Trade voices concern over plans to include pubs in Disability Act

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Related tags: Disabled people, Disability

The trade has voiced its concerns about government plans to extend employment rights for disabled people to cover pubs and other small businesses...

The trade has voiced its concerns about government plans to extend employment rights for disabled people to cover pubs and other small businesses with fewer than 15 employees.

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) will be extended to increase protection for people in almost all jobs - some of which were previously exempt - and will include people with cancer.

By 2004 small businesses will be expected to have made their premises accessible for disabled staff and interviewees to make sure no one is excluded from holding a job they are capable of doing, because of a disability.

But while licensees agree they should not be excluded from the law, concerns have been raised about the extra costs involved and the health and safety issues to be considered.

Bill Sharp, chairman of the National Parliamentary Committee of licensees, said: "Obviously pubs are not above and beyond the law but we would hope the big brewers would help their licensees with any major work."

He said he could foresee some pubs having problems with the extension of the law. "Some pub kitchens are on different floors and would need lifts putting in. There would be a massive expense involved.

"We will conform with the law but I hope it will be thought out so it doesn't mean everybody loses.

"Let's hope it benefits the people it is supposed to and doesn't bring about financial hardship for licensees who are already under a lot of pressure."

Giles Thorley, chief executive of Unique Pub Company, said: "Licensees should bear in mind that they will soon need to comply to the DDA. If licensees are planning to carry out refurbishment work at their pub, they should consider making modifications to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities as part of their plans. Unique aims to do this in the refurbishment projects which we carry out at our pubs."

Margaret Hodge, the minister for disabled people, said: "Many disabled people still face barriers in accessing services and employment. By 2004 all businesses will need to make reasonable adjustments if the physical features of their premises make access to their services unreasonably difficult for disabled people.

"We think it's right that disabled people should have an equal chance to work in these businesses too. By 2004 small businesses, like all others at the moment, will have to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees and job applicants who need them. This measure alone will help around 400,000 disabled employees."

The extension of the DDA comes as a response to the Disability Rights Task Force report and will extend the rights of more than 600,000 disabled people already in jobs and cover nearly seven million jobs previously excluded.

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