B Explanatory memorandum
by Mr Adão Silva, rapporteur
1. Throughout Europe, persons
with disabilities encounter multiple obstacles with regard to access
to and participation in the labour market. Prejudice regarding their
level of competences leads to a negative attitude of potential employers
who are not systematically willing to adapt workplaces and job descriptions
to allow for their recruitment. Fear of discrimination during the
recruitment procedure or once in a specific position also keeps
some persons with disabilities away from the labour market. Many
workplaces are not accessible to persons with disabilities and a
lack of funding is often presented as a reason for not undertaking
the necessary works. Overall, conditions are not favourable for
the employment of persons with disabilities. Too many persons with
disabilities are indeed unemployed and do not receive any specific
support to enter or return to the labour market. Promoting a disability-inclusive
workforce means preventing and combating discrimination against
persons with disabilities. It means taking action to make the inclusion
of persons with disabilities a reality.
Article 27 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights
of Persons with Disabilities lays down the obligation on the States
Parties to recognise the right of persons with disabilities to work
on an equal basis with others. This right implies an obligation
to create an “enabling and conducive environment for employment,
in both the public and private sectors”.Note
accommodation, defined as “necessary and appropriate modification
and adjustments not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden,
where needed in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities
the enjoyment or exercise on an equal basis with others of all human rights
and fundamental freedoms”Note
should be provided to persons with
disabilities who request it.
In the past 20 years, several Council of Europe member States
have adopted measures to promote the active participation of persons
with disabilities in the labour market and combat discrimination.
However, the employment rate of persons with disabilities remains
rather low and they often have lower-paid jobs. When they are employed,
“[m]ore often than their peers, they are in part-time jobs or temporary
positions, often with few possibilities for career development”.Note
4. Full inclusion of persons with disabilities in society starts
with their inclusion in mainstream schools, providing them with
tools for future active participation in the labour market. This
needs political and economic commitments to become effective.
5. Full inclusion of persons with disabilities in the workforce
requires action with regard to their recruitment, working conditions,
salary, possible promotions and the attitude towards them. It is
beneficial not only to the people employed, but to the workplace
as a whole. It sends a powerful message to customers, colleagues
or people served that the work culture promotes openness, tolerance
and respect, and can give hope and strength to young persons with
disabilities who are not yet working.
2 Aim and scope of the report
6. The motion for a resolution
at the origin of the report stresses that it is essential to shift
away from the disability-welfare approach, whereby persons with
disabilities are not considered able to work, towards promoting
a disability-inclusive labour market. It indicates that well-designed
social protection programmes can enhance the productivity and employability
of persons with disabilities and remove barriers in accessing employment.
This report aims at taking stock of the situation with a view
to making recommendations on how to promote inclusion of persons
with disabilities in the workforce and to encourage parliamentarians
to take an active role at national level with a view to implementing
the Council of Europe Disability Strategy 2017-2023.Note
In 2015, the Parliamentary Assembly already encouraged member
States to develop policies fostering the employment of persons with
this report, I see an opportunity not only to promote the employment
of persons with disabilities but also to combat prejudice and raise
awareness of their skills and the added value they can represent
in the workforce.
9. My objective is to promote best practices for an active participation
of persons with disabilities in the labour market. While it was
not possible to analyse in detail the situation in each Council
of Europe member State, I have selected several countries with different
approaches so as to present information on “protected jobs” (sheltered
employment), incentives for companies hiring, quotas, proactive
private companies with regard to the recruitment of persons with
disabilities and the implementation of anti-discrimination legislation.
10. I have received testimonies from persons with disabilities
on the difficulties they face when looking for a job or when employed.
This report was prepared respecting the motto “Nothing about us
without us” and I have tried to make sure that it carries the voices
of persons with disabilities who have felt rejected and unwelcome on
the labour market. It also presents inspiring examples showing that
having a disability-inclusive workforce can be beneficial to all.
