Welcoming People With Disabilities To The Workplace
Disability means many things to many people, but the British Council of Organisations of Disabled People described it well as "the disadvantage or restriction of activity caused by a society that takes little or no account of people who have impairments and thus excludes them from mainstream activity."
Employing people with disabilities
Many barriers such as widespread ignorance, fear and stereotypes have caused people with disabilities to be unfairly discriminated against in society and in employment. For these reasons they are a designated group in terms of the Employment Equity Act, 1998.
The Minister of Labour has therefore approved a Code of Good Practice on the Employment of People with Disabilities in terms of the Act.
Aim of the Code
The Code is a guide for employers and workers to encourage equal opportunities and fair treatment of people with disabilities, as required by the Act.
It is intended to educate and inform employers and workers to understand their rights and obligations to promote certainty and to reduce disputes so that people with disabilities can effectively enjoy and exercise their rights at work.
It is also intended to help create awareness of the contributions people with disabilities can make and to encourage employers to fully use the skills of such people