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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 November 2005, 12:42 GMT
Disability prejudice is 'common'
Disabled workers, Remploy
The report found that employees were reluctant to make claims
Discrimination against disabled workers in Wales is "common" and prejudice "widespread" according to a new report.

The study by the Public Interest Research Unit assessed the impact of the Disability Discrimination Act, 10 years after its introduction.

The report found the act had made a positive difference in Wales, but had failed to adequately tackle employment discrimination.

It said more help was needed for people making a discrimination claim.

The report found that instances of employment discrimination were common, and apparent in all 20 public authorities, including local councils and health authorities, studied in Wales.

REASONS EMPLOYEES FEEL THEY CAN'T MAKE A CLAIM
Low level of awareness of the Act
Complex process to make a claim
Problems getting initial advice
Fear of victimisation
Low expectation of success

Employees were found to be reluctant to make a discrimination claim, with many employers assuming the Disability Discrimination Act did not apply to them.

Jackie Christy James from the disability charity Scope Cymru uses a wheelchair after suffering a stroke. She said she had problems when she tried to return to her old job as a psychiatric social worker.

"I couldn't get into my place of work because it was upstairs," she said.

"I couldn't really do my job because suddenly one day I was able bodied and the next moment I was struck down literally.

"I think my employers, who were a local authority, didn't know what to do. They tried their very best to redeploy me but it just didn't work."

Frightened

Carol Stuart McIvor, from the Public Interest Research Unit which published the study, said employers needed to change their attitude to disabled workers.

"Employers are quite frightened that it's going to cost them money if they take action to help people with disabilities," she said.

"There is a culture where if you have a disability you're a threat to the employer. We are saying that that's absolutely not so."

She said it was important to make the process of making a discrimination claim more accessible by, for example, setting up mobile law centres to offer legal advice to people thinking about making a claim.

"If you're rich and you can afford an employment solicitor for 12 months your chance of tribunal is good," she said.

"If you're on your own, if you haven't got a supportive family or friends, you're not going to go through a tribunal. It's too threatening."

The report calls on the Welsh Assembly Government to press the UK Government to replace the act with new, more effective legislation.




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