Disabled employees: What does Brexit mean?

As representatives of the UK and the European Union (EU) negotiate about Brexit, our attention is focused on disability. Now, the spotlight is on how disabled employees may be affected by the country’s withdrawal from the EU.

The Business Disability Forum says that disabled employees, including people with MS, potentially have a lot to lose.

Disabled employees

Diane Lightfoot, Business Disability Forum chief executive.

The forum is a not-for-profit member organisation, headed by chief executive Diane Lightfoot. It aims to makes it easier and more rewarding to do business with, and employ, disabled people.

It warns: “The legislative impact of Brexit – and what it means for disabled employees and customers – is an area of concern. There is real worry that recent progress in the EU around access and equal treatment may be lost, or that standards of accessibility may slip.

“But fair treatment of disabled people has always been about more than just legal compliance. From a business point of view, to harness the full potential of disabled workers, to reduce staff turnover and absence, and to access the £212bn purple pound means going beyond minimum legal standards.

Disabled employees overseas

“It means we need to achieve the best outcomes for all people, with or without disabilities. It goes to the core of being businesses that people will wish to support or want to keep working for.”

Additionally, the forum believes that focusing on good practice rather than legal compliance will only become more important if the UK wishes to be a country that looks outward, and does business on the international stage.

“The work we do overseas focuses not on legal compliance but a universal code of practice for doing business with disabled people,” it says.

“Universal values apply to everyone. Principles for treating disabled people fairly, and working with them, are similar to good customer service, good management and good design.

“Even more importantly, working this way means being disability-smart isn’t effort, but attitude – something ingrained in what we do.

“Brexit may generate uncertainty around legislation and legal risks, but this needn’t bear on organisations doing business with disabled people. In the end, being disability-smart is just about aiming for the best outcome for everyone,” the forum says.


The Business Disability Forum says it builds disability-smart organisations to improve business performance by increasing confidence, accessibility, productivity and profitability.

It does this by bringing together business people, disabled opinion leaders and government to understand what needs to change. Disabled people must be treated fairly so they can contribute to business success, to society and to economic growth.

It has more than 20 years’ experience working with public and private sector organisations, formerly as Employers’ Forum on Disability. Members employ almost 20% of the UK workforce and seek to remove barriers between organisations and disabled people. It is a key stakeholder for both business and government, and has contributed to development of meaningful disability discrimination legislation.

Business Disability Forum provides pragmatic support by sharing expertise, giving advice, providing training and facilitating networking opportunities. This helps organisations become fully accessible to disabled customers and employees.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Features Writer with Medical News Today. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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