Hse – Employers Agency Strategy and Action Plan for the Employment of People with Disabilities in the Health Service



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Strategy and Action Plan for the Employment of People with Disabilities

HSE – Employers Agency Strategy and Action Plan for the Employment of People with Disabilities in the Health Service


1.Introduction


This Strategy and Action Plan was prepared by the national Equal Opportunities Working Group which operates under the auspices of the HSE-EA. The Working Group is of representatives of the HSE-EA, IBEC, the HSE, Voluntary Hospitals and the Intellectual Disability Sector. The aim of the strategy is to assist health service employers in meeting their obligations under the Employment Equality Act 1998 and 2004 and the Disability Act 2005 to provide full and equal access to employment opportunities to people with disabilities and to ensure retention of people with disabilities in employment (including employees who acquire a disability during their working lives). The strategy is aimed at all health service managers, specifically senior managers, recruitment and selection managers and line managers with responsibility for local level recruitment.

2. Context of the Strategy and Action Plan

The Employment Equality Act 1998 and 2004 and the Disability Act 2005 impose statutory obligations on employers in relation to the employment of people with disabilities. The Employment Equality Act prohibits discrimination on the disability ground and also requires employers to take appropriate measures to ensure people with disabilities have access to employment, to participate or advance in employment or to undergo training. The Disability Act 2005 gives legal status to the existing 3% employment target provided for under successive national wage agreements and assigns responsibility to the National Disability Authority for monitoring compliance and ensuring implementation.


Under successive national wage agreements, health service employers have had a target of 3% for the employment of people with disabilities and were required to submit an annual return to the Department of Health and Children outlining their progress in relation to the achievement of this target. Employers, however, had expressed difficulty in demonstrating compliance with the 3% employment target and in identifying practical measures to promote employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
The Strategy and Action Plan aims to assist employers to attract and retain people with disabilities by outlining practical initiatives to improve access to job opportunities in the health service, to facilitate their integration into the workplace and ensure that they are provided with a working environment which respects their dignity. It also provides for the measures to accommodate employees who acquire a disability during their working life.

2. Legislative Framework


This strategy is underpinned by the following legislation:

2.1 Employment Equality Act 1998 and 2004


The Employment Equality Act 1998 and 2004 imposes obligations on employers with regard to the employment of people with disabilities. The Act prohibits discrimination on the disability ground in relation to access to employment, terms and conditions, training or work experience and promotion. Discrimination occurs where, because of any one of these grounds, a person is treated less favourably than another person is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation. The Act applies to all employees and to applicants for employment and training except where an exemption applies under the relevant ground.
Under the Act the employer is required to take “appropriate measures” to enable a person who has a disability to have access to employment, to participate or advance in employment or to undergo training “unless the measures would impose a disproportionate burden on the employer”. Appropriate measures are defined as measures, where needed in a particular case, to adapt the employer’s place of business to the disability concerned, including:

  • the adaptation of premises and equipment;

  • patterns of working time;

  • distribution of tasks or the provision of training or integration resources.

The Act does not oblige an employer to recruit, retain, train or promote an individual who will not or is unavailable to carry out the duties of a position, or who will not accept the conditions under which the duties attached to a post are to be performed, or who is not fully competent to carry out the duties concerned. The Act stipulates that a person with a disability is to be considered fully competent and capable to undertake the duties attached to a job, if the person could do the duties with the assistance of special treatment and facilities. The provision of special treatment or facilities must result in the person being fully competent and capable of performing the duties attached to the job, otherwise there is no obligation to recruit or retain the person in employment.


The Act also provides for positive action measures to ensure equal opportunities for people with disabilities. This includes measures to prevent or compensate for disadvantages linked to the discriminatory ground, to protect the health or safety at work and measures to safeguard or promote the integration of people with disabilities into the working environment.

2.2 The Disability Act 2005


The Disability Act 2005 places significant obligations on public sector employers to be proactive in employing people with disabilities. The Act provides for the following:

  • A statutory basis for positive action measures in relation to the employment of people with disabilities in the public service;

  • That each Minister may specify targets for employment in their sector;

  • That the existing 3% target will continue to apply until new targets are established

  • That the National Disability Authority will have a specific role in monitoring compliance and ensuring implementation.

These provisions came into effect from 31 December 2005.


The National Disability Strategy has been endorsed in the new social partnership agreement, Towards 2016. This Strategy includes the Disability Act 2005 and the Sectoral Plans prepared by the six Government Departments including the Department of Health and Children.


3. Definition of Disability


The Employment Equality Act 1998 and 2004 and the Disability Act 2005 both contain definitions of disability which differ in their scope.
The definition of disability set out in the Employment Equality Act, 1998-2004 is extremely comprehensive and wide-ranging and includes people with physical, intellectual, learning, cognitive or emotional disabilities and a range of medical conditions (definition contained in Appendix A).
However the definition of disability provided for in the Disability Act 2005 changes the focus away from people's impairments and looks at the barriers which people with disabilities face in every day life. The Act defines disability as:
a substantial restriction in the capacity of the person to carry on a profession, business or occupation in the State or to participate in social or cultural life in the State by reason of an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or intellectual impairment.”
The National Disability Authority has identified two main elements to this definition. Firstly the person must have a long-term condition which has persisted over an extended period of time (i.e. at least 6 months). The condition must also be one that substantially restricts the capacity of the individual to participate in work, social life or leisure activities. This does not include conditions which do not interfere with participation in everyday life such as mild diabetes or wearing glasses.


4. Strategy Objectives


The objectives of the Strategy and Action Plan are as follows:
Objective 1 – Ensure people with disabilities have equal access to job opportunities.

Action 1.1 – Ensure that the recruitment process encourages participation by, and accommodates the needs of, people with disabilities.


Action 1.3 – Ensure that the selection process is fair and applied with consistency.
Action 1.2 – Provide positive action measures to promote the employment of people with disabilities and comply with the 3% target for public sector bodies.


Objective 2 – Improve the retention of people with disabilities within the health service

Action 2.1 –Ensure employees with disabilities are integrated into the workplace and are afforded equal access to training and career development opportunities.

.

Action 2.2 – Support employees who acquire a disability or become otherwise incapacitated whilst employed in the health service and make every reasonable effort to accommodate their return to work.


Objective 3 – Educate line managers on their role in promoting equal opportunities and accommodating diversity

Action 3.1 – Educate line managers on their role in promoting equal opportunities and accommodating diversity



Objective 1 – Ensure people with disabilities have equal access to job opportunities
Action 1.1 – Ensure that the recruitment process encourages participation by, and accommodates the needs of, people with disabilities.

Action

Methodology

Responsibility

Timeframe

1. Job descriptions, person specifications and qualifications will be reviewed to ensure that they do not contain any discriminatory or potentially discriminatory provisions.

  • Recruitment/ HR function to review current agreed job descriptions and person specifications.




Business Manager for Recruitment and Policy and Standards, HR / Recruitment Managers Vols and ID Sector

2. Application forms and recruitment information will be made available in appropriate formats as far as practicable in line with the provisions of Section 28 of the Disability Act and the guidance set out in the NDA’s Code of Practice on Accessability of Public Services and information provided by Public Bodies.


  • Procedures will be established for sourcing and providing accessible formats for recruitment information.

  • Procedures will be established for processing requests for accessible formats where practicable.

Business Manager for Recruitment and Policy and Standards, HR / Recruitment Managers Vols and ID Sector.

3. Job applicants will be provided with any special access, communication or other requirements to enable them to participate in the selection process.





  • Arrangements will be made to ensure that any special requirements identified by can be acquired / made available where it is practicable and appropriate.

  • Identify appropriate sources for any assistance or accommodation needed (e.g. provision of Sign Language interpreters).

Business Manager for Recruitment and Policy and Standards, HR / Recruitment Managers Vols and ID Sector,

4. Target people with disabilities as part of the recruitment process by increasing the range of media through which health service jobs are advertised.

  • Investigate feasibility of advertising positions with FÁS job centres, graduate level careers officers and disability officers in third level colleges and as well as representative organisations such as People with Disabilities in Ireland which is a national cross disability organisation.




Business Manager for Recruitment and Policy and Standards, HR / Recruitment Managers




Action 1.2 – Ensure that the selection process is fair and applied with consistency

Action

Methodology

Responsibility

Timeframe

1. Members of the interview board will receive guidance on conducting interviews in a non-discriminatory manner.

  • A guidance document for interview board members will be developed and training module will be developed.

HSE – Employers Agency, Equal Opportunities Working Group, Recruitment Managers.

2. Pre-employment health assessments will focus on facilitating the employment of people with disabilities.

  • Consultation with Occupational Health Physicians Group on current practice in relation to pre-employment health assessments and reasonable accommodation.


  • Development by Working Group of a guidance on the equal opportunities aspects of pre-employment health assessments and other forms of occupational health assessment to ensure that these processes facilitate the employment of people with disabilities.

HSE HR Well-being and Welfare, HSE – Employers Agency and Equal Opportunities Working Group



Action 1.3 – Provide positive action measures to promote the employment of people with disabilities and comply with the 3% employment target for public sector bodies

Action

Methodology

Responsibility

Timeframe

1. Identify work placement opportunities for people with disabilities.


  • Exploration with Civil Service and AHEAD on the work placement programme which is currently being piloted with third level graduates.

  • Examine opportunities for work placements within the health service.

HSE – Employers Agency, Equal Opportunities Working Group






Objective 2 – Improve the retention of people with disabilities within the health service
Action 2.1 – Ensure employees with disabilities are integrated into the workplace and afforded equal access to training and career development opportunities

Action

Methodology

Responsibility

Timeframe

1. Ensure that the induction process is tailored to meet the needs of people with disabilities so that any accommodation needs or facilities are provided.

  • Incorporation of section addressing needs of people with disabilities in the induction training programme and induction checklist.

2. Ensure employees with disabilities are afforded equal access to training and career development opportunities.

  • Conduct a scoping exercise around the training and development needs of people of disabilities. This would include an assessment of the degree to which training programmes are accessed and identifying barriers and impediments to training among employees with disabilities.

Performance and Development, HR Managers Vol. Hospitals and I.D. sector

3. Ensure that employees with disabilities are encouraged to develop their careers and seek promotion.

  • Raising awareness of line managers through the People Management the Legal Framework training programme.

HSE – Employers Agency




Action 2.2 – Support employees who acquire a disability or become otherwise incapacitated whilst employed in the health service and make every reasonable effort to accommodate their return to work.

Action

Methodology

Responsibility

Timeframe

1. Provide reasonable accommodation to enable employees to carry out the full range of duties of their job. This may include a wide range of measures such as the provision of assistive technology or altered hours of work.

  • The appropriate person will discuss accommodation needs and facilities with the employee and identify and provide appropriate measures to assist the employee perform the duties of the job.

Human Resource funtion in HSE and Vol. Hospitals and I.D. sector, Health and Safety, Occupational Health Physicians

3. Examine the impediments for employees who have acquired a disability in returning to work.

  • Consult employee’s who have acquired a disability and are / were on long term sick leave about the barriers to returning to work and explore how these barriers may be removed.


  • Pilot absence management initiatives in a number of pilot sites.



Area Directors of HR – HSE, Employee Relations Managers in HSE and HR managers in Voluntary Hospitals and ID sector.




Objective 3 – Educate line managers on their role in promoting equal opportunities and accommodating diversity

Action

Methodology

Responsibility

Timeframe

1. Educate line managers about their obligations in terms of managing employees with disabilities and their role in promoting equal opportunities and accommodating diversity.

  • Update the Equal Opportunities Module of the People Management the Legal Framework training programme having regard to the employment provisions of the Disability Act 2005 to promote employment and retention of people with disabilities

HSE – Employers Agency, Equal Opportunities Working Group




Appendix A: Definition of Disability

Employment Equality Act 1998 and 2004

Disability is defined, under the Act, as:

a) “the total or partial absence of a person’s bodily or mental functions, including the absence of a part of the person’s body,

b) the presence in the body of organisms causing, or likely to cause, chronic disease or illness,

c) the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of a persons body,

d) a condition or malfunction which results in a person learning differently from a person without the condition or malfunction, or

e) a condition, illness or disease which affects a person’s thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgement or which results in disturbed behaviour,

f) and shall be taken to include a disability which exists at present or which previously existed but no longer exists, or which may exist in the future or which is imputed to a person.”




Disability Act 2005


Disability is defined under this definition as:
“a substantial restriction in the capacity of the person to carry on a profession, business or occupation in the State or to participate in social or cultural life in the State by reason of an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or intellectual impairment.”
A “substantial restriction” means a restriction which:

a) is permanent or likely to be permanent, results in a significant difficulty in communication, learning or mobility or in significantly disordered cognitive processes, and;



b) gives rise to the need for services to be provided continuously to the person and, if the person is a child, to the need for the services to be provided early in life to ameliorate the disability”.






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