11. In order to collect information
on the situation in each Council of Europe member State, I have
sent a questionnaire to national human rights institutions (NHRIs)
via the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions based
in Brussels, with questions on the employment rate of persons with
disabilities in the private and public sectors, legislation in force
setting out obligations on companies and public administration with
regard to the recruitment of persons with disabilities and its implementation,
access to education and sanctions for discriminatory treatment of
persons with disabilities on the labour market. I have received
replies from the NHRIs in Albania, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Georgia,
Latvia, Luxembourg, the Republic of Moldova, the Netherlands, Poland
and Portugal and would like to thank them for their contributions.
I also received a written contribution from the non-governmental
organisation Inclusion Europe.
12. I held a bilateral meeting during the January 2018 part-session
with the former Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
who made the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities
a priority of his mandate.
The Sub-Committee on Disability and Multiple and Intersectional
Discrimination held two hearings in the framework of the preparation
of this report. The first, held on 24 April 2018, examined best
practices for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the
labour market, with the participation of: Ms Edurne Alvarez De Mon, Human
Resources Senior Consultant, Foundation Once (Spain); Ms Agnès Gerber-Haupert,
Director General of Action et Compétence (France); and Mr David
Kennaugh, small business owner (France). The second, held on 26
June 2018, dealt with combating discrimination in access to employment
with the participation of: Ms Kimberly McIntosh, Policy Officer
at the Runnymede Trust (United Kingdom); Mr James Crowe, President of
the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities
(EASPD, United Kingdom); and Ms Aletta Gräfin von Hardenberg, Director
of the German Diversity Charter Initiative from Germany (via video conference).
This second hearing contributed not only to the preparation of this
report but also to the report by Mr Damien Thiéry (Belgium, ALDE)
on “Discrimination in access to employment”.Note
14. I collected more information on the situation in Denmark during
my fact-finding visit to the country on 10 and 11 September 2018.
I would like to thank the Danish Parliament for the excellent support
provided during the visit and all the people who gave their insights
into the situation in Denmark. I was particularly impressed when
I visited the building called “Disability house” hosting more than
30 organisations providing support to persons with disabilities
in Taastrup. It is considered one of the most inclusive buildings
in the world as every square meter can be considered accessible.
This building shows that ensuring full accessibility is a reachable goal.
In my view, it should be used to inspire new constructions, ensuring
that the working environment is disability friendly.
for persons with disabilities on the labour market
As already mentioned, one of
the main challenges faced by persons with disabilities on the labour
market is the stigma around their level of competences. Often, a
person with disabilities is seen as less able than another person
to perform the same tasks, without any objective reason. According
to Eric Molinié, Secretary General of Daskia (a subsidiary of the
company Electricité de France), “stereotypes are the main obstacle
to the integration of persons with disabilities”. Hiring a person
with disabilities “means learning to consider a person in all their
dimensions. The presence of a person with disabilities obliges a
team to be better organised. This situation creates solidarities”.Note
16. A research project is currently being carried out at the University
of Strasbourg to measure the level of bias against persons with
disabilities. As an example, participants in one of the experiments
received photographs showing the same group of people sitting at
a table, but taken from different angles. In one photograph, only
the faces of the people sitting at the table are visible. In a second
photograph, taken from a wider angle, it can be seen that one of
the people sitting at the table is in a wheelchair. Participants
replied that the person in the wheelchair seemed less competent
than the others, without having any other information. They were
surprised to find out this person had the highest level of responsibilities.
Negative stereotyping against persons with disabilities has
an impact on the attitude of potential employers and future colleagues,
therefore affecting the participation of persons with disabilities
in the labour market. The way society looks at persons with disabilities
needs to change. This will only happen if more persons with disabilities
hold positions of high responsibility in public administrations,
private businesses, media, academia and politics. Hiring persons
with disabilities “gives the individuals independence and empowers
them in their everyday life, but also raises awareness in others
(colleagues and/or customers) of their capabilities”.Note
Awareness should be raised about
the fact that persons with disabilities represent an added value
in the workplace and have a lot to contribute.
