This page will help you find out how you are protected by the law and supported by specialist organisations and schemes established to support your job search.
If you are not disabled but concerned you may face discrimination in recruitment (due to for example your ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation ) scroll down for the section on ‘Inclusivity’ where you will find a list of organisations that will offer advice and support.
Please note: Legally, everyone is protected by law and therefore have the right to fair, non-discriminatory recruitment practices. These organisations and schemes are for those students who would like to explore any specialist support available. Please let us know if you find others that we could add to our list! Careers@reading.ac.uk.
The Equality Act
The Equality Act 2010 protects employees and workers from discrimination, harassment and victimization relating to disability, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age and other protected characteristics. Under the Equality Act, disability is defined: A person is disabled if they have ‘a physical or mental impairment’ which has ‘a substantial and long-term adverse effect’ on their ‘ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
Impairment - may be a physical or mental impairment, or both. It is not necessary to establish the cause of the impairment and it does not have to be the result of an illness. It is not always possible, or necessary, to categorise whether an impairment is either physical or mental – as there might be impairments which are both physical and mental.
Long-term - lasting at least a year, or likely to be for the rest of the person’s life or recur substantial adverse effect - more than minor, but it may fluctuate or change, and may not be present all the time
Normal day-to day activities - not defined by the Act, but in and out of the workplace they are taken to be common things for most people. For example, in employment, they might include interacting with colleagues, using a computer, writing, following instructions, keeping to a timetable, sitting down, standing up, driving, lifting and carrying everyday objects.
An employer must make sure disabled people will be able to apply for their vacancies: This includes asking disabled applicants whether they need any ‘reasonable adjustments’, often called ‘access requirements’, for any part of the recruitment process. An employer must not reject a disabled applicant because it would have to make ‘reasonable adjustments’
Employers must not include wording in the job advertisement, or job description and person specification documents which would discourage or exclude a disabled person from applying. There is an exception to this, where an essential requirement for the job could not be met by making adjustments to the jobholder’s work environment or responsibilities - for example, a particular and essential physical ability or level of physical fitness.
Deciding to disclose your disability to an employer is a matter of personal choice. You are under no legal obligation to do so, and it's for you to choose if and when you disclose. However there are a number of things to consider: Think about whether your disability raises a health and safety issue for yourself or your future colleagues. If it does, you may have to disclose so that employers can help ensure you have a safe working environment. You may also wish to disclose if you need any adjustments to help accommodate your disability, either at the application stage or during your day-to-day work.
Once you've told an employer about your disability, you're protected by the Equality Act 2010. This means your employer must take all reasonable steps to provide the necessary adjustments and mustn't discriminate against you because of your disability. The revelation of a disability at the interview can lead to the interview being all about your disability and not about your abilities. Not declaring a disability in an application can lead to problems in the future if there is an employment tribunal. An employer cannot be expected to make reasonable adjustments if they do not know that you have a disability.
Identifying disabled friendly employers
- What does the employer say (or not say) in their recruitment information? Check if the website or company literature includes a policy statement on equal opportunities and profiles of employees with a disability.
- Look for job adverts and application forms carrying the Jobcentre Plus 'disability confident' symbol or 'positive about disability' symbol, this has replaced the ‘two ticks’ system. These show that an employer has signed up to commitments on disability, including guaranteeing an interview to all applicants with disabilities who fulfil the minimum job criteria.
- Members of the and supporters of the Mindful Employer recognise the benefits of a diverse workforce. Both websites have a full list of supporting employers, including those from IT and telecoms, media, manufacturing, education, financial services and local government.
- Speak to someone who works in the organisation to get a sense first hand of how the organisation operates.
- Look out for employers with application forms that avoid small print, are available in alternative formats, and encourage applicants to say what adjustments can be made to help them during the recruitment process.
- Visit the University Careers Centre to find out about disability-positive employers. We offer guidance to recent graduates, (up to 18 months after graduation) so check even if you have already left.
- Don't limit yourself to applying only to organisations that publicise their commitments to diversity. A lack of publicity doesn't mean they're not inclusive employers. Make your application based on the opportunities available and how those opportunities match your own skills and interests.
If you feel that you may be discriminated against or if you would like to discuss disclosure during your job or course applications. There are many organisations out there promoting opportunities for students and graduates who may feel discriminated in the workplace for one reason or another. Book a 121 advice appointment to discuss your options.
We have tried to list the most relevant organisations that advertise either work experience and actual job vacancies or relevant advice. If you come across others that you think are useful, please let us know firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Citizens Advice Bureau offers advice on employment, diversity, sex and race discrimination in the workplace, education, employment and civil rights issues as well as advice on tax, debt and housing.
- Employ-ability promotes schemes and opportunities for students with disabilities including skills training sessions and can offer advice regarding disclosure and workplace adjustments. Works primarily with the larger graduate recruiters. The Careers Centre works closely with Employ-ability.
- Evenbreak are a social enterprise run by and for people with disabilities. Can search vacancies for specific sectors some temporary and permanent positions across all levels of work, also offers advice
- Disabled Workers Cooperative are a registered charity offering a skills register and access to services and products. Disabled individuals and organisations employing disabled people can register their details for FREE
- Disability are developing a variety of resources and networks to enhance opportunities for employment in the UK's disabled community
- Leonard Cheshire Disability provides skills training and supports disabled people in finding work or starting their own businesses
- The Shaw Trust offer training and support to help people with all kinds of disabilities find employment
- Scope Leadership Recruitment works with graduate recruiters to help students and graduates with disabilities to find placements or places on graduate schemes
- Disability Rights UK provide advice on a range of disability issues, including careers. Offer internships and voluntary wor
- Plus Student Club provides information and advice for students with a disability or long-term health condition. Discover information on applying for roles and attending the recruitment process. You'll also find the latest on your rights on disclosing a disability, requesting adjustments, requiring support, CV gaps, lack of work experience, etc. In addition to marketing their opportunities, employers include specific information about disability and the support they offer. Has index of disability friendly employers.
- Diversity Jobs supports people with learning difficulties and disabilities find the right career path suited to them. Access thousands of career opportunities and vacancies from some of the UK’s largest employers including the BBC, Barclays, E.On, J.P. Morgan, The UK Government, Bank of England and EDF Energy.
- Elevation Networks organise activities which include networking events, mentoring, internships, skills development and volunteer opportunities for students and graduates including those affected by disability.
- Young Disabled People's Employment Portal are a government site which signposts young people and professionals who support them to advice and ideas to help young disabled people successfully navigate the transition to work.
- Lawyers with disabilities are a collection of legal firms that welcome applications from graduates with disabilities.
- Sutton Trust are a Think Tank aiming to improve social mobility through education. They offer an undergraduate programme supporting non-privileged law students during their studies.
- SEO London are an organisation supports students from ethnic minority or low socio-economic backgrounds with their careers by offering mentors and works with over 50 sponsor firms across 8 areas of industry offering internships and graduate roles.
- Social Mobility Foundation are a charity working to improve social mobility of young people from low income backgrounds.
- RARE are a recruitment agency supporting students from ethnic minorities and/or disadvantaged backgrounds into employment with large graduate recruiters. They provide help for undergraduates and postgraduates.
- Civil Service Summer Diversity Internship is open to those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
- Speaker's Parliamentary Placements Scheme is a 9 month paid placements designed to open up parliament to people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
- Windsor Fellowship: a registered charity that supports individuals from diverse backgrounds with personal development and leadership programmes. Also has links to some industries offering internships.
- Stonewall campaigns for the equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people across Britain. Find out which employers are doing well, here.
- Interfaith Network for the UK: Works to promote understanding and good relations between organisations and persons of different faiths.