People are the lifeblood of a company. Even celebrated billionaire Richard Branson has said, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
That said, while many inroads have been made to recognise and cater for the majority of employees and customers, there are a certain subsection of people that are still falling through the cracks. That’s right, we’re talking about people with disabilities and special needs.
As a business owner, you have to ask yourself the question:
Is my business set up to cater for disabled employees and customers?
If not, you aren’t just risking losing out on a lot of potential profits, but you could unintentionally be breaking the law too.
Given the high costs of setting up a business, many owners don’t consider adding disabled facilities and access into their premises. From a businessperson’s perspective, it can cost a significant amount to incorporate disabled facilities into a company; particularly if the structure of the building needs to be altered. This may not make financial sense if you’re not sure how many people with disabilities your company will serve.
To this end, there a couple of things to consider:
- It’s the law to ensure that your facilities are user friendly for the disabled, and
- There are financing options to assist with the cost.
Here, you’ll discover how to ensure your business is set up to cater for disabled employees and customers.
The law requires you to make your premises disabled friendly
All businesses should understand the basics of what is expected of them in terms of the law. First and foremost, you need to ensure you have made what the law calls “reasonable adjustments” to the premises to fit the needs of disabled customers and employees.
These could include making doorways wider if needed, to ensure wheelchairs can fit through. A ramp may be required too if the only current access to the premises is via steps. Basically, you need to anticipate the needs of disabled people and ensure your company gives them the same level of service and access to your products and services as everyone else.
Transportation for disabled employees
If you provide company cars to your employees, you’re going to need to ensure you have a vehicle suitable for any disabled employees you may have. The good news is, vehicle modifications can be really affordable, or you can even invest in a new specialised mobility vehicle at a competitive cost.
Luckily, such transportation services are not hard to find. There are companies that specialise in in mobility vehicles. Take for example companies such as Allied Vehicles Limited, they provide all kinds of modified vehicles to suit the needs of disabled drivers. They even offer competitive payment plans to help make it more affordable.
All these solutions are fine and well, but the big thing on a businessperson’s mind is: COST
Financial help is available
If you’re worried about the cost of making changes to your premises, funding may be available. The government’s Access to Work scheme can help cover the cost of special aids and any adaptations to equipment which may need to be made.
It’s worth finding out more about the scheme and chatting to your local authority to see what type of financial aid you could be entitled to.
Overall, business owners are required by law to ensure they meet the needs of disabled employees and customers. The above are just some of the basics you need to be aware of. It’s worth finding out exactly what you need to do to ensure you’re not breaking the law or discriminating against disabled customers and employees.