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Mental Illness: Employment

Volume 455: debated on Wednesday 24 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures she is taking to promote the employment within (a) her Department and (b) public sector bodies for whom she has responsibility of people with mental illnesses in line with the advice and codes of practice produced by the Disability Rights Commission. (117083)

Under the Disability Equality Duty introduced by the Disability Discrimination Act 2005, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the related public sector bodies are required to publish and implement Disability Equality Schemes. These set out how the FCO carry out the Disability Equality Duty, monitor, and report on progress. This includes the arrangements for gathering information on the effect of policies and practices on the recruitment, development and retention of disabled employees, including those with mental health issues, and making use of that information.

As part of the disability equality scheme the FCO operates a guaranteed interview scheme for disabled applicants. Candidates with mental health issues who are classified as disabled as defined by the Disability Discrimination Act, 1995 and who meet the minimum criteria in the job specification at the shortlisting stage, are guaranteed an invitation to the next stage of assessment. To ensure fairness throughout the selection process the FCO works closely with an independent disability adviser to guarantee that reasonable adjustments are made.

The FCO is an accredited user of the Government's “two ticks” disability symbol, which denotes organisations which have a positive attitude towards disabled people. This is included on all recruitment advertising to encourage applications from disabled candidates, including those with mental health issues. To promote careers with the FCO, it has undertaken advertising with publications which directly target disabled individuals including Able, Target and Hobsons.

The FCO also participates in the Cabinet Office summer placement scheme, which offers disabled undergraduate students a six-week placement within selected FCO departments and we will be hosting five candidates in July 2007.

The public sector bodies sponsored by the department that are subject to these requirements are responsible for publishing and implementing their own disability equality schemes.