Human Resources

Recruitment & probation

Disability Confident Employer: Staff Recruitment Guidance

1. What is the disability symbol?

  • The symbol is awarded by the Jobcentre Plus to recognise employers who have agreed to meet five commitments regarding the recruitment, employment, retention and career development of disabled people.

2. Why is Loughborough University using the disability symbol?

  • Loughborough University is committed to achieving an educational and working environment which provides equality of opportunity and freedom from unlawful discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, nationality, ethnic origin, gender, gender reassignment, marital status, disability, pregnancy and maternity, religious or political beliefs, age, sexual orientation or offending background. 
  • The University is proud to receive the Disability Confident Employer badge as we have adopted a proactive approach to employing disabled people and are or trying to create a more diverse workforce.
  • The symbol helps to make it clear to disabled people that we welcome applications from them and are positive about their abilities. It also shows existing employees that we value their contribution and will treat them fairly should they become disabled.

3. Definition of Disability

The Equality Act 2010 sets out the circumstances in which a person is ‘disabled’. It says a person is disabled if they have:

A mental or physical impairment

That has an adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities

The adverse effect is substantial

The adverse effect is long term, meaning it has lasted for 12 months or is likely to last for more than 12 months or for the rest of the person's life.

4. The Five Commitments

Will interview all applicants with a disability who meet the minimum criteria for a job vacancy and consider them on their abilities.

  • This is a guarantee of an interview, but not necessarily of a job. It means that candidates who are disabled and meet the essential criteria stated on the person specification must be invited for interview, regardless of the nature of their disability.
  • It is very important to make sure that the person specification drawn up for the position is fair and does not preclude disabled applicants from applying. For example, if a role involves travel, a driving license may not be necessary as a disabled candidate may be able to use public transport or make other arrangements.
  • Applicants are asked to indicate whether they have a disability on the application form. Shortlisting panels must ensure that they do not use this information when shortlisting candidates. If the applicant meets the essential criteria they should be invited to attend for interview and any access or facility requests that the applicant has should be arranged. 
  • The interview panel will be required to consider the candidate on the basis of their skills and experience, as for other non-disabled candidates. The implications of their disability must not be considered at interview stage, although further clarification can be sought about what reasonable adjustments would need to be made.
  • If the disabled candidate is appointable on the basis of their performance at interview, then the implications of their disability can be considered. Under the Equality Act 2010,  and the University’s Equality and Diversity Statement, the University is required to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate a candidate’s disability. Human Resources must be informed if this situation arises.
  • The University may be able to apply for funding to help cover the costs of any equipment or additional support that the employee may need through Access to Work. 
  • If unfortunately the adjustments that need to be made are unreasonable, e.g. in terms of cost or disruption, an offer of employment may be withdrawn. This would be a last resort and no action should be taken without consulting the relevant HR representative.
  • Human Resources will carry out random audits to check that shortlisting is being carried out correctly. For all Ordinance VI positions, the shortlisting records must be sent to Human Resources at the same time as the details of the shortlisted applicants.

Ensure there is a mechanism in place to discuss at any time. but at least once a year, with disabled employees what you and they can do to make sure they develop and use their abilities.

  • The University has a personal development review system for all staff which will provide the opportunity for disabled employees to review and develop their skills on an annual basis.

Make every effort when employees become disabled to ensure that they stay in employment.

  • The University is fully committed to retaining employees who become disabled. Where appropriate, Occupational Health and Human Resources can be contacted to assist as and when these situations arise.

Take action to ensure all employees develop an appropriate level of disability awareness to make these commitments work.

  • Staff are encouraged to consult Organisational Development’s website for further details.
  • HR Partners and the Recruitment Team are also available to provide advice and guidance.

Each year, the University will review the above four commitments and see what has been achieved, plan ways to make improvements and let staff and the Employment Service know about the progress and future plans.

Human Resources Committee reviews the University's annual submission to the Scheme to monitor achievements and identify areas of improvement.

Failure to adhere to these procedures, may also lead to the University and/or the Department losing its Disability Confident Employer status. It may also lead to claims of disability discrimination at an Employment Tribunal.


Retaining staff who become disabled

Another aspect of the scheme is that the University is committed to ensuring that existing staff who become disabled during their period of service at the University, will be supported and every effort will be made to enable them to remain at work.

Procedure for Dealing with Existing Staff Who Become Disabled

1. An employee does not have to disclose that they have become disabled to their employer if they do not want to. However, the University cannot be responsible for making reasonable adjustments to accommodate and individual’s disability if they are not aware of the disability.

2. An employee may disclose to their manager, their HR representative or to Occupational Health that they are disabled. (Occupational Health will routinely advise the relevant HR representative if an individual they are seeing is likely to be covered under the Equality Act.)

3. Once the employee has disclosed that they are disabled, if they haven’t already been referred to Occupational Health, the individual may be asked to see the Occupational Health doctor who will be able to advise whether any reasonable adjustments could be made to the job to accommodate the individual’s needs.

4. Possible adjustments that could be made include:

    • reduction or adjustment to working hours
    • adjustment of duties – are there other duties that the disabled employee can do, of a similar level to the duties that they can no longer do?
    • purchase of equipment to assist the employee
    • employment of an assistant to help the individual (e.g. a reader) (Access to Work may be able to assist with the funding for this)
    • redeployment to another position within the Department/University

5. It is important that the employee and their manager work together to identify the most appropriate solution. Whilst the University has to ensure that any adjustments that need to be made are reasonable in terms of cost and of disruption to the service of the University, managers are expected to do their utmost to support and assist staff who become disabled, in remaining at work.