18. There are also stereotypes with regard to the kind of jobs
persons with disabilities can have. While all jobs might not be
accessible, many of them, provided arrangements are made, can be
held by persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are
too often thought able to work in only some specific fields. Stereotypes with
regard to the abilities of persons with disabilities need to be
19. David Kennaugh, a small business owner living in France who
suffers from a genetic disease that has caused considerable impairment
to his vision since the age of 16, shared his personal experience
in the workplace with the Sub-Committee on Disability, Multiple
and Intersectional Discrimination on 24 April 2018: “It is time
to move beyond stereotypes. Years ago, a visually impaired person
was steered towards being a telephone operator or physiotherapist.
Today, new technologies provide access to many professions, enable rapid
information transfer and facilitate inclusion of persons with disabilities
in the work environment. Unfortunately, attitudes are not changing”.
The priority is to make potential employers and co-workers go beyond
their apprehensions and accept persons with disabilities in the
workplace. It may require effort and investment but can be beneficial
for the enterprise or administration as a whole.
of accessibility and inclusive work cultures
20. Another major challenge is
promoting inclusion of persons with disabilities within the work
culture and inclusive working methods. It is indeed up to the employers
to adapt to persons with disabilities, to propose arrangements,
and not only up to the persons with disabilities to try to fit in
and assimilate. There can be no full inclusion if assimilation is
expected from persons with disabilities. Disability needs to be
acknowledged and recognised in order to understand fully what can
be done to facilitate the work of persons with disabilities. Efforts
must be made to adapt workplaces to the needs of persons with disabilities,
rather than offering specific or sheltered jobs.
Lack of accessibility of workplaces can also be a barrier
to the participation of persons with disabilities in the labour
market. I here refer to physical accessibility (ensuring wheelchair
access) but also accessibility in terms of working structures. For
example, hiring a person with psycho-social disabilities might not
require physical arrangements in a building, but a reflection on
work structures and a discussion on ways to accompany the newly
22. As already mentioned, I was impressed during my visit to the
“Disability house” in Taastrup. Everything was designed so as to
be inclusive. All indications and signs were in braille, meeting
rooms had chairs of different shapes so as to accommodate people
with different kinds of disabilities. The lights were adapted for people
with visual impairments and there was a rest room allowing a person
to lie down for a few minutes if necessary. Desks could be adapted
to different heights. Particular attention was paid to the choice
of different colours of the walls, allowing a better orientation.
Promoting inclusion in the labour market means taking different
needs into account.
of persons with disabilities is not a political priority
23. In general, persons with disabilities
have a higher unemployment rate. Getting out of unemployment can be
even more difficult for them. The lack of priority given to programmes
supporting persons with disabilities is also a challenge. Supported
contracts are often among the first programmes to be cut in times
of budgetary restrictions. The payment of benefits to persons with
disabilities is delayed in times of crisis, which increases the
risk of poverty. I regret that too often persons with disabilities
are not considered a priority by the authorities. Too often as well,
they are not consulted in the design of these programmes.
education is not yet a reality
As stressed by the former Council
of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Niels Muižnieks, inclusive education
is key for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the labour
market. Education in mainstream schools allows persons with disabilities
to obtain a diploma and life and social skills which are essential
for their inclusion in the workforce.Note
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities highlights that access to inclusive education, including
vocational training, must be guaranteed and adapted to all. “In
order for persons with disabilities to increase their employability,
there needs to be a robust teaching and support system in schools
to help them develop confidence, life and social skills.”Note
Inclusive education is the most
powerful tool to prevent and combat prejudice against persons with
disabilities. The more children with disabilities are included in
mainstream schools, the more their place in society will be acknowledged.
In addition, there are not yet solid bridges to professional
life. It is more difficult for a person with disabilities to find
a first internship or job than for others. Supporting internship
programmes and programmes for access to employment is essential.
