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Disability equality toolkit: checklist for reps

A workplace checklist for reps to bargain for disability equality.

Disability toolkit graphic

Disability equality toolkit

Useful tools for reps to help them support disabled members.

Find out more

Reasonable adjustments

  • Ensure the employer focuses on providing support and adjustments needed by the employee (social model), rather than seeking to obtain evidence to ‘prove’ the employee is disabled ‘enough’ to meet the legal definition of disability (medical model).
  • Ensure that the employer consults on reasonable adjustments as the disabled member will have the best idea about the adjustments that they need.
  • Ensure that the employer regularly reviews and monitors the effectiveness of reasonable adjustments with the employee with a view to making changes or additional adjustments if needed.


  • In consultation with disabled members, reps should negotiate new policies or review and renegotiate any policies to take account of the needs of disabled members. For example, recruitment, sickness absence or performance management policies often unfairly discriminate against disabled employees.
  • Reps should review existing policies and practices to reflect the social model, examples include but is not limited to how language is used to describe people and the use of appropriate language.
  • Ensure monitoring of disability and press for policies to be implemented effectively and in a supportive manner. Having the right policies and support in place will mean that many issues can be dealt with collectively such as, for example, making flexible working (including hybrid working) options available for all staff and having a separate disability-related sick leave policy.
  • Ensure the employer has policies on paid disability leave and paid carer’s leave.
  • Negotiate for all disabled staff to be accompanied by a union rep when attending meetings related to their disability.

Sickness absence

  • Ensure the employer monitors disciplinary actions taken under the sickness absence policy to see if there is a disproportionate representation of disabled members.
  • Ensure that any disability-related sickness absence is dealt with under the Disability Leave Policy and not absence management as such absences may result in disciplinary action which may give rise to disability discrimination.
  • Negotiate for full pay for the duration of a phased return to work. Information on a phased return to work is available.

Bullying and harassment

  • Ensure that the employer takes steps to encourage a pro reporting culture where staff feel uncomfortable with clear reporting mechanisms and provide training for managers on how to challenge negative comments and behaviour towards disabled people in the workplace.

Pay and appraisal

  • Ensure that appraisers take into account disability, if relevant, when agreeing appraisal objectives.
  • Ensure the employer provides pay progression data broken down by protected characteristics and monitors differences in performance related pay of disabled members compared to non-disabled members to see if there is a disproportionate impact and that action is taken to ensure there is equal balance.

Further information and resources for reps are available.


  • Redundancy – ensure the employer takes steps to prevent disabled employees from being directly or indirectly discriminated against in determining who is in the pool of ‘at risk’ staff.
  • Ensure that absence connected to disability is discounted if the employer uses absence or length of service in the selection criteria.
  • If the employer proposes using performance in the selection criteria, have any reasonable adjustments been put in place first, including recognition (and discounting) performance levels below those of non-disabled colleagues that are linked to the disability?
  • If the employer proposes using criteria around flexible working, ensure this does not directly or indirectly discriminate against disabled employees.


  • Ensure the employer is aware of funding available from sources such as Access to Work and any other available sources (e.g. the local authority).
  • Ensure the employer starts the process promptly as lengthy delays may affect the employee’s ability to carry out their responsibilities.


  • Ensure the employer provides general disability equality training provision to raise awareness of and understanding about disability amongst all staff including disabled staff who are best placed to share lived experiences.
  • Ensure that regular disability equality training is provided for all managers so that there is at least a basic level of understanding and awareness of issues including understanding of the social model of disability and ‘hidden’ impairments. Training should also include unconscious bias and how to have supportive and positive discussions about reasonable adjustments.


  • Reps should consult with disabled members and carry out workplace surveys or mapping to identify issues affecting disabled members.
  • Encourage members to discuss disability issues and to challenge jointly any barriers faced by disabled members in the workplace.
  • Reps and members can contact the NEU’s advice line or regional offices if they need support with this: [email protected] ph: 0345 811 8111.
  • Support and represent members experiencing difficulties and seek advice from the NEU if necessary.
  • Ensure when you hold workplace meetings or union events, that your communications and resources are inclusive and accessible for all disabled members including people with ‘hidden’ impairments.
  • Educate yourself about some of the issues faced by disabled members so that you are in a position to give at least some initial advice.

Read the NEU checklist for leaders and give a copy to your head or principal.

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