Claims for disability benefits are surging in industrialized countries - up to 600 percent in some nations - encouraging governments, private companies and unions to search for ways to get disabled people back to work, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO).
Discriminatory practices continue to deny persons with disabilities, as well as workers who become disabled, access to work. Two-thirds of the unemployed respondents with disabilities said they would like to work but could not find jobs.
An estimated 386 million of the world's working-age people have some kind of disability, says the International Labor Organization (ILO). Unemployment among the persons with disabilities is as high as 80 per cent in some countries. Of the some 70 million persons with disabilities in India, only about 100,000 have succeeded in obtaining employment in industry.
A 2004 United States survey found that only 35 per cent of working-age persons with disabilities are in fact working, compared to 78 per cent of those without disabilities. One third of the employers surveyed said that persons with disabilities cannot effectively perform the required job tasks. The second most common reason given for not hiring persons with disabilities was the fear of costly special facilities.
Unions are becoming involved in the return to work through the direct provision of services, and through disability management programs in the workplace, the ILO says. The ILO study also finds that private insurance providers are introducing more flexible arrangements so that workers who become disabled and who attempt a gradual transition to work do not lose their benefits. Companies are looking for ways to reduce costs by introducing disability management programs in the workplace. Thousands of persons with disabilities have been successful as small business owners, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
45 countries have anti-discrimination and other disability-specific laws. Recent changes in national laws to promote the employment of disabled persons have often not been adequate to assist individuals with new types of impairments. This is particularly true for those workers suffering from the "new" occupational diseases, for example those related to stress and repetitive strain injury, and for those who have invisible disabilities, such as mental illness and chronic pain, that do not fall within the scope of legal definitions in some countries.
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