6. In some circumstances, it may not be possible to continue employing an individual who has become disabled. Terminating an employee’s contract on the grounds of ill health would only be considered once all other possible solutions have been considered and rejected.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is the University implementing this?

The University is committed to equal opportunities and the scheme is a good way of publicising that fact. The University is required by law not to discriminate on the grounds of disability, and the scheme is an extension of the University’s legal duties.

2. What does it mean?

It means that the University is committed to:

  1. Interviewing all applicants with a disability who meet the essential criteria on a person specification and considering them on their abilities.
  2. Ensuring there is a mechanism in place to discuss, at any time, but at least once a year, with disabled employees what can be done to ensure that they develop and use their abilities.
  3. Making every effort when an employee becomes disabled to ensure that they stay in employment.
  4. Taking action to ensure that all employees develop and appropriate level of disability awareness to make these commitments work.
  5. Reviewing the commitments each year to assess what has been achieved, plan ways to make improvements and to let staff and the Employment Service know about progress and future plans. 

3. Isn't this positive discrimination?

Implementation of the scheme does not breach employment legislation. The Equality Act permits this kind of positive action and favourable treatment to this Group. Remember, that although disabled candidates who meet the essential criteria on the person specification are guaranteed an interview, they are not guaranteed a job offer. The disabled candidate must be considered on the merits of their application.

4. Anyone will be able to declare themselves as disabled so they can get an interview.  How will we make sure that this does not happen?

Candidates are given the legal definition of what a disability is in the application form and are asked to tick the box, only if they comply with the definition. The application also makes it clear that any false declaration may result in any offer of appointment being withdrawn.

5. Who will pay for the cost of the extra interview expenses this will involve?

For academic posts, the cost will be met, as normal, by People and Organisational Development.  For all other positions, the cost will be met by the Department. Please remember that for a number of support services positions, applicants are generally from the local area and are not eligible for interview expenses. Please also remember, that telephone interviews may be used in incidences where it would be too costly to ask the individual to attend the interview on campus.

6. Does this apply to overseas candidates?

Yes, it applies to all applicants. 

7. Does this override other legislation, such as immigration legislation?

No. All other legislation still applies and this does not take precedent. For example, if you have a disabled candidate who requires a work permit apply for a position in which a work permit would not be granted, you would not be required to shortlist the applicant.

8. Why has a person specification been introduced and how do I use it?

A person specification has been introduced to make it clearer for recruiters and applicants to understand how the selection process will work. Recruiters are asked to indicate, when writing the person specification, at what stage the criterion will be assessed. That way the candidate knows what information needs to be included in the application and what sort of questions they’re likely to be asked at interview for example.

As disabled candidates who meet the essential criteria are guaranteed an interview, it is important to make clear what criteria are to be measured from the application form.

Recruiters will need to think carefully about each criterion and decide at what stage it can be assessed.  For example, there is no point assessing whether a candidate has good interpersonal skills from an application form. The interview would be the most appropriate place to test this skill.

9. What should I do if I don’t believe someone has a disability?

This is a difficult one. The legal definition of disability also covers mental ill health and certain degenerative diseases that may not have obvious symptoms, so care must be taken. If you’re in doubt, talk to your HR representative.

10. What should I do if a disabled candidate meets the essential criteria measurable from the application form?

They must be invited for interview. This is regardless of whether the pool of shortlisted candidates is too large. Although you may use the desirable criteria to reduce the pool to a manageable level to interview, disabled candidates who meet the essential criteria must be excluded from this exercise.

When making the interview arrangements, remember to consult the disabled candidate’s application form to ensure that any adjustments or special arrangements that need to be made are done. The HR representative and the Counselling and Disability Service will be able to provide information on accessible rooms and the provision of support equipment.

11. What should I do if a disabled candidate does not meet the essential criteria measurable from the application form?

If any candidate does not meet the essential criteria measurable from the application form, then they should not be shortlisted. The shortlisting matrix or the shortlisting notes should clearly identify which of the essential requirements on the person specification measurable from the person specification have not been met.

12. What should I do if the disabled candidate is not the best person at interview?

If they are not the best candidate for the job, they should not be offered the job. Be careful though that you’re making the decision on the basis of their performance at interview and not on the implications of employing them.

13. What should I do if the disabled candidate is the best person at interview?

They should be advised that they are the successful candidate then consideration should be given to what adjustments, if any, are needed to the job or to the working environment.  In law, the University is required to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that a disabled candidate is able to do the job. Certain modifications can include additional computer equipment or office equipment such as a specialised chair, re-organisation of the duties (as long as the candidate can do most of the duties themselves) employment of a personal reader or note-taker.

Access to Work is a government scheme which provides funding to employers who are employing a disabled person for any adjustments that need to be made.

Applications must be made within six weeks of the commencement of employment. Further information is available from the relevant HR representative.

14. What happens if the adjustments that are necessary are unreasonable?

If the adjustments are unreasonable then an offer of appointment may be withdrawn. However, case law shows that employers are expected to do their very best to employ a disabled person and only if the costs are prohibitive or if the disruption to the Department is so severe that it will adversely affect the business of the Department can an offer be withdrawn. No action should ever be taken without consulting with the relevant HR representative.