Fewer than half of Yorkshire people with disabilities or long-term health issues are in work, a charity has revealed.
Now Citizens Advice is calling for better support to help them stay in employment or get a job.
Research from the charity shows that only 46% of people in Yorkshire & Humberside who are disabled or have health conditions such as arthritis or depression are in work. That compares with the national average of 49%.
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In addition, disabled people or those with a health condition are more than twice as likely to fall out of work in any given year than those without disabilities or health problems.
And they are three times less likely to move into employment. Out of the 3.5m people who are disabled or have a health condition who are jobless, 1.4m want a job.
Citizens Advice said that an ageing population with people staying in work for longer meant it was vital that employers and government do more to address the challenges they face. One in four people aged 50 to 64 are disabled or have a health condition and 500,000 people in this group don’t have a job, but want to work.
Nick Whittingham, chief executive at Kirklees Citizens Advice & Law Centre, said failure to help disabled employees could cost employers dearly.
He said: “A lady came to us for advice after she had been dismissed by her employer. She had become progressively deaf over a number of years and needed a colleague who could do sign language to help her in meetings. She also had to ‘cash up’ on her own in a locked room and would not be able to hear a fire alarm.
“The employer said this was dangerous, but refused to fit a visual fire alarm. We helped her issue proceedings in the Employment Tribunal and to negotiate over £10,000 compensation from the employer.”
Said Mr Whittingham: “We have recently run workshops and written guidance for employers to help them make adjustments in the workplace to support people with disabilities so that they can stay in work and the employer benefits from their skills and experience.
“Employers can make a real difference by being flexible about medical appointments or offering adaptable working hours. It is also crucial that people can get the help the need from the welfare system when they need it, such as through Personal Independence Payments.”
He said: “Employers and government need to work together to offer a range of support to people who are disabled or have a health condition and want to work. This is particularly important as we now have an ageing population, with more and more people working longer in life.”
To contact Kirklees Citizens Advice & Law Centre, call the employment advice line on 01924 868147 between 10am and 4pm Monday to Friday or visit www.advicekirklees.org.uk .