Though employment rates for people with disability has improved slightly each year, there is still a large discrepancy in employment between people with disability and those without.
While 94.3% of people in Australia are employed, this falls sharply to 46.6% for people with disability.
Employers are obligated to not only prevent direct or indirect discrimination against employees with disability, but to also take active steps in improving working conditions and opportunities for them.
Unwilling to make necessary workplace adjustments
On the most common forms of discrimination is failing to make necessary workplace adjustments to accommodate disability. It can often be perceived that the changes needed will have significant financial impact, but in fact, the opposite is usually true. Offering flexible working, making slight changes to a dress code or allowing an employee to sit/stand are all effective forms of support but cost nothing to implement.
Make your information accessible
Can everyone access your role descriptions and company vision and values? You’re less likely to attract all possible candidates if they can not access information about your company. Make sure all documents are in accessible formats, Microsoft Word has a built-in accessibility checker to ensure that people using screen readers can understand. Find more information about accessible material online here.
Employers are legally required to make reasonable adjustments to the working environment if an employee has disclosed their disability. If the assistance required is too expensive for an employer to reasonably implement, support is available from MAX Employment through the Employment Assistance Fund.
As technology continues to improve, assistive technology should become more widespread in Australian companies. More sophisticated software such as computer screen readers for visually impaired users and speech recognition programs to aid those with motor skills problems can make a real difference to people with disability’s job opportunities and the likelihood of returning to the workplace.
Returning to work after recent disability
It’s a difficult situation to return to work after a recent disability and can be made worse by an unsupportive employer. Dismissal is more common than ensuring the staff member has proper support in returning to work, costing the employer when recruiting a replacement and the employee is left without their job and source of income.
Know your disability rights at work
It is against the law to discriminate against anyone in the workplace because they have or are assumed to have a disability. Employees are protected from discrimination at all stages of employment including recruitment, workplace terms and conditions and dismissal.
Employees who feel they have been discriminated against on the basis of disability can make a complaint to the Human Rights Commission.
For more information on our Disability Employment Services or hiring a person with disability, visit maxsolutions.com.au/disability-employment-services.