HC Deb 22 June 1993 vol 227 cc105-6W
Mr. Wigley

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what action has been undertaken to date by his Department to implement the recommendations of the EC Council of Ministers in 1986 on the subject of disabled people and employment within the United Kingdom.

Mr. Michael Forsyth

Many of the issues covered by the EC Council of Ministers' recommendations had already been addressed by the United Kingdom prior to 1986. Since then we have:

  • carried out a thorough review of all our employment and training provision for people with disabilities;
  • undertaken wide-ranging consultations on proposals to improve the effectiveness of that provision;
  • improved the local specialist disability services for employers and individuals by introducing placing assessment and counselling teams;
  • ensured that equal opportunities principles apply to the delivery of training provision through training and enterprise councils and local enterprise councils;
  • made delivery of employment rehabilitation more accessible locally through contracts with the voluntary sector;
  • introduced a disability symbol so that employers who are committed to employing people with disabilities can communicate this publicly. The symbol was strengthened from 1 June 1993 so that employers who use the symbol now have to agree to five specific commitments to action relating to good employment practices;
  • taken positive action to ensure that people with disabilities have priority for a place on each of the Department's main employment and training programmes for which they are suitable and eligible;
  • announced improvements to our special schemes. which through the introduction of access to work next year, will increase both the range of help available to disabled people to overcome barriers to work and the number of disabled people who can be helped;
  • reviewed the funding arrangements for our sheltered employment and will shortly be issuing a consultative document with proposals to improve their effectiveness.

Mr. Wigley

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make it his policy to issue guidelines to employers outlining what constitutes reasonable cause for the dismissal of a registered disabled person.

Mr. Michael Forsyth

It is a question of fact for the court to decide whether there is reasonable cause under the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944 for a particular dismissal. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is not given any statutory power to lay down guidelines of the kind suggested.

Guidance to employers on their obligations under the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944 is given in a leaflet "Employers Obligations—Notes for Guidance" which is issued by the employment service.

Advice to employers on employing disabled people, whether or not they are registered, is contained in the code of practice on the employment of disabled people available from the employment service. This is a voluntary code and there is no legal obligation on employers to observe it. We would expect that if an employer acted in accordance with the guidance and spirit of the code it would be most unlikely that a court would hold him or her to have acted unreasonably.