The problems obscure the benefits
Although many organisations understand the need to provide jobs for people with disabilities, both employers and people with disabilities still face serious challenges and barriers.
The integration of people with disabilities is a mutual process and access to the labour market should be seen as a responsibility for both parties. The removal of the physical barriers before people with disabilities is the less significant problem. A much bigger issue is that most managers often do not know how to or are simply apprehensive of communication with people with disabilities, despite being the first with whom applicants for work meet. In order to properly train this group and ensure that the benefits of diversity are well understood, firmly rooted practices and strategies for employing people with disabilities are necessary. Representatives of the business sector freely admit that in many cases HR managers seek to hire employees who will require the shortest period of training and the lowest investment.
Facts and prejudice
The most serious barrier before people with disabilities is related to the way they are perceived by those around them. Unfortunately, the attitude towards them, and particularly toward people with mental disabilities, is negative by default. This is why very few applicants disclose such disabilities during job interviews. Other types of disability also fail to be disclosed because applicants fear that their applications will not be reviewed on equal footing or will be seen as an attempt to receive preferential treatment. Many employers fear that people with disabilities will not be sufficiently efficient and some of their duties will have to be performed by their colleagues. However, studies reveal a different picture—employees with disabilities are often more productive and more reliable than their colleagues without disabilities and contribute to a significantly lower staff turnover. This means that investments in them are highly efficient and have a much shorter period of return as compared to annually investing in the recruitment and training of new employees who subsequently leave the company for different reasons. Yes another popular myth is that people with disabilities are exclusive suited to low-skill jobs and that they cannot be promoted through the ranks. Research again disproves this common belief—many people with disabilities have the necessary education and qualifications and have stronger motivation and willingness for further professional and career development.
Why should each manager seek out people with disabilities for their team?
In the current economic situation businesses experience a shortage of a high-skilled and motivated workforce that is capable of swiftly adapting to new labour market requirements. People with disabilities are part of the untapped pool of people with diverse skills at different levels. On the other hand, clients are increasingly more exacting and companies have a duty to satisfy their needs. A number of studies demonstrate that diverse, heterogeneous teams are a driver for creativity, innovation and better decision-making. People with disabilities can have a valuable contribution to a broader and more inherently diverse frame of thinking, thereby boosting innovation at the workplace. If you have people with disabilities working for you, you will gain better understanding of working with clients with disabilities, obtaining a competitive advantage in the process.
The disadvantages associated with the inclusion of people with disabilities in mainstream work teams vary and depend on the nature of the enterprise. One of the problems for small and medium-sized enterprises is the capacity of each able-bodied worker (employee) to take on incidental tasks (loading and unloading, urgent repairs, overtime work, etc.).
Some of the disadvantages are rooted in legislation, which envisaged preferences for disabled workers hired under full-time contracts without reciprocal incentives for the employer (examples include longer annual paid leave, heavy restrictions on the possibilities to alter concluded contracts, etc.). In rare cases, the condition of disabled workers may be abused in order to obtain unlawful advantages and benefits.
A higher standard of care for the health and comfort of disabled workers is also required, some entailing additional resources and ensuring that preventive measures are in place at all times. There is a distinct lack of administrative capacity for the development of projects enabling people with disabilities to exercise their right to work, particularly at the level of SMEs. This is compounded by red tape hurdles that employers are required to overcome in order to use the statutory preferences to which they are entitled. This warrants the conclusion that economic operators stand to gain from hiring disabled workers as a matter of a well thought out strategy. On the contrary, they will gain significant advantages, particularly in the context of applying for project financing. The road to the EU markets of goods and services intersects with effective exercise of the right to work of people with disabilities on the basis of the European social model.
Retained tax must be fully disbursed on the integration of persons with disabilities or maintaining existing or creating new jobs for persons with disabilities during the following two years after the year in which the preference was granted.