Although Germany’s work culture is often presented as inclusive,
the German Institute for Human Rights deplores the fact that much
of the training intended specifically for persons with disabilities
is unsuited to the requirements of the labour market.Note
against persons with disabilities
Discrimination against persons
with disabilities when looking for a job or when already employed
is still a reality. However, State Parties to the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities “have an obligation
to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability and must ensure
that persons with disabilities are protected from discrimination”.Note
the meaning of the Convention, “[p]rotection from discrimination
covers all forms of employment: in the open labour market as well
as in sheltered or supported employment schemes”.Note
the European Union, Directive 2000/78 EC establishes a general framework
for equal treatment in employment and occupation and protects persons
with disabilities from discrimination on the labour market.
28. According to Didier Marcyan, regional representative of AGEFIPH
(Association de gestion du fonds pour l’insertion professionnelle
des personnes handicapées – Fund Management Organisation for the
Professional Integration of Persons with Disabilities, France),
persons with disabilities face tremendous difficulties when seeking
their first job as well as a clear “vulnerability” in all phases
of professional transition. Attention should be paid to risks of
interrupting their periods of employment and compensatory measures.
First access and return to the labour market need to be accompanied.
Once employed, follow-up is needed so as to ensure that the person
stays in employment. Vulnerability also encompasses adaptation times,
which might not always fit within a tight calendar of economic efficiency.
Before a person with a disability can be effective, he or she has to
learn to work differently. A balance should be found between reasonable
time of adaptation and expectations with regard to immediate efficiency.
A high flexibility to hire and fire anyone, including persons with
disabilities, might not provide the safe and fair working environment
needed for persons with disabilities.
Specific attention should be paid to the situation of women
with disabilities, who “are particularly disadvantaged in the labour
market due to the fact that they frequently experience multiple
discrimination based on their gender and their disability status”.Note
“The challenges faced by women with
disabilities, related to the difficulty of securing employment,
extra disability-related costs and lack of control over their own
property or money due to laws on legal capacity, often make them
doubly disadvantaged in working life. In the few countries that
have employment data available, disaggregated by disability, gender
and type of work, women are consistently under-represented in all
categories of employment, with their representation being drastically lower
in management positions.”Note
30. People with psycho-social disabilities who are deprived of
their legal capacity cannot sign a work contract or have access
to the salary they have earned. Guardianship systems prevent them
from managing their working lives and can make them more subject
to discrimination. People with psycho-social disabilities are more
often in a situation of unemployment than people with other kinds
of disabilities according to information provided by Inclusion Europe.
This was confirmed by the LEV organisation in Denmark.
of persons with disabilities in the labour market
31. Statistical data on the participation
of persons with disabilities in the workforce is not systematically collected
at the national level and persons with disabilities are not always
included in unemployment statistics, which can give a biased view
of the situation. In my view, national unemployment statistics should
also include persons with disabilities, who need to be treated as
fully fledged citizens.
32. I have received information from several national human rights
institutions with regard to the situation at the national level
that I can partially relay in this report. In Denmark, 56% of persons
with disabilities are employed, with a difference between women
(53%) and men (59%). In Georgia, 55 persons with disabilities are
employed in the public sector out of a total of 46 000 civil servants.
3 535 persons with disabilities are employed in the private sector.
33. In Luxembourg, according to the latest official statistics,
there are more than 3 900 workers with disabilities aged between
17 and 64. In the Netherlands, 13.7% of persons with disabilities
are unemployed, while the global unemployment rate is 5.5% of the
population. In France, according to official figures, 513 505 persons
with disabilities are unemployed. 79% of companies with more than
20 employees employ workers with disabilities in France. In Belgium,
41% of people with a disability are employed.
