Last reviewed 3 November 2021
The great majority (90%) of disabled workers who worked from home during the pandemic want to continue doing so at least some of the time, according to a poll conducted by the TUC.
Many disabled workers experienced working from home for the first time over the last year and have described the experience as a game-changer, telling the TUC that it had had a positive impact on them and their working lives.
A quarter (26%) said their mental health had improved, while 63% said that it gave them greater control over their working hours and 21% said that working from home had helped them better manage their caring responsibilities.
However, 34% of those who had worked from home said that they lacked proper office equipment, such as a desk, chair or computer, and 7% lacked the software they needed to do their job — such as speech-to-text programmes.
Just over half (55%) of those who asked their employers for reasonable adjustments during the pandemic said that they had been made in full.
The TUC argues that enabling flexible working practices can be a reasonable adjustment and should be considered to support disabled workers.
General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We can’t go back. Employers must offer all disabled people who can work from home the right to continue working from home, as a reasonable adjustment”.
And, she went on, they must offer appropriate flexible working options as standard in all jobs, both as a reasonable adjustment for disabled workers and as a right for every worker.
The TUC is calling on the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to update its statutory Code of Practice on disabled people and employment so that it includes more examples of what timely implementation of reasonable adjustments looks like while reflecting the advances in home and flexible working during the pandemic.
Comment by Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula
Employers have a legal obligation to consider reasonable adjustments for disabled employees and implement changes where possible. This is done to reduce the negative impacts of their disability in the workplace, to create an equal platform for all.
Working from home, for some, is an essential measure to ensure their continual success at work and removes the barriers they would have otherwise faced had they only been able to work in an office environment.
The pandemic highlighted the benefits of rethinking traditional working practices, to support employees whilst still reaching key organisational goals. The Government’s consultation into flexible working, which is set to close at the beginning of December, further highlights the widespread shift in attitudes towards remote working and hybrid working arrangements, in recognition of the advantages many have experienced — in particular for disabled employees and working mums — over the past 18 months.
Employers who fail to join this movement may risk losing valuable employees and face difficulties hiring new ones.