Rachael Wallace
My research aims to study the strengths and shortcomings of the Equality Act 2010 in enabling disabled people fair access to the employment market.

Rachael Wallace

PhD Title:
Disability, Equality and Employment Law in the United Kingdom

Disabled people face many barriers in life, and accessing the employment market and finding employment is as important for them as it is for everyone else in society. Under the Equality Act 2010 “a person is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the person’s abilities to carry out normal day-to-day activities.” (S.6 Equality Act 2010). Disability is one of the protected characteristics under this Act.

My research aims to study the strengths and shortcomings of the Equality Act 2010 in enabling disabled people fair access to the employment market. In 2016 in the United Kingdom, disabled people were less likely to be employed than their non-disabled counterparts in society. 46.5% of disabled people were employed compared to 84% of nondisabled people. This research project will assess whether the Equality Act 2010 helps disabled people to obtain work and to maintain their employment whilst in work. My research project will assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Act and review if there is a case for reform. In addition, this research will consider whether non-legal solutions such as protest campaigns and activism could promote a change in society’s attitude to disabled people and be a catalyst for bringing about change in disabled people’s lives. The law can encourage a shift in society’s attitude, or it can inhibit the progress of change while not having any significant effect on social attitudes. It remains to be established whether non-legal methods are the way forward.

The research will use case-law analysis and data from empirical methods such as questionnaires and interviews with the disabled community and disabled charities.  A comprehensive and fact-based understanding will be developed of whether the law is working to provide equality between the disabled and non-disabled workforce. In-depth analysis of the development of equality law in the United Kingdom together with the analysis of my empirical research, will allow for the creation of innovative solutions to eliminate the disability employment gap.