We’ve given evidence to a parliamentary committee to tell them how the UK Government can reduce the disability employment gap.
As part of a select committee inquiry, a group of MPs are investigating the gap between employment rates of disabled and non-disabled people. They’re also looking at how the Government can help disabled people in work.
The MPs have invited experts with lived experience, organisations and academics to provide evidence. Then they will write a report with recommendations for the Government.
This included two people from our community, who spoke to the Work and Pensions Select Committee: MS Society Ambassador Trishna Bharadia and our Executive Director for Research and External Affairs, Sarah Rawlings.
We know people with MS are more likely to be unemployed than those with many other conditions. So the Government need to listen to our views when making any changes aimed at helping disabled people get into and remain in work.
Improving work outcomes for people with MS
Many people with MS experience their symptoms during the peak of their working lives. 8 in 10 people leave or retire within 15 years of being diagnosed. Sarah told MPs it’s essential the Government look at measures aimed at helping disabled people remain in work, as well as helping people finding jobs.
She said that politicians, work coaches in job centres and employers need to better understand conditions like MS and the day-to-day challenges people face.
Better information and support
Employers often want to do the right thing. But they may not know enough about how they can best support their employees with MS. There must be better information and support for employers, employees and those providing employment support.
Sarah asked the committee to urge the Government to better promote schemes like Access to Work, and other support schemes that may be available to employers. And reasonable adjustments that employers can put in place.
Trishna's experience of reasonable adjustments
Trishna spoke to MPs about her positive experience of reasonable adjustments in the workplace. She told us:
"I believe having the opportunity to be able to work is an important factor in leading an independent life with MS and disability. I’ve been lucky enough to have some positive experiences, particularly around reasonable adjustments, which I wanted to share in order to potentially create lasting change for others.
"I also know many people who have had negative experiences and I’m a big believer in there needing to be more legal protection for people with disabilities in the world of work.
“Having the chance to influence things at a parliamentary level is fantastic because it means our voices are being heard at the highest level. I would thoroughly recommend people with MS getting involved!”
How you can get involved
As the country emerges from the pandemic, the Government has made clear that helping people into work is one of its key priorities.
Alongside this, they will be launching a National Disability Strategy. This is an opportunity to make meaningful change for disabled people, both in and out of the workplace.
As the Government develops its strategy, we’ll be investigating further some of the experiences of people with MS. As part of an inquiry we’re holding through our Parliamentary Group for MS, we want to hear from you about getting into, remaining and leaving work.
Share your experience
We’re holding virtual sessions where MPs can talk to people with MS to understand their experiences and thoughts about employment.
And we’re creating a collection of experiences, stories and thoughts from people with MS about employment.
If you’d like to share your experiences of finding work, being in work or leaving work, Daisy would love to hear from you. Email her at: [email protected]