14/02/2017 00:09 GMT | Updated 14/02/2017 09:17 GMT

Over Half Of Disabled People Have Been Bullied At Work, Charity Finds

'Not acceptable,' says Scope.

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Over half of disabled people have experienced bullying or harassment at work because of their impairments, research by a disability charity has revealed.

Some 53 percent have been bullied and 58 percent feel at risk of losing their jobs, according to a survey of 501 disabled people by charity Scope.

One in five of the survey’s respondents hid their disability from their employer, and one in eight said they had been overlooked for a promotion.

Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams said the findings showed the Government was failing to support disabled workers.

“Ministers must do far more to ensure that disabled people are treated with dignity and respect in the workplace,” she said. 

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The Tories made a manifesto pledge to halve the ‘disability employment gap’ - the difference in employment rates between disabled and non-disabled people - by 2020.

In March, a green paper published by the Department of Work and Pensions called the ‘disability employment gap’ “one of the most significant inequalities in the UK today”.

But Scope reported the employment gap has remained static at nearly 30 percentage points for the past decade, and that one in four disabled people say their employer is not supportive.

Catherine, a 47-year-old wheelchair user from Yorkshire, told the charity: “I had been working for my employer for 13 years when my condition began to affect my work.

“I fought hard not to let it affect my job and got support through Access to Work in order to keep working. I asked for a very minor adjustment to my workload but was told by my employer that I wasn’t fit for work, but if I went on sick leave my job would be at risk.”

Mark Atkinson, chief executive of Scope, said: “There is no reason why someone with a disability should be discriminated against at work or feel at risk of losing their job – this level of exclusion in the work place is not acceptable.

“These figures demonstrate that employers and Government need to be doing much more to support disabled people in the workplace.

“Disabled people are pushing hard to get jobs and progress in their careers but the labour market is stacked against them.

“It’s clear that support for disabled people both in and out of work place need to radically improve.

“If the Government is serious about halving the disability employment gap it must set out reforms which not only lead to a change in employer attitudes but also offer disabled people better access to in work support.”

Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, said:

“It’s simply unacceptable that so many disabled people face bullying or harassment at work. This must end - now.

“Employers need to understand the huge benefits having disabled employees can bring, and do everything they can to ensure accessible, inclusive and supportive workplaces.

“The number of disabled people in work has increased by almost 600,000 since 2013 and I’m determined to go further.

“Employers across the UK are signing up to our Disability Confident campaign and funding is available through our Access to Work scheme to pay for equipment or support that a disabled person might need to help do their job.”