In Portugal, the employment rate of persons with disabilities
is 62.6% in the age group 25-34 years and 68,3% in the age group
35-44 years. 16 170 persons with disabilities are currently working
in the public sector. In 2016, there were 10 789 workers with disabilities
employed in the private sector. In Portugal, 24.4% of persons with
disabilities who work in the public sector are working at the Ministry
of Education. In Spain, only one in five persons with disabilities
is working. In the Republic of Moldova, persons with disabilities
represent less than 1% of the people in employment. In Poland, 416 000
persons with disabilities are employed and their overall employment
rate is 27.7%. Anka Slonjšak, Croatian Defender of the rights of
persons with disabilities, reported that of the 250 000 people who
are of working age in Croatia, 17 000 persons with disabilities
were employed in 2017.Note
In the absence of comparable disaggregated data on the employment
of persons with disabilities, it is difficult to state that people
with a specific kind of disability suffer more from unemployment
than others. Mencap (United Kingdom) reports that 6% of adults with
a learning disability are in paid work, while 47% of people aged
16 to 64 with any kind of disability are in paid work.Note
Data collection in this field needs
to be further encouraged so as to have a realistic picture of specific
needs depending on the type of disability.
to improve the participation of persons with disabilities in the
in inclusive education and innovation
36. Participation of persons with
disabilities can be improved through the adoption of a set of divers
and concrete measures. As already stressed, there can be no tangible
increase in the access of persons with disabilities to the workforce
if there is no high and long-term investment in education. During
our hearing in Strasbourg on 24 April 2018, David Kennaugh highlighted
that the best education – whether specialised or inclusive – was
the one that best prepared people for future employment. In his
view, specialised schools could teach people how to be more effective
in managing their disability and how to cope with the environment.
The Job and Development Centre for deaf and hard of hearing people
at Castberggård in Denmark provides training and specific preparation
for the labour market for deaf people. It also accompanies companies
willing to hire deaf and hard-of-hearing people by providing counselling,
notably on equipment which might be needed.
37. I would nevertheless advocate for inclusive mainstream schools
whenever it is possible, with specialised assistance for children
with disabilities. Exclusion from mainstream schools can have an
impact on future participation in the labour market.
According to Dominique Lerch, former Director of the French
National Higher Institute for training and research for the education
of young persons with disabilities, “[t]here can be no inclusion
in the workforce if there is no inclusive education”.Note
I welcome the fact that the majority
of children with disabilities go to mainstream schools notably in
Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Spain.
39. The public sector and private companies should be encouraged
to hire trainees with disabilities so as to allow them to get experience
and increase their chances of finding a job on the labour market.
Internships provide a first experience of adapting to a professional
environment, which can be crucial. Vocational training and life-long
learning need to be further developed as well.
Investing in innovation in parallel with inclusive education
can boost the access of persons with disabilities to the labour
market. In France, in 2010, AGEFIPH supported the creation of an
HGV driving simulator equipped with an automated gearbox. This innovation
has enabled more than 120 people with motor disabilities to obtain
an HGV driving licence and gain access to employment. In view of
this success, the French administrative authorities amended the
legal conditions for obtaining an HGV licence, which had previously been
This example shows that support for technological
developments can lead to more inclusion on the labour market.
protected or sheltered jobs
41. Reserved, protected or sheltered
jobs are a positive measure to promote the employment of persons with
disabilities. While their effects can be beneficial, offering such
jobs should not delay investments towards a more inclusive labour
market, which is essential for full inclusion in society.
Quotas for persons with disabilities can be considered a first
measure to increase their employment rate. In Albania, an employer
is required to hire a person with disabilities for every 25 employees.
Failure to do so leads to a monthly financial penalty equal to the
minimum wage, which is paid to the National Employment Fund. This
money is then used to create jobs for persons with disabilities.
In Cyprus, 10% of jobs in the public sector are reserved for persons
with disabilities. In France, an enterprise/administration with
more than 20 employees must hire a number of persons with disabilities
representing 6% of its workforce (in the public sector the real
rate is currently 5.2% while in the private sector it is 3.4%).Note
this quota not be reached, the employer pays a financial contribution
to AGEFIPH, which promotes the integration of persons with disabilities in
the labour market.
43. In Luxembourg, public administrations have the obligation
to recruit a number of persons with disabilities corresponding to
5% of the total number of people employed full time. There are no
obligations for private businesses with less than 25 employees.
