Findings about the levels of bullying of disabled people in the workplace have led to changes in policy, promoting equality and improving workplace environments.


  • Recommendations from the Work fit for All report were incorporated into the 2010 Equality Act.
  • Later findings have been adopted as a key benchmark for UK public policy on people with disability.
  • The research was cited by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in its submission under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - a multilateral treaty adopted by the UN General Assembly.
  • The research has proved valuable for NGOs and trade unions, such as Unison (for example in their booklet Harassment at Work) and the Wales TUC, because it removed obstacles to addressing the organisational roots of ill-treatment. NGOs also used the research to lobby for changes to policy and legislation. For example, the Citizens Advice Bureau referred to it in their submission on the Equality Bill.
  • The UK Government's Fair Treatment at Work Survey used questions developed in the ESRC research and for which Professor Fevre was the lead author. The survey was widely referred to in the EHRC's influential 2010 report How fair is Britain? Equality, Human Rights and Good Relations in 2010.
  • The research into treatment for employees with disabilities provided one of the UK’s Equality Performance Indicators, which was used to monitor the Government's Independent Living Strategy in England. It was also used by public bodies including local and devolved government organisations to measure improvements in the treatment of people with disabilities. For example, the research led to the Welsh Government making reducing the bullying of disabled people one of its five equality objectives.
  • The research is also widely used within the NHS. For example, it was the focus of a workshop at the NHS confederation national conference in 2012 chaired by the then Chair of the Confederation Sir Keith Pearson and attended by NHS Board members. The research has informed the ongoing debate focused on the Francis inquiry into Mid Staffordshire hospitals.

"Trouble at Work is an incredibly helpful piece of research, invaluable to anyone who cares about the situation of disabled people at work. It adds to our understanding of the issues and supports the work of both advocates and regulators." (Alan Christie, EHRC Director of Policy 2007-2012)

About the research

Employees with disabilities and long-term health problems are far more likely to be ill-treated in the workplace, according to an ESRC-funded study. The study, led by Professor Ralph Fevre from Cardiff University, is the largest national representative study of ill-treatment of UK employees in the workplace to date. It found that employees with a disability or long-term illness reported they were more likely to have negative experiences at work.

For example, 13.4 per cent of people with a disability or long-term illness said they had been humiliated or ridiculed in connection with their work, compared to 8.7 per cent for people without a disability. Also, 11.6 per cent of people with a disability said they had experienced actual physical violence at work, compared to 5.5 per cent of people without a disability.

The research findings have had significant impacts amongst policymakers, industry stakeholders and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). They have also influenced the way in which HR managers, trade union representatives and employment consultants construct problems in the workplace. Finally, they have improved understanding of the incidence and profile of workplace violence - not only amongst the general public, but also amongst practitioners, particularly in health and social care.

The findings about the extent and nature of workplace violence led to the publication of two reports, Work fit for All in 2008 and Insight Into Ill-treatment In The Workplace in November 2011, as well as a book, Trouble at Work, in 2012.