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“It would not be worth an employer’s time to employ you”

gervelle Community member Posts: 4 Connected
Geri is a writer and blogger at Spinal Cord Injury Blog, where she writes about living with her acquired disability. Today, she talks to us about her experiences of employment since becoming disabled, and how she thinks things could be improved.

Recently I’ve been thinking about my experience with employment since my injury and I’ve come to realise how much of a sense of fulfillment work gives me. It's now recognised that working has health benefits adding to self-worth, self-esteem and a feeling of self-reliance.

After my accident I prioritized finding a job, and almost one year after incurring my disability I re-entered the workforce. My employer at the time of the accident, a multi-national healthcare company, was excellent in aiding me to get back to employment. They did this in a number of ways. They transferred me to a different branch (closer to where I now resided), they reallocated me with a new post more in line with my subsequent abilities, they made some essential changes to my place of work, and they allowed me to be accompanied by a personal assistant until I became familiar with my new surroundings. 

I was one of the lucky ones: a significant employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people remains, along with the poverty that generally accompanies disability. A big player in independence is your 'financial resources' with poverty and independence being closely related. This is an invisible community, who for the most part are suffering in silence as they try to cope with the day-to-day struggles. 

Even though for the most part I have been lucky with regards to securing employment, I have also had a few negative experiences. One such was being told by a person specially trained to help disabled people find suitable jobs that “it would not be worth an employer’s time to employ you”. This disability employment adviser was and is a member of the social welfare office in my area and despite his invaluable advice I have obtained several paid roles in the past three years. His attitude towards disability was most definitely not leading the way, but lagging behind. This staggering negative perception and attitude around disability is what prevents employers from hiring disabled people and this needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, people with disabilities are still seen as incapable, with stigma surrounding mental aptitudes and ability still existing. In 2018, disability discrimination should have no place in our society, including our work environments.

In my opinion, there is too little guidance, support and training to help those with long-term conditions into employment, and once again the myriad initiatives designed to lift people out of isolation and segregation fall short. The system prevents so many disabled people from joining or re-entering the workforce and becoming independent. This can create a mentality that there’s little a disabled people can add to the state: instead, they remain a stigmatic liability due to their disability. Work opportunities need to be given and barriers need to be overcome. Society should stand behind people who are different by way of physical or intellectual needs and actively empower them. The government needs to directly help employers and medical professionals work together to get people with disabilities into work. Employers need to take a positive approach to disability and offer interviews to all disabled applicants who meet the minimum job criteria. Further schemes must provide essential finances towards the cost of special equipment at work and/or travel expenses.

I leave you with this last thought; Do you think enough is being done to promote diversity in the workplace, when thinking about disability in particular?


  • wilko
    wilko Community member Posts: 2,458 Disability Gamechanger
    @gervelle, I think it's the type of employment you where in or trying to get into. Like myself who has been farming since aged 17 now 60 plus and diagnosed with MS there was no away I could return to work there was no practical ways to allow me to continue working. As for gaining other employment not being able to stand or sit for long periods suffering fatigue all doesn't help. So many others would love to work but employers are unable to offer suitable work for them in a safe environment taking into account all the regulations on health and safety and provisions for the disabled employees acess points ect. And lastly the size of the company having the funds to take some body on with any sort of disability or health problems unless they are a former employee.
  • Geoark
    Geoark Community member Posts: 1,467 Disability Gamechanger

    I would wholeheartedly agree that there are going to be jobs that are not suitable for everyone, and some people who may never work, or return to work. 

    I would totaly disagree that the size of a company would stop them taking on an employee with any sort of disability or health problem. And if as you say they do not have the funds why these would suddenly appear for a former employee? For many disabilities accomodation does not even have to cost the company any money.

    Health and safety regulations is also a red herring. I have worked alongside disabled people in various places including busy warehouses where the disability simply wasn't a major issue. For many disabled people simple accommodations are easy and cheap to accomplish. Yes there may be some premises which by design would make employing people with certain disabilities difficult or impossible to accommodate but there are plenty of employers where such issues do not exist.

    The biggest barrier for many people returning and sustaining work is to do with other peoples attitudes, misconceptions and prejudices. Another is meaningful retraining to enable people who have worked in one particular field of work for many years to move into another.

