News & Insights

Government publishes updated “Disability Confident guide for Managers”

The government have recently published updated guidance on the recruitment, management and development of individuals with disabilities or health conditions for managers.

The government, in conjunction with the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) have published a new version of the “Disability Confident guide for Managers” in the hope that it will further assist managers in supporting disabled employees (and those with health conditions) in the workplace, as well as managing their development and ensuring retention.

The updated guidance can be found here.

The announcement follows the government’s plans to support those with disabilities in their return to the workplace, whether their absence has been a result of them being temporarily unable to secure employment as a result of a health condition or disability, or after a period of long-term sickness absence, in the hope of reducing the disability employment gap and ensuring inclusivity in the workplace. The Minister for Disabled People, Health & Work, Mims Davies MP has said that “this new guidance is a really useful tool for managers that will support even more people to progress, whatever their condition and whatever their profession”.

This updated guidance comes after the CIPD report on Health & Wellbeing at Work (published on 26 September 2023) found that one of the most common challenges amongst managers, is their knowledge and confidence in managing those with a disability or long-term health condition. The report also noted that the average level of employee sickness absence was at its highest for over a decade.

The guidance covers the following key areas:

  1. Legal responsibilities of employers towards disabled employees – the statutory definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010 is set out, and the duty for employers to make reasonable adjustments introduced.
  2. Language and behaviour – this section focuses on how to manage encounters with disabled employees, suggesting that managers should be aware of preferred language and avoid phrases which may create uncomfortable situations.
  3. Reasonable adjustments – this section considers the overriding duty to make reasonable adjustments and considers examples and the potential costs associated of workplace adjustments. It also provides some guidance on flexible working and how employers should consider hybrid and remote working as a reasonable adjustment.
  4. Recruitment and dealing with new starters – a focus on how recruitment processes should be designed to attract a wide range of talent and giving all candidates an equal opportunity to demonstrate their abilities. In particular, how employers may consider adjusting the recruitment process to ensure any candidate is not put at a disadvantage because of their disability or health condition.
  5. Disclosure and confidentiality – this area considers ‘invisible’ disabilities or conditions and the importance of fostering a positive approach towards health and wellbeing to encourage employees to feel more confident in making disclosures about their health.
  6. Sickness absence – a particularly tricky area for many employers, the guidance provides some tips for managers in effectively managing employees with disabilities or long-term health conditions and managing a return to work.
  7. Retention and leaving employment – tips on encouraging retention of valuable employees and how to deal with references on ending employment.

In summary, whilst this guidance is not overly detailed, it will act as a useful point of reference for managers. The guidance makes it clear that managers are not expected to be “legal experts” on disability legislation or adjustments and should take advice where necessary. This is particularly the case given an employer’s actions (or inaction) can lead to claims for disability discrimination.

If you require any advice on the issues raised in this article, please contact [email protected]