The Jersey Employer’s Network on Disability (JEND) is seeing increased interest from employers in the island ahead of the anticipated disability anti-discrimination law.
JEND, whose membership is made up of employers in Jersey, advises on disability issues in the work place. The charity covers any disability: physical, sensory or mental, and supports employers in enabling them to overcome obstacles which might stop an employee from achieving their best performance.
Chairman of JEND Sally Gallichan said when the recession took hold in 2007/2008, they noticed membership fall, ‘Companies were cutting costs, and although our subscription is very small starting at £20 and rising to a maximum of £150, as a paper cost cutting exercise it was easy to chop. Now that disability is starting to loom as an issue with the first stage of the discrimination law awaiting Privy council approval, we are seeing an increased interest from employers.
‘Many employers are still scared of disability, it is often a taboo subject and the fear of the unknown means people don’t talk about it. When we surveyed our members we asked those with a disability if they felt disadvantaged by declaring their disability and it was a resounding yes. We also asked employers whether if somebody declares a disability on an application it causes concern or anxiety, and again it was a resounding yes – and that is because they don’t understand it. We offer practical advice as well as building awareness and can help employers to get their house in order before the law comes in. Sometimes it can just be about awareness, we were recently invited into a company to talk to their staff and as a result of that three people approached HR to ask for support. That means their working lives are going to be more rewarding and productive.’
JEND runs four breakfast seminars a year and is in its fifteenth year. This year JEND is also hosting an international Pain management conference in Jersey which will see world class speakers coming to talk about managing pain, whether from an injured back, or longer term. The 14th National Conference on Pain Management is on 26th and 27th September.