There are various pieces of policy and legislation across the U.K. that define Disability and cover other aspects of Disability. All four nations within the U.K. also have their own policies.
Below, you can find out more about how disability is defined in the U.K. and click on the link in the text to find out more about policies that are unique to each of the four U.K. nations.
What is a Disability in the U.K.?
22% of the U.K. population are disabled and 18% of that group are of working age.
Many people are born disabled, many people become disabled later in life. Most people’s disabilities remain with them for life, but some people are disabled by illness or injury that they can recover from after a period of healing.
Disabilities can be physical or mental. They can be visible to other people or hidden.
We know that disabled people are underemployed- even if they have the necessary qualifications. When it comes to hidden disabilities we also know that there are many barriers, both real and perceived, to ‘coming out’ as disabled in the workplace.
England, Scotland and Wales
In England, Scotland and Wales, disability is defined by the Equalities Act 2010.
‘You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.’
- ‘substantial’ means it takes much longer than it usually would to complete a daily task
- ‘long-term’ means 12 months or more
- ‘mental impairment’ includes conditions defined under the DSM or ICD
There are special rules about recurring or fluctuating conditions and certain progressive conditions meet the definition of disability from the date of diagnosis e.g. HIV, Cancer or Multiple Sclerosis.
In Northern Ireland, disability is defined by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
“A person has a disability for the purposes of this Act if he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.”