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PDA launches campaign over workplace disability ‘discrimination and abuse’

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has announced a new awareness campaign to combat “disability discrimination” in the workplace.

The PDA’s Ability Network, which represents union members with disabilities or long-term health conditions, last week (June 5) launched a new “standing up for sitting down” campaign against “disability discrimination”.

The lunchtime launch event was “well-attended” by members, with more events and weekly articles planned for the rest of June, a spokesperson told C+D.

The announcement follows the release of findings from a survey of 100 PDA members conducted in February, March and April that “demonstrates the level of discrimination and abuse that PDA members with disabilities face at work”, the union said.

Read more: Pharmacy lights out protest: PDA warns against ‘dire consequences’

The survey, which represented 73% of the PDA Ability Network’s membership, found that 69% of respondents said they have a disability or long-term health condition, the spokesperson added.

Over half (52%) of members polled had experienced disability discrimination at work, they said.


“Excluded from the workforce”


The survey also found that two-fifths (40%) of respondents felt “excluded from the workforce, underemployed or unemployed” due to their disability.

More than two-thirds (68%) of participants said their employer had not or only partly provided “reasonable adjustments” to accommodate their disabilities in the workplace, the spokesperson added.

Read more: RPS calls for mandatory pharmacist learning disability and autism training

Meanwhile, 30% stated that they had not disclosed their condition to their employer.

Describing the nature of their condition, 56% of respondents said it affected their physical health, 26% said mental health, 22% said neurodiversity and 13% said they were sensory impaired, while 18% selected “other”.


“Zero tolerance for discrimination”


The PDA Ability Network said that it wants to “create a culture where there is zero tolerance for discrimination”.

One member said that they were called a “lazy cow” by a co-worker after using a chair while checking prescriptions, it added.

The “standing up for sitting down” campaign seeks to ensure that members
“understand their rights” under the Equality Act, according to the PDA.

Read more: The university schooling its students on equality, diversity and inclusion

It also calls on employers to make “appropriate and ongoing reasonable adjustments” for employees with disabilities or underlying health conditions, it said.

Co-ordinator for the PDA Ability Network Liz Larkin appealed for more pharmacists with disabilities or long-term health conditions to join the network and support its campaign.

Larkin said that the campaign’s goal is for these pharmacists, including students and trainees, to be able to perform their jobs “without disadvantage”.

Read more: Answered: Can you afford to hire a technician with a disability?

She added that the PDA Ability Network will work to “ensure that the pharmacy sector develops and implements an inclusive culture”.

It comes as the PDA last week warned that pharmacy contractors “must not” adjust pharmacists’ pay or “pressure” them into taking part in protest action on June 20

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