written to Justin Tomlinson MP, the Minister of State for Disabled People, Work and Health with the support of national charity, Action on Hearing Loss, to ask what steps they will be taking to ensure that disabled people and their employer’s access to all the information and support that they need at this time.
There are 12 million people in the UK with hearing loss, including an estimated 900,000 with severe or profound hearing loss. Even in good times it is too often the case that disabled people have to fight and persevere to get the support they need in the workplace, it is therefore especially important that the Government supports them to get the adjustments they need at a time of rapid and unsettling change. Currently, employers are being forced to reinvent there workplaces and way of doing business overnight, creating new systems, processes and environments to respond to the needs of both their business and their staff so the needs of those that are deaf or have hearing loss need to be kept in mind.
Olivia Blake said:
“It is absolutely right that workplaces impose measures to protect workers. Yet whilst the guidance states that employers still have statutory responsibilities to those with protected characteristic there is no guidance on disability or any information on how employers should reconcile contradictions between social distancing and the need to make reasonable adjustments.”
Robert Geaney, Head of Campaigns and Public Affairs at Action on Hearing Loss said:
“Research from Action on Hearing Loss demonstrates that people living with deafness and hearing loss, like disabled people generally, face persistent and substantive barriers to achieving their potential in the workplace. Our research demonstrates that nearly a third of business leaders aren’t confident communicating with someone with a hearing loss and over half don’t know where to go to find advice and support around supporting disabled staff.