Halving the disability employment gap: vocational rehabilitation can help

Written evidence submitted by the Vocational Rehabilitation Association (July 2016) about how vocational rehabilitation can help in halving the disability employment gap.

Executive Summary

• Work is important for one’s self-esteem, social standing and ability to participate in the community as well as for the material advantages it brings to individuals and their families. Evidence suggests that the benefits of employment outweigh the risks of work and are greater than the risks of long-term unemployment or sickness absence.

• Individuals may be born with physical or intellectual disadvantages, or they may be acquired during childhood or adult life. Some progressive conditions may present in childhood or adolescence (e.g. some muscular dystrophies) and these need to be distinguished from those presenting later in life (e.g. trauma, stroke).

• Vocational rehabilitation (VR) takes three forms: Preparing those with a disability, health or mental health condition for the world of work; job retention for those in work and assisting unemployed individuals into new work.

• Important components of VR consist of the attributes of the individual, the skills/knowledge of their health professionals, the knowledge and attitudes of actual or potential employers and the assistance that is provided by the state or other insurance facility. For those with severe impairments, professionals with both health and employment skills are needed to provide individualised VR services.


• Individuals with disability need greater access to vocational rehabilitation professionals to support the journey into, or back to, work

• There needs to be more health professionals with recognised return-to-work skills to provide this service

• The government needs to incentivise employers to develop and participate in RTW programmes for its employees

• Greater access to valuable government services (e.g. Access to Work) is needed

• Effective health-related support should be available to participants in the Work Programme who consider health issues to contribute to difficulties in returning to work

Read the full evidence about how vocational rehabilitation can help in halving the disability employment gap here.