    Companies who are committed to equality of opportunity for disabled people are more likely to be flexible, maintain current staff and have access to a wider pool of potential employees. Disability networks help their companies to improve their rules and policies to be more disabled friendly, as well as providing feedback on their experiences with interacting with the company, including printed documents, or even providing feed back on websites.

    I know from experience that biting the bullet and helping an employee with medical issues and disabilities, especially when they first occur means you end up with an employee who knows they are valued and appreciated and can still have a positive role to play. Including keeping someones job for them for 12 months, and even having received a doctors note saying  they were fit to return to work, taking a further 6 months to reintroduce them back into the work place at a pace we were both satisfied with and importantly guaranteed their safety and those around them. Knowing their job safe meant one less issue on their mind while they tried to recover and reduced potential stress when they returned. 

    I have also helped to put in place steps to help someone transition into work, not health or disability related, and ended up with a good worker for a number of years as a result. What we learned also helped us to help customers in a more productive way. 

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • MasahikoH
    MasahikoH Community member Posts: 2 Listener
    I was drawn to this article because I too have been told the exact same thing by a 'disability advisor'. I was then told "you might as well just give up now" and "you should just walk right out of here and walk infront of a bus". 
    Being told that by a 'specialist advisor' devastated me. It corrupted my self worth and because no one at the welfare office would take my complaint seriously, I have been struggling to put it behind me ever since.  I was never given any help finding a job, even when I was moved to the work capability group of ESA. Instead I had the exact opposite happen to me. (Which made me worse to the point where I couldn't even bare to go outside or open my curtains because I felt like I was such a waste of space.) 
    In the end I had to sit down with myself and think about what I was truly gaining from being on benefits, whether it was worth it and what could I do to change it?
    It took having my ESA revoked (for unjust reasons,) to make me realise how abusive the benefits' system is. One day I asked myself, "why am I fighting so hard to get abused again" because to me that's all I was getting besides £100 per week. I realised that what I was getting really isn't worth it. I'm further from employment now than before I claimed ESA. 

    So after being backed into another corner by the system, I gave them a two fingered salute and walked away. 

    Now I'm getting better, but it is so hard. I've talked to a few people since who think I have a discrimination claim and I'm in the process of getting a discrimination lawyer because of how badly I was treated. I would have never done this if I was still on benefits. Being off them has given me more resolve even though everyday is a battle.

     I still don't believe I can change things in the welfare system and I'm trying to challenge that way of thinking. I'd like to know if there's anything/anyone that can help or has been in the same situation. I'd also like to know if there's any campaigns to change the way the benefits system treats us that I can join.

    Desmond Tutu once said "my humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together". I believe it's time that people with disabilities are treated not only as equals but as humans by all.
  • Geoark
    Geoark Community member Posts: 1,467 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @MasahikoH and welcome to the community.

    When I last signed on with the job centre they advised me to go to the doctor and get signed off sick. The doctor was happy to do this but said it meant I would never work again, I went back and signed on with the Job Centre.

    It is one thing I think they got right, we were too quick to right people off and forget about them. But having been told for decades in some cases that they were would not work again and having come to accept this the language used was outrages and did little to further cause of getting disabled and long term ill people back to work.

    I remember being sent to a specialist provider who help to get disabled people back into work. They were asked to provide a number of candidates for a data entry job. I was told I lacked the skills required, I think my jaw just dropped. 

    At the time I was chair of a non profit organisation, providing some of the training for board members, putting together newsletters, report, successful funding bids and creating satisfaction surveys along with spreadsheets to record and analyse the results and then producing the subsequent results. When their clients had problems with the computers and the advisors had no clue on how to resolve the problem they asked for my help. Actually they did me a huge favour, had I been successful I would not have the job I have now.

    Something I learned long ago is to understand my own strengths and weaknesses. When someone criticises me, for what ever reason I ask myself if they have a point or talking out of their rectum. If an element is correct then what if anything can I do to change it. If they are talking out of their rectum or there is nothing I can do to change then forget about it and move on. To be honest I don't know how some of these people actually get their jobs. I had one advisor who spent most of our time talking about his fancy new top of the range car and lifestyle rather than helping his clients to get a job.

    I am glad to hear that things are working out better for you and hope they continue to improve.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

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    [Deleted User] Posts: 1,741 Listener
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