A company with more than 25 employees should recruit at least one person
with disabilities full time. A company with more than 50 employees
should allocate at least 2% of its posts to persons with disabilities.
A company with more than 300 employees is asked to reserve at least
4% of its jobs to persons with disabilities. Employers who do not
respect these quotas have to pay a tax of 50% of the social minimum
wage for each worker with disabilities they did not employ, which
is a strong incitement to hire persons with disabilities.
44. In the Republic of Moldova, the labour code exempts persons
with disabilities from having a probationary period when they start
a job. Companies or administrations with more than 20 employees
should hire 5% of persons with disabilities. In Poland, employers
with 25 employees or more are required to have at least 6% of persons
with disabilities in their staff. A payment has to be made to the
State Fund for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities in case
of non-compliance. In Spain, the law requires companies with more
than 50 employees to recruit at least 2% of workers with disabilities.
In the public sector, a new law dating from March 2018 obliges companies
to comply with this quota in order to be awarded public contracts.
45. Mr James Crowe, President of the European Association of Service
Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) finds quotas controversial
since they can easily be circumvented through the payment of annual
fines. In his view, quotas introduce a concept of charity for persons
with disabilities instead of recognising their value on the labour
market. He also expresses concerns with regard to some persons with disabilities
staying in sheltered settings while they could work in the open
labour market. Supported employment in the open labour market with
job coaches who would gradually pull out, should be further encouraged.
46. Reserving jobs can also mean using a priority criterion for
persons with disabilities. Disability can be qualified as a priority
criterion during recruitment processes, meaning that a candidate
with disabilities will have priority over another candidate if they
have similar qualifications.
an incentive-based employment policy to an inclusive employment
47. Tax benefits and support for
an adaptation of the workplace are the most common incentives for
private companies to recruit persons with disabilities. While incentives
can be useful for a given time, priority should be given to moving
from an incentive based employment policy to an inclusive employment
policy. To this end, positive measures taken by private companies
could have an important impact.
Working on this report has allowed me to discover some good
practices which I would like to promote. In the United Kingdom,
the Access to Work programme arranges funding for employers to adapt
workspaces and improve accessibility to places of employment for
persons with disabilities. In 2017, an award was granted by the
EASPD to Carrefour Spain, which employs 860 staff members with disabilities.
They were assisted in their duties by other staff and mainly worked
in stacking shelves. The enterprise, “Discovering Hands”, based in
Germany, Colombia and Austria, also received an award from the EAPSD
in 2017 for employing 31 blind and visually impaired women, who
provided an innovative medical diagnosis service. They use only
their sense of touch to diagnose cancer in patients at a very early
49. In Denmark, public authorities are convinced of the importance
of inclusion of persons with disabilities in the mainstream labour
market. Within each of the 98 municipalities, specific services
take care of the professional integration of persons with disabilities
and help them find jobs corresponding to their skills. They also
manage subsidy programmes for companies hiring workers with disabilities
to adapt their workspace or to hire an assistant who would help
carrying out daily tasks. For example, a deaf employee is accompanied
by two sign language interpreters in the municipality of Taastrup.
An assistant will help a blind employee to perform certain tasks
which cannot be carried out alone. It is possible to hire an assistant
for up to 20 hours per week, although it is often for fewer hours.
With regard to access to public employment, persons with disabilities
can be given priority and guaranteed to be invited to an interview.
50. Flex jobs are another example of good practice in Denmark.
These are jobs within companies, for which the employer will only
pay for the work done by the employee with disabilities, and the
municipality will give a compensatory allowance to the company.
For example, if a person with a disability is hired for 30 hours
but does 10 hours of actual work, the company will pay 10 hours
of work and the municipality the rest (20 hours). Flex jobs are
sometimes criticised because of the high level of bureaucracy and
the time needed for the municipality to give its agreement to recognise
a job as a flex job. I wish to stress that there are no quotas for the
employment of persons with disabilities in Denmark but there are
strong measures to accompany them on the labour market.
