Human Resources

Disability Matters

At Birkbeck we are committed to supporting disabled people through our recruitment, development, progression and retention practices We aim to create a supportive work environment that encourages disclosure of disability or other health conditions and have established a code of practice that we expect all staff and other stakeholders to adhere to in relation to accommodating disabled people’s needs through implementing reasonable adjustments in the workplace and flexible working arrangements.  The Code articulates the College’s intention to retain disabled staff and promote disability equality in employment by removing barriers to access, tackling discrimination and implementing best practice employment initiatives.

Birkbeck is also mindful of its responsibility under the Public Sector Equality Duty of the Equality Act 2010 to eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation, to promote equality of opportunity and foster good relations.   This means that as a public authority, we aim to provide disabled people with protection from discrimination in a range of areas and that the College is committed to the following key principles:

  • Equality of opportunity for all through policy and service provision
  • Ensuring fairness during recruitment, access to development and promotion opportunities for disabled people
  • Recognising and valuing differences by creating a supportive working environment that demonstrates our commitment as an employer of choice 
  • Reflecting good practice in initiatives that support best practice
  • Supporting and retaining staff
  • Creating a supportive environment to encourage disclosure
  • The provision of appropriate services to meet the needs of staff and students

Positive about Disabled People 'Two Ticks' Scheme

In 2009 Birkbeck was awarded the Positive about Disability Two Ticks symbol by the Jobcentre Plus.  The symbol recognises employers who have committed to developing disability good practice around employment, retention, training and career development of disabled employees.  The five Two Ticks commitments are:

  • To interview all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for a job vacancy and to consider them on their abilities.
  • To discuss with disabled employees, at any time but at least once a year, what both parties can do to make sure disabled employees can develop and use their abilities.
  • To make every effort when employees become disabled to make sure they stay in employment.
  • To take action to ensure that all employees develop the appropriate level of disability awareness needed to make these commitments work.
  • To review these commitments each year and assess what has been achieved, plan ways to improve on them and let employees and Jobcentre Plus know about progress and future plans.

Good practice in recruitment benefits all staff, not just those with a disability and subscribing to the Two Ticks Scheme underlines the College’s commitment to ensuring that the potential of all candidates is not overlooked and that inadvertent bias or discrimination does not occur.

In 2014 the College undertook a review of the Positive about Disabled People scheme and developed a Commitments and Actions Paper to be progressed in 2014/2015. The following captures actions the College has already undertaken and those we propose to take under each of the five commitments.

Recruitment

Commitment 1: Interviewing all applicants with a disability who meet the essential criteria on a person specification and considering them on their abilities.

Actions that have been taken

  • The recruitment process has been extensively reviewed and a more streamlined and consistent approach has been developed. The new recruitment process is outlined in the recruitment checklist, management guidance and an updated set of forms. To access the new recruitment process and relevant forms visit www.bbk.ac.uk/hr/forms
  • A disability matters website had been set up containing detailed information and guidance.
  • Comprehensive HR/recruitment checklist of activities and documentation has been developed for panel members and is currently been reviewed by key stakeholders.
  • The ‘Two Ticks’ Positive about Disabled People scheme information has been captured in the recruitment and selection training and incorporated in the new disability awareness training.

Proposed Actions

  • Panel members and those involved in recruitment will be made aware of the Scheme and the principles of the Scheme through briefings, communiqués and training.
  • Disseminate new guidance for the Scheme to HR Services and College wide managers so that they are aware of applicants with a disability that need to be considered during the shortlisting phase for new recruitment and selection guidance material.
  • Work with managers to ensure that job descriptions are more closely defined in relation to job requirements and the relevance and appropriateness of the selection criteria taken into account.

Consulting with Disabled Staff

Commitment 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.

Actions that have been taken

  • Regular HR agenda item capturing the ‘Two Ticks’ Positive about Disabled People Scheme and other disability issues raised at each Disability Committee meeting.
  • Engaged with staff to consult on relevant policies e.g. Code of Practice on Disability in Employment and Sickness Absence Policy.
  • Disability Committee will continue to be the forum for annual discussions with disabled employees. 

Proposed Actions

  • Identify existing disabled staff through forums, participation in surveys, consultations and liaising with line managers.
  • Consultation and engagement with disabled staff will be undertaken through the Disability and Equalities Committees and feedback will be captured in the annual review process of the JobCentre Plus the scheme review.
  • A survey will be developed and disseminated to staff with a disability to capture their feedback on what improvements can be made to the scheme. 
  • Focus groups will be organised as required as an additional mechanism to capture feedback.
  • Display information on Access to Work and other disability support mechanisms to raise awareness.
  • Develop and monitor actions undertaken within this commitment to measure progress.

