#Empday22 | Tesco announced as a Visibly Better Employer by RNIB

To mark National Employability Day (Friday 17 June), the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is delighted to announce that Tesco has been recognised as a Visibly Better Employer.

RNIB’s Visibly Better Employer programme is the charity’s quality standard to enable organisations to become inclusive for people with sight loss. It aims to help employers see an increase in the number of blind and partially sighted people who seek opportunities with them, while retaining existing staff who develop sight loss.

Marie Clarkson, RNIB Visibly Better Employer Project Co-ordinator, said:

“We are delighted to announce that Tesco has been recognised as a Visibly Better Employer. We worked with Tesco to support them in their drive to become a more inclusive employer, looking at areas such as recruitment and increasing organisation-wide staff knowledge about sight loss.

“The employment rate of blind and partially sighted people is unacceptably low, with 11,000 currently looking for work in the UK. There are many misconceptions and poor knowledge preventing employers from seeing blind and partially sighted people as potential employees.

“The Visibly Better Employer scheme aims to show the value that a diverse workforce offers, and that blind and partially sighted people are able to do a variety of different roles in varying industries by promoting real-life experiences.”

Toni McKay, Tesco Head of Diversity & Inclusion, said:

‘We’re thrilled to have been awarded the Visibly Better Employer standard from RNIB. We’re committed to ensuring that everyone’s welcome at Tesco and that we are doing the work needed to make Tesco a truly inclusive workplace for all.  We recognise that people with sight loss face many barriers to success at work, and with the RNIB’s help are excited to change that for our existing and future colleagues.’

RNIB have specialists who can help organisations implement practices which enables them to become an inclusive employer for anyone with sight loss.

Organisations can achieve the Visibly Better Employer quality standard by making accessibility changes suggested by RNIB and prove its commitment to becoming an inclusive employer for blind and partially sighted people. To find out more, please email the RNIB Employment Team at: VisiblyBetterEmployer@rnib.org.uk or visit the webpage using this link www.rnib.org.uk/VisiblyBetterEmployer

If you have sight loss and are looking for work then you can visit our ‘Looking for Work’ pages on the RNIB website where you can find links to a number of Visibly Better Employer’s recruitment pages.. Click or select the following link www.rnib.org.uk/work with a VisiblyBetterEmployer

Further information:

Media enquiries to Gorki Duhra, PR Manager at RNIB on gorki.duhra@rnib.org.uk or call 07968 482812.

About RNIB

We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

Every six minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. RNIB is taking a stand against exclusion, inequality and isolation to create a world without barriers where people with sight loss can lead full lives. A different world where society values blind and partially sighted people not for the disabilities they’ve overcome, but for the people they are.

RNIB See differently.

Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit our website using this link www.rnib.org.uk

Select Committee report on Access to Work

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The Work and Pensions Select Committee has published its report, Improving Access to Work for disabled people the report highlights the benefits of the AtW programme as ‘an important element of specialist employment support for disabled people’. The Committee also highlights weaknesses in DWP’s administration of the programme and calls for more transparency of criteria for making awards and the appeals process. ERSA is particularly pleased to see that the Committee’s report reflects many of the recommendations made in ERSA’s submission to the inquiry, specifically the need to open access to AtW to better support jobseekers and the importance of supporting those with mental health needs.

Points of particular interest are:

  • substantial unmet need exists amongst people with mental health problems, learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders, young disabled people trying to enter work for the first time, and people found fit for work as a result of the Employment and Support Allowance eligibility process.
  • Recommended that DWP undertake research to establish the likely level and range of currently unmet need and a cost-benefit analysis of Access to Work expenditure.
  • Recommendations to make available AtW statistics, reflecting awards and health conditions.
  • Recommendation to look at employed cost sharing arrangements, and links to Disability Confident campaign.
  • Recommendation for DWP to publicise the Access to Work Workplace Mental Health Support Service (WMHSS) to mental health service providers, and open up referral routes to employers and advisers.