I would also like to mention the “Entity Inclusive Brand”,
which rewards companies for adopting inclusive policies for persons
with disabilities in Portugal. Eleven companies were rewarded for
the first time in November 2017. There can also be awards within
a large company, such as the Disability Initiatives Trophies awarded
every two years in the L’Oréal group, rewarding branches for their
actions for the inclusion of persons with disabilities.Note
In France, AGEFIPH finances projects promoting professional
integration and runs networks of professionals. It supports both
persons with disabilities and employers in adapting workplaces.
In Spain, the Inserta association accompanies job seekers with disabilities.
It interviews them to define expectations and qualifications and
to determine how they match the needs of the labour market. It provides
training on writing curricula vitae and cover letters, coaching
and vocational training. Recruitment processes should be more disability-friendly.
To this end, educating professionals about disability so as to overcome
prejudice is essential.Note
Accompanying persons with disabilities to develop their potential
is a crucial way forward. The Spanish Foundation ONCE offers training
to persons with disabilities tailored to the demands of the job
market. It also has a specific programme to empower entrepreneurs
with disabilities, with a 100-hour online course on digital marketing,
financial management, viability plans and applications for grants.Note
Self-employment can provide more
flexibility for persons with disabilities as well as “a sense of
self-empowerment because entrepreneurship can provide a person with
the opportunity to take control of their disability and labour market
participation, and be socially and economically active”.Note
The adoption of diversity charters by companies can also have
a positive impact, provided that the commitments are implemented
by the signatories. The German Diversity Charter initiative, signed
by more than 3 000 companies covers six grounds of discrimination:
origin, sexual orientation, gender and gender identity, religion,
age and disability.Note
It was initiated by private companies
and provides a platform to share best practices to promote diversity
in the workplace. Signatories commit to actions for increasing diversity.
When mentioning incentives, we can also discuss social benefits
for persons with disabilities. According to James Crowe, discontinuing
such benefits when a person has found employment can undermine the motivation
to find a job. Social benefits might be difficult to obtain should
the employment stop.Note
for non-compliance and discrimination
56. In order to trigger concrete
change, sanctions should be applied for non-compliance with quotas
set by law for the employment of persons with disabilities. They
often exist but are not systematically applied. I regret that even
if there are cases when foreseen sanctions are applied for non-compliance,
some enterprises prefer paying a fine rather than recruiting persons
with disabilities. This can make us question the efficiency of financial
sanctions. Rather than imposing a disability-inclusive workplace
with quotas, a change of vision of society where each person is
able to find a place should be promoted.
57. The principle of reasonable accommodation should also be further
promoted. In the spirit of the United Nations Convention on the
Rights of Persons with Disabilities, not providing reasonable accommodation
in a place of work to enable a person with disabilities to carry
out daily tasks can be qualified as discrimination. Sanctions should
therefore be applied for lack of reasonable accommodation. In Denmark,
a worker who becomes disabled may be awarded six to nine months
salary in compensation for the loss of a job due to the lack of
accommodation of a work space.
with disabilities are an added value in a workplace
Edurne Alvarez De Mon, senior
human resources adviser at the ONCE Foundation and its Inserta association
(Spain), highlighted during our hearing in April the added value
that persons with disabilities can bring to the workplace. In her
view, opening the labour market to persons with disabilities can
be profitable to companies and help them reach out to new customers
and can contribute to improving the services to customers with disabilities.
According to the ILO, from an economic point of view, it can also
contribute to productivity due to low levels of absenteeism and
low levels of turnover.Note
59. In Spain, Inserta has invested in awareness raising on the
capacities of persons with disabilities with campaigns such as “Never
Give Up”, which featured young persons with disabilities who had
found a job, even in the context of the economic crisis. Recruiting
persons with disabilities means hiring special talents. As stressed
by Ms Alvarez De Mon, the focus should no longer be on disabilities
but on the abilities of candidates.
“The experience of disability, in particular, often means
people develop resilience, problem solving, empathy and creativity”,
according to Liz Sayce, Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK.Note
Being in employment is also beneficial to persons with disabilities.