Retaining Staff with a Disability

Commitment 3: Making every effort when an employee becomes disabled to ensure that they stay in employment.

Actions that have been taken

  • Arrangements are in place for making reasonable adjustments for staff who disclose they have a disability.
  •  Line managers are provided with support and information (Access to Work) from HR in relation to reasonable adjustments during the recruitment and selection process.
  • HR have established a process to record and monitor reasonable adjustments to seek to ensure that a consistent process is in place to implement these. A reasonable adjustment request form is available on the HR forms webpage that may be used  to request and record reasonable adjustments. The budget for these will be held centrally.
  • The PDR form will incorporate a section to facilitate a discussion about health and special needs such as reasonable adjustments, flexible working etc. The revised PDR form will be used from January 2015.

Proposed Actions

  • Managers/team leaders need to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities for ensuring reasonable adjustments have been identified, and put in place in a timely way and remain appropriate by liaising with HR to identify needs and implement good practice.
  • HR will work with managers/team leaders to ensure they communicate what support is available to colleagues.
  • Develop a robust mechanism to consider all options for existing staff with a disability whose conditions become worse or those who become disabled.
  • Consider flexible working options to accommodate this commitment if appropriate
  • Be responsive to the needs of staff who require support.
  • Promote an enabling environment whereby staff are able to disclose their disability and make appropriate requests if their existing condition worsens or they become disabled.
  • Provide information to staff explaining why the disability data is required and how it feeds into policy/service development.
  • HR working with line managers to create supportive and encouraging working environments so that staff with a disability feel confident to disclose. 
  • Monitor staff who become disabled, or whose existing conditions worsen, to inform the review process and identify how these changes impact on the individual and their ability to do their jobs and the organisation in terms of service delivery.

Disability Awareness Raising

Commitment 4: Taking action to ensure that all employees develop an appropriate level of disability awareness to make these commitments work.

Actions that have been taken

  • HR web page has been updated and captures the ‘‘The Scheme’’ statement, FAQs and symbol.
  • A disability awareness training course has been designed and delivered to staff to raise awareness of disability issues.
  • Disability issues are also referenced in the recruitment and selection training course.
  • Provide regular updates to external trainers on the College approach to implementing the ‘‘The Scheme’’ scheme.
  • HR Disability Guidance has been developed for managers, team leaders and all staff.

Proposed Actions

  • Capture the Scheme symbol on email signatures to increase awareness and build up visibility of the Scheme.
  • A general communication will be sent out to staff about the ‘Two Ticks’ Positive about Disabled People Scheme through HR Briefings and HR Managers with specific responsibility for Academic Schools/Professional Service departments.
  • Disability awareness training and recruitment and selection training will be delivered every term for managers/team leaders with responsibility for dealing with disability issues within their respective work areas.
  • Disability Factsheets are currently being developed and will be available to all staff and students (will replicate the format of the equality and diversity factsheets) to be handed out at the Birkbeck induction days. 
  • Disseminate HR Disability Guidance for Managers across the College.
  • Review and update the Scheme’ and related documentation annually

Monitoring and Review

Commitment 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.

Actions that have been taken

  • Engaged in JobCentre Plus annual review process.
  • Disability related issues communicated to the Disability and Equalities Committees each term
  • A process has been developed to record recruitment feedback and to monitor and audit the recruitment process both for reporting purposes and to support continuous improvement.. The recruitment feedback form is available on the HR forms page.

Proposed Actions

  • Engage with HRMs to establish feedback mechanisms  between HR and  Schools/Professional Service Departments to monitor implementation of the Scheme and pick up any issues in a timely way with appropriate interventions where required.
  • Evaluate the College commitments and demonstrate where progress has been made or good practice developed through the annual JobCentre Plus review.
  • HR Equalities Manager to ensure the findings and feedback from the disability staff survey, Disability and Equalities committees, are captured in the annual review.
  • Report to Disability and Equalities Committees as well as Governors on findings from the annual review.
  • Where staff have declared a disability, ensure that the Performance Development Review and any requirements for reasonable adjustments are picked up by managers to ensure that the individual is able to manage their workload and fulfil their outputs.
  • Review the effectiveness of the ‘Two Ticks’ Positive about Disabled People Scheme to ensure continuous improvement.
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The HR team is based on the first floor of Egmont House
Postal address: Human Resources, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX
Email: humanresources@bbk.ac.uk