Commenting on the Committee’s report Kirsty McHugh, ERSA Chief Executive said:

“The Work and Pensions Select Committee report on Access to Work makes important points about the need to extend the reach of the service to support more people with mental health needs, young people with a disability or health condition looking for their first job and jobseekers who have been through the WCA and are now looking to return to work.

“ERSA is also pleased to see the Committee has reflected concerns raised in our submission, which highlighted the lack of transparency regarding how awards are made and the availability of guidance for both employers and those looking to access the support.”

“Overall Access to Work is an extremely valuable service, which can make the difference to an individual staying in, or finding work and It is therefore crucial that all those that could benefit from Access to Work are aware of the service, of the support it can offer to them and are able to easily apply. “

ERSA supports fundamental reform of Work Capability Assessment

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ERSA, the sector body for the employment support sector, has today welcomed the Work and Pensions Select Committee recommendations on Employment Support Allowance and the Work Capability Assessment. 

ERSA members, who include both prime contractors and subcontractors of the Work Programme and disability employment programme, Work Choice, are on the frontline of providing employment support for people with health conditions and disabilities.  Their belief is that the WCA should be retained, but fundamentally reformed so that it far better supports the journey into work for those who are able rather than merely acting as an assessment tool for benefit entitlement.

In particular, ERSA supports the report’s recommendations that the WCA should assess employability support needs as well as health needs and that the WCA should become far more effective in identifying those jobseekers who should be in the Support Group.  For those who could, in time, work, ERSA supports recommendations to strengthen the relationships between WCA assessors, Jobcentre Plus, providers of outsourced services and employers, including through sharing the findings of the assessment.

In welcoming the report, ERSA chief executive, Kirsty McHugh, said:

‘Public concern about the Work Capability Assessment is set to continue unless we get fundamental reforms.  The WCA has become an assessment almost entirely used to determine benefit levels and it must be shifted it in a more positive direction. Being found capable of work should be an empowering experience rather than one that causes concern for the potential jobseeker.

The challenge now is to get the WCA right first time so people can access the most appropriate support for them.’

ERSA statement on Remploy announcement

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Following the news that the Department for Work and Pensions is to launch a commercial process under which Remploy Employment Services would leave the public sector by March 2015, Kirsty Mchugh, Chief Executive for the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) said

“We wholeheartedly support today’s announcement which supports Remploy’s ability to continue to deliver excellent services to disabled people.”

Remploy’s announcement can be found here.

DWP’s announcement can be found here. 

DWP publishes new disability and health employment strategy: the discussion so far

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The government has today released its disability and health employment strategy.The new strategy focusses on creating improved pathways for those with disabilities and long term health conditions.

The approach builds on the work of a task and finish group run by DWP, which ERSA was a member of, and suggests creating a day one ‘gateway’, individualising support and improving signposting it also refers to co-commissioning with other departments and closer working and support for employers. There is emphasis on building the evidence base and suggestion more local projects will be piloted to see if they can be applied on a national basis. In line with the most recent WCA there is also a big focus on support for those with mental health issues.

Proposals of particular of interest include:

  • Creation of a ‘gateway’ to advise and signpost those with disabilities and long term conditions from the first day they are unemployed
  • Expansion of the Access to Work scheme
  • Creation of an ‘Employer One Stop Shop’ to engage with and inform employers
  • Introducing Knowledge Toolkits to support and signpost young people with disabilities and long term conditions
  • Specialist advisors, taking a whole life approach to help develop individualised action plans
  • Establishing an ‘Information Portal’ to provide links to information about disability recruitment, retention and progression
  • Greater use of peer support
  • Considering options for improving support to ESA and ESA WRAG claimants
  • Increasing support for self-employment
  • Taking forward suggestions of the Mental Health and Employment Task and Finish Group

 The Department’s next paper, expected in the new year, will set out the delivery plan for the strategy in more detail.