According to Anni Soresen from the organisation LEV in Denmark,
it can improve quality of life with an increase in the level of
income, have a positive impact on health, provide motivation and
boost self-esteem and self-confidence.Note
62. An overall change in mindsets is needed regarding the abilities
of persons with disabilities and their inclusion in the labour market.
During my fact-finding visit to Denmark, several interlocutors insisted
on the need to make persons with disabilities aware of their abilities
and to communicate on the added value represented by greater diversity
in the workplace. Campaigns, including by the Glad Foundation, have
been conducted to communicate the experience of teams that have
integrated persons with disabilities and had a positive experience.
63. There are still many barriers
to the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in the workforce.
Despite efforts made in past years in several Council of Europe
member States, the level of employment of persons with disabilities
both in the private and public sector remains unsatisfactory. More
needs to be done both in the private and the public sectors to make
inclusion of persons with disabilities in the workforce a reality.
64. Awareness raising on the added value of the participation
of persons with disabilities in the workforce is essential for a
change of mindsets. In a world where quick results are expected,
adapting a workplace for a colleague with disabilities is all too
often considered a loss of time and efficiency. The inclusion of
persons with disabilities in the workforce is not only a question
of political will but also of the readiness of private companies to
welcome diversity in their entities and recognise it as an added
value. It is high time to dispel the myth according to which persons
with disabilities cannot work as efficiently as others and to highlight
abilities instead of disabilities.
In order to ensure inclusion in the workforce, specialised
support needs to be provided to employers, co-workers and potential
employees. Adapting a workplace does not only mean making physical
rearrangements. Reasonable accommodation can include the adjustment
of equipment, modification of a job description, working time and
organisation, as well as adaptation of the work space.Note
also need support to prepare for the arrival of a disabled person
and to adopt a positive attitude. We need to realise that a change of
culture for a disability-friendly working environment can take some
time to materialise. I would like to highlight that managers and
chief executive officers play a key role in changing the organisational
66. Persons with disabilities are vulnerable when trying to access
the labour market. They are also vulnerable when they are employed.
While sheltered employment is not a sustainable solution, it can
provide an opportunity to gain experience before entering the open
labour market. Guaranteeing a sufficient level of income to ensure
financial stability is essential. Accompanying persons with disabilities
on the labour market is necessary. Specific human resource services
or foundations providing coaching and implementing projects to boost
the employability of persons with disabilities have proved their
efficiency and could serve as an inspiration. Specific programmes
also need to be set up for reintegration of people who develop a
disability when already in employment.
67. Businesses and administrations welcoming persons with disabilities
need to be valorised and promoted. The creation of inclusion awards
or inclusion labels could therefore be considered.
68. The Assembly should call for the implementation of the principles
of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
and request an inclusive, accessible and safe working environment
for persons with disabilities which allows them to work in fair
conditions and enjoy equal opportunities. As a precondition for
improving their living conditions and access to work, we should
specifically urge public authorities to take concrete action to
ensure that all public buildings and means of transport are accessible
to persons with disabilities.
69. Assistive technologies can be a game changer with regard to
the participation of persons with disabilities in the workforce.
Supporting research to develop new assistive technologies is essential
to continue progressing towards full inclusion.
70. I also believe that the Assembly should ask the Council of
Europe member States to disaggregate the data collected on the employment
of persons with disabilities by gender, age and type of disability
so as to enable the tailoring of measures to existing situations.
71. The participation of persons with disabilities in the workforce
is a condition for their full inclusion in society. There is, however,
no simple or single action or solution to increase their employment
rate. Actions at multiple levels are required to encourage the participation
of persons with disabilities – with a diversity of disabilities
– in the workforce, to ensure equal access and treatment and to
change the attitude of employers. Comprehensive inclusion plans
with priority given to inclusive education and access to employment,
in the spirit of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities, are a step in the right direction. They
have however to be accompanied by sufficient financial investments
in order to have a tangible impact.