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Mental Illness: Employment

Volume 456: debated on Tuesday 6 February 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures he is taking actively to promote the employment within (a) his Department and (b) public sector bodies for whom he has responsibility of people with mental illnesses in line with the advice and codes of practice produced by the Disability Rights Commission. (117082)

Under the disability equality duty introduced by the Disability Discrimination Act 2005, my Department and the public sector bodies for which I am responsible are required to publish and implement disability equality schemes. These are plans setting out how we will carry out the disability equality duty, monitor, and report on progress. In particular this includes our arrangements for gathering information on the effect of our policies and practices on the recruitment, development and retention of our disabled employees, including those with mental health conditions, and making use of that information.

DEFRA is committed to providing equal opportunities for all candidates during the selection process, to enable us to select staff from a diverse pool of talent. Part of that commitment is that we guarantee an interview to any candidate who has declared a disability, as defined by the Act, provided they meet the minimum (essential eligibility) criteria for the post in question, as set out in the job advertisement. This is referred to as the two ticks scheme. There are also duties under the employment provisions in Part 2 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 not to discriminate against, and to make reasonable adjustments for, disabled job applicants and employees. Online guidance is provided to managers and disabled employees on how these requirements are to be met.

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