While 76% of the general population are in paid work, the figure for those with a learning disability is below 6%, and inaccessible application forms are one of the main reasons for the disparity according to a leading charity.

Mencap based its finding on a survey of 1625 adults with a learning disability in the UK, which also found that 62% of working aged adults with a learning disability want to work.

Head of Development at Mencap, Mark Capper, said: “People with a learning disability can work and want to work, and with the right support they can also make really fantastic employees. But currently people with a learning disability are being shut out of work and this is having a negative impact on their quality of life”.

Often all that is needed are small and cost-effective reasonable adjustments, he went on, but many people with a learning disability often fall at the first hurdle because the recruitment process is inaccessible.

Most employers will not even be aware, Mr Capper pointed out, that by having online only application forms and formal interview processes they are closing the door on an untapped talent pool.

Mencap can support employers to ensure that people with a learning disability have greater access to employment opportunities by helping employers with everything from making their application process more accessible through to providing job coaches.

“We want to work with more employers to help them make small changes to their workplace to make a big difference for people with a learning disability,” Mr Capper concluded.

Mencap can be contacted via https://www.mencap.org.uk/contact/contact_mencap_s_employment_team.

Comment by Peninsula Associate Director of Advisory Kate Palmer

While all employers have to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010, the Government’s Disability Confident scheme offers employers the opportunity to be officially recognised for business practices that support the needs of disabled staff.

The scheme helps employers recruit and retain staff, regardless of their disabilities, and provides support in creating a welcoming and inclusive working environment.

Being recognised as disability confident should give employers the tools required to encourage applications from those with learning disabilities by creating a fair application process that accommodates individuals’ specific needs.

This will be especially important given the current uncertainty around post-Brexit staffing levels and employers who focus on what disabled workers can do, rather than what they can’t, stand to benefit the most.

Last reviewed 29 November 2019