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Negotiating 'Difference': Representing Disabled Employees in the British Workplace


  • Deborah Foster
  • Patricia Fosh


Drawing on qualitative interviews with disabled employees, union officers and disability-related organizations, this article examines employee attempts to negotiate workplace adjustments and associated issues of workplace representation. UK employment law utilizes an individual medical model of disability, which conflicts with traditional collective approaches favoured by trade unions, which has implications for disabled employees and union representation. We explore the different strategies available to unions and conclude that, despite the role played by disability-related organizations in supporting employees, unions are the only workplace actors who are capable of reconfiguring the 'personal as political' and integrating disability concerns into wider organizational agendas. Copyright (c) Blackwell Publishing Ltd/London School of Economics 2009.

Suggested Citation

  • Deborah Foster & Patricia Fosh, 2010. "Negotiating 'Difference': Representing Disabled Employees in the British Workplace," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 48(3), pages 560-582, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:brjirl:v:48:y:2010:i:3:p:560-582

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lisa Schur, 2003. "Employment and the Creation of an Active Citizenry," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 41(4), pages 751-771, December.
    2. Paul Osterman, 2006. "Community Organizing and Employee Representation," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 44(4), pages 629-649, December.
    3. Linda Dickens, 2007. "The Road is Long: Thirty Years of Equality Legislation in Britain," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 45(3), pages 463-494, September.
    4. Edmund Heery & Carola Frege, 2006. "New Actors in Industrial Relations," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 44(4), pages 601-604, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gail Pacheco & Dom Page & Don Webber, 2012. "Mental and physical health: reconceptualising the relationship with employment propensity," Working Papers 20121206, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.
    2. Deborah Foster & Peter Scott, 2015. "Nobody's responsibility: the precarious position of disabled employees in the UK workplace," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(4), pages 328-343, July.
    3. repec:gam:jlawss:v:5:y:2016:i:2:p:17:d:67659 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Rupert Harwood, 2016. "Can International Human Rights Law Help Restore Access to Justice for Disabled Workers?," Laws, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(2), pages 1-23, April.

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