Bryn Morris, Inclusion Champion for Disability, Dr Adam Woodhouse and Professor Francisco Sepulveda, Chairs of the Essex Access Forum, talk about what it means to be a Disability Confident Employer.

We are proud to be part of the Disability Confident Scheme, and recently we have successfully reaccredited our status as a Disability Confident Employer.

As a Disability Confident Employer, we aim to challenge attitudes towards disability, increase understanding, remove barriers to people with disabilities and those with long-term health conditions in employment, and ensure that they have the opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations. We are committed to creating an inclusive environment and aspire to build a culture in which every member of the University feels valued, welcome, and is able to flourish. 

Our approach to supporting staff with health conditions and impairments, both physical and mental, sets out this commitment, and provides information for managers and staff about how we support prospective, new and existing staff. It is based on five key principles, which we proactively and enthusiastically pursue:

  1. Creating inclusive environments: we will create virtual and physical environments that normalise health conditions or impairments and reduce the need for staff with a health condition or impairment to ask for specific adjustments.
  2. Going beyond legislative requirements: where workplace adjustments are required, we will consider the needs of all staff with health conditions or impairments regardless of whether they come under the Equality Act 2010 definition of disability or have a diagnosis.
  3. Respecting confidentiality: An individual’s health condition or impairment, and the implications if it impacts on the way in which they engage with work, will be shared on a need-to-know basis and in line with the person’s wishes.
  4. Knowledge building: we will build knowledge amongst our community of how to realise the potential of people with a health condition or impairment and avoid making assumptions through training and awareness-raising activities.
  5. Offering maximum flexibility: we will be as flexible as possible in facilitating continued engagement with work for staff with health conditions or impairments, including those that are progressive and/or can fluctuate.

Flexibility is an intrinsic part of how we work at Essex, and you can find out more about flexible working on the Staff Directory

The Essex Access Forum is a discussion forum and consultation body working to support excellence in all aspects of physical and intellectual access at Essex, and membership is open to both staff and students – with or without disabilities. 

If you would like further information, the Disability Confident website provides guidance for employers on employing people with disabilities and/or with health conditions.