Workforce Disability Equality Standard

What is the Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES)?

The Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) is a set of ten specific measures (metrics) which enables NHS organisations to compare the workplace and career experiences of Disabled and non-disabled staff.

Aims of the Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES)

The aim is to use the metrics data to develop and publish an action plan and together with year on year comparison. This will enable us to demonstrate progress against the indicators of disability equality.

Workforce Disability Equality Standard Action Plan

View our WDES action plan

Making a difference for Disabled staff

The WDES will enable us to better understand the experiences of our Disabled staff. Support positive change for all existing employees by creating a more inclusive environment for Disabled people.

Our workforce data - Over 7 million people or 18% of the working-age population in Britain are disabled as defined as by the Equality Act 2010 (Source: Employers' Forum on Disability).

Despite a previous campaign to improve declaration rates of protected characteristic data, there is difference in our NHS Electronic Staff Record (ESR) data vs the data taken from our most recent Our Voice survey. 

A snapshot of our workforce data held on ESR compared to the data from our most recent Our Voice survey shows:

Total No. in Workforce (as at 31/03/20)


No. that have declared a disability

135 (2.3%)


Total No. of responses to Our Voice survey


No. that have declared a disability

117 (2.9%)

WDES 2020 data collection and reporting framework

The introduction of the WDES will help to shine a light on our current practice. Show key areas for improvement in supporting our Disabled colleagues, and Disabled people who aspire to work in the NHS. The WDES time line and reporting framework is set out below.

Although national Arms Length Bodies (ALBs) organisations are not obliged to implement the WDES, in the spirit of transparency and accountability, as we do with the Workforce Race Equality Standard, it’s important that we show support for Disabled staff.



Data collection period starts

25th September 2020

“WDES Completion Surgery” optional drop-in session to answer queries on completing the surveys

24th September 2020 14:00 to 15:30


Deadline by which organisations must submit the completed WDES data spreadsheet and complete the qualitative survey form  

27th November 2020


WDES Action Plans published on public-facing website

15th January 2021


Publication of WDES report


March / April 2021

Adopting the WDES will help us to:

  • Develop a better understand of current performance and identify where progress is needed.
  • Achieve quality improvements in the working lives of Disabled colleagues.
  • Make improvements in the recruitment and retention of Disabled colleagues.
  • Have a structure for future work and prioritising of actions.
  • WDES can also support NHSBT to evidence how we are meeting our duties as set out in the Public Sector Equality Duty.

WDES Metrics

1:   Percentage of staff in Agenda for Change (AfC) pay-bands or medical and dental subgroups and very senior managers (including Executive Board members) compared with the percentage of staff in the overall workforce.

2;.   Relative likelihood of non-disabled staff compared to Disabled staff being appointed from short listing across all posts.

3:   Relative likelihood of Disabled staff compared to non-disabled staff entering the formal capability process, as measured by entry into the formal capability procedure.

4:   a. Percentage of Disabled staff compared to non-disabled staff experiencing harassment, bullying or abuse from:

  • Patients/Service users, their relatives or other members of the public
  • Managers
  • Other colleagues

      b. Percentage of Disabled staff compared to non-disabled staff saying that the last time they experienced harassment, bullying or abuse at work, they or a colleague reported it.

5:   Percentage of Disabled staff compared to non-disabled staff believing that the trust provides equal opportunities for career progression or promotion.

6:   Percentage of Disabled staff compared to non-disabled staff saying that they have felt pressure from their manager to come to work, despite not feeling well enough to perform their duties.

7:   Percentage of Disabled staff compared to non-disabled staff saying that they are satisfied with the extent to which their organisation values their work.

8:   Percentage of Disabled staff saying that their employer has made adequate adjustment(s) to enable them to carry out their work.

9:   a. The staff engagement score for Disabled staff, compared to non-disabled staff.

      b  Has your Trust taken action to facilitate the voices of Disabled staff in your organisation to be heard? (yes) or (no)

10: Percentage difference between the organisation’s Board voting membership and its organisation’s overall workforce, disaggregated:

  • By Voting membership of the Board
  • By Executive membership of the Board