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People with Disabilities - Work and Employment

  • Date: 2011/08/30 (Rev. 2014/11/28)
  • Wendy Taormina-Weiss - Disabled World
  • Synopsis : Examines employment and work issues for persons with a disability including benefits of hiring people with disabilities and related information.

Main Document

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has much to say about work and employment in relation to us as people who experience disabilities.

Equality in all areas of employment is the overall statement Article 27 within the CRPD makes. Nations that have signed and/or ratified the Convention have agreed to pursue equality of people with disabilities in all areas of employment. The Convention, in relation to employment, begins by saying:

"States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to work, on an equal basis with others; this includes the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labor market and work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities." The CRPD then says that States Parties will both safeguard and promote the realization of our right to work, to include people who acquire a disability during the course of employment, by taking appropriate steps that include legislation. It also says States Parties shall pursue a number of additional efforts in relation to people with disabilities and employment.

"States Parties," or the nations that have signed and/or ratified the CRPD, will prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in regards to every matter in all forms of employment.

This includes the conditions of recruitment, the hiring process, employment, the continuance of employment, safe and healthy working conditions, as well as career advancement. Nations that have signed and/or ratified the CRPD have agreed to protect the rights of people with disabilities on an equal basis with others, and to working conditions that are both just and favorable. These nations agree to include equal work opportunities and equal remuneration for work of equal value, as well as protection from harassment, and to redress grievances.

Nations that have signed/ratified the Convention have agreed they will ensure that people with disabilities have the ability to exercise our trade union and labor rights on an equal basis with others. These nations have agreed to enable us as people with disabilities to have effective access to vocational guidance and technical programs, as well as placement services, continuing training, and placement services. Nations that have signed/ratified the CRPD have agreed to promote both employment opportunities and career advancement for people with disabilities in the labor market, and to provide assistance with finding, obtaining, maintaining, and returning to employment.

The Convention is very explicit where work and employment of people with disabilities is concerned.

It outlines with great detail the things nations who sign it need to pursue. The CRPD continues in this regard to say that nations will promote opportunities for entrepreneurship, self-employment, and the development of cooperatives and the starting of a person's own business. It says that nations will employ people with disabilities in the public sector. The CRPD also says that nations will promote the employment of people with disabilities in the private sector through measures and policies that are appropriate and might include affirmative action programs, incentives, and additional measures.

Article 27 of the Convention says that nations will ensure reasonable accommodations are provided to people with disabilities in the workplace. It says that nations will promote vocational and professional rehabilitation, job retention, and return-to-work programs for us. The CRPD also says that nations that have signed/ratified the Convention will promote the acquisition of people with disabilities who have work experience into the open labor market.

All of this might seem to be quite a tall order - yet equality, inclusion, and fairness demands it.

What all of this means is not that people with disabilities have a right to employment, but that the government has a duty to create conditions that promote equal opportunities for people with disabilities in the workplace. It means that people with disabilities must be protected from being forced to work, and that we must have the right to access and nondiscrimination at work. Article 27 of the CRPD may also be used to demand more action where workplace discrimination is concerned.

In America, People with Disabilities are the nation's largest minority population, with nearly fifty-million individuals. People with disabilities contribute to the diversity of workplaces around the nation every single day, enhancing their competitive edge. Other businesses in this nation can also take steps in accordance with both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to integrate people with disabilities into their workforce and their customer base.

People with disabilities; maybe more than any other group of people, have the ability to adapt to different and changing situations and circumstances.

We add a variety of viewpoints that can help businesses to succeed while presenting fresh ideas related to problem solving, implementing strategies, and completing tasks. Employers who hire people with disabilities find we can positively impact their bottom line.

Recruitment and retention of employees with disabilities involves the employment of members of an untapped labor pool - one that can offer a source of skilled employees. As employees, people with disabilities can contribute to increased retention and a reduction of employee turnover; we are reliable employees who enjoy working. There are also tax incentives in place, as well as technical assistance that can assist with any accommodations that might be needed. Most of the time, any disability accommodations needed are both minor and inexpensive.

Employers can gain the benefits of hiring employees with disabilities through steps that may include:

  • Incorporating a disability focus into diversity training programs
  • Searching for qualified candidates with disabilities for job openings
  • Ensuring that training and off-site activities are accessible to employees with disabilities
  • Making sure there are internal professional development programs available to people with disabilities
  • Creating an educational system for all workers related to the value people with disabilities bring to an organization
  • Giving employees with disabilities candid, prompt feedback on their performance in the same manner as provided for individuals without disabilities
  • Taking advantage of tax credits and educational resources to provide accommodations for new employees with disabilities and ones returning to work after an injury or illness

In the United States of America, barriers to employment for people with disabilities remain, making Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities highly-relevant to us. For example; the year 2010 found an 18.6 percent employment-population ratio for people with disabilities, while the ratio for non-disabled members of society was much higher at 63.5 percent. People with disabilities in this nation who completed higher levels of education were more likely to be employed in this same year than those who had less education. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities in 2010 was 14.8 percent, while non-disabled persons experienced an unemployment rate of 9.4 percent. When comparing the unemployment rate of people with disabilities in 2010 to the rate in 2009, there was essentially no change.

It is vital for America to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its protocols, including Article 27 of the Convention.

Even during times of financial strife it is clear that people with disabilities continue to experience the greatest hardships in relation to work and employment. While America has signed the Convention, ratification of the CRPD and its protocols would send a crystal clear message to the nation's largest minority population - "We support you."

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