Employing the disabled

Creating employment opportunities for the disabled
Ensuring equal employment opportunities for the handicapped
Improving integration in the workplace of persons with disabilities
Providing for disabled workers
The unemployment rate among disabled people is more than double the workforce as a whole, and often higher. Many of the obstacles which people face in the search for jobs and at work arise as much, if not more, from social barriers, than from a genuine inability to work Unemployment among disabled persons is significantly higher than in the workforce as a whole - at least double this rate, but often higher, with some countries reporting a rate as high as 80% of the labour force of disabled persons. There are approximately 610 million persons with disabilities in the world, of whom 386 million are of working age, and 80% live in developing countries, mostly in rural areas. Until relatively recently, most employment opportunities for people with disabilities were created through the establishment of sheltered workshops and other non-market based programmes. While still important for some target groups, these approaches serve only a small percentage of those needing help, are usually expensive and normally provide skills with limited relevance to changing markets. Human resources development planning seldom gives explicit attention to ensuring equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Policy-makers are seldom aware of the capacity of mainstream systems to accommodate people with disabilities.

States should recognize the principle that persons with disabilities must be empowered to exercise their human rights, particularly in the field of employment. In both rural and urban areas they must have equal opportunities for productive and gainful employment in the labour market.

(1) Laws and regulations in the employment field must not discriminate against persons with disabilities and must not raise obstacles to their employment.

(2) States should actively support the integration of persons with disabilities into open employment. This active support could occur through a variety of measures, such as vocational training, incentive-oriented quota schemes, reserved or designated employment, loans or grants for small business, exclusive contracts or priority production rights, tax concessions, contract compliance or other technical or financial assistance to enterprises employing workers with disabilities. States should also encourage employers to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate persons with disabilities.

(3) States' action programmes should include: (a) Measures to design and adapt workplaces and work premises in such a way that they become accessible for persons with different disabilities: (b) Support for the use of new technologies and the development and production of assistive devices, tools and equipment and measures to facilitate access to such devices and equipment for persons with disabilities, to enable them to gain and maintain employment; (c) Provision of appropriate training and placement and ongoing support such as personal assistance and interpreter services.

(4) States should initiate and support public awareness-raising campaigns designed to overcome negative attitudes and prejudices concerning workers with disabilities.

(5) In their capacity as employers, states should create favourable conditions for the employment of persons with disabilities in the public sector.

(6) States, workers' organizations and employers should cooperate to ensure equitable recruitment and promotion policies, employment conditions, rates of pay, measures to improve the work environment in order to prevent injuries and impairments and measures for the rehabilitation of employees who have sustained employment-related injuries.

(7) The aim should always be for persons with disabilities to obtain employment in the open labour market. For persons with disabilities whose needs cannot be met in open employment, small units of sheltered or supported employment may be an alternative. It is important that the quality of such programmes be assessed in terms of their relevance and sufficiency in providing opportunities for persons with disabilities to gain employment in the labour market.

(8) Measures should be taken to include persons with disabilities in training and employment programmes in the private and informal sectors.

(9) States, workers' organizations and employers should cooperate with organizations of persons with disabilities concerning all measures to create training and employment opportunities, including flexible hours, part-time work, job-sharing, self-employment and attendant care for persons with disabilities.

The International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations specialized agency with global responsibility for labour and employment issues, provides information and policy advice on disabled persons in a form that is convincing to human resource development planners.

In 2001, ILO launched a new [Code of Practice on Managing Disability in the Workplace] to coincide with the [International Day for Disabled Person] (3rd December). It provides guidance to enterprises on how to recruit people with disabilities and maintain employment for workers who become disabled. It is the first of its kind and can be applied by all employers, in both developed and developing countries. A new guide, entitled [Unlocking Potential: The New Disability Business Case], proposes a sophisticated business case argument and end with a call to action, reminding us that business, government, trade unions and the not-for-profit sector must combine forces if business is to benefit fully from the contribution of people with disabilities.

Contribution of disabled people is being lost worldwide - to their own livelihood, to their families, to employers and to society as a whole.
Working from home
Disabled workers
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal