RNIB calls on Government to make employers report on disability

Post date: 
Friday, 25 March 2022
Category: 
Campaigning
Employment
 A man sits at a desktop magnifier while a woman looks on.

We have called for mandatory disability workforce reporting to ensure workplaces are inclusive and accessible for blind and partially sighted people, in our response to a Government consultation.

Currently employers can report information on disability, mental health and wellbeing in the workplace using a voluntary reporting framework.

Last December, the Government opened a consultation to ask disabled people, organisations and employers whether disability workforce reporting should be made mandatory for employers with more than 250 employees.

Why we think disability workforce reporting should be mandatory

Overcoming barriers to employment is one of the biggest challenges faced by people with sight loss, with only one in four registered blind and partially sighted people of working age in employment. 

We told the Government that disability workforce reporting should be mandatory and needs to be brought in alongside measures to educate employers, to ensure their practices and workplace environments are inclusive and accessible for blind and partially sighted people. 

Additionally, mandatory reporting could play an important step in closing the disability employment gap. For example, the statistics could show the proportion of disabled people on low pay. It could help employers, and others, recognise where improvements can be made to ensure employment processes, practices and workplace environments are inclusive for blind and partially sighted people.

We think the Government should require all employers with more than 250 employees to publish data annually on:

  • The number of disabled people each employs as a proportion of their workforce.

  • The disability pay gap.

  • The percentage of disabled employees within each pay quartile. 

It is important for employers to report the number of reasonable adjustments they make annually; we also recommended capturing retention levels and the progression of disabled employees, as well as the types of contracts they are on.

We shared our support for the Disability Employment Charter, signed by a range of organisations, calling for measures to give equal chances to disabled people seeking work, and to disabled people in employment. 

Barriers to disclosing sight loss

We are aware it can be difficult for some employees to disclose their sight loss, fearing that employers would view their sight loss negatively and force them to leave. We highlighted there will be employees who feel unable to disclose their disability, who will not be represented in the data.

Also, we recommended that employers address this by improving the workplace culture. We urge employers to ensure there are clear pathways for employees with sight loss to raise concerns.

Specific sight loss reporting 

The disability employment gap for blind and partially sighted people is around double that for other disabled people. This gap is widening when it needs to be eradicated. We recommended the data should be broken down by disability, to ensure there is no hidden disadvantage for disabled people that employers are less confident in appointing. This will allow fair comparisons to be made.

We also highlighted that individuals with more than one disability, or condition, should be able to say so. Of 80,000 registered blind and partially sighted people of working age, 65 per cent have at least one other disability; 40 per cent have at least two other disabilities. 

Establish a common definition of sight loss

One specific challenge we experience is a lack of clarity in definitions of sight loss, resulting in differing interpretations of data. In order to identify blind and partially sighted employees, we stressed that a common definition of sight loss needs to be agreed between sight loss organisations and the Government. 

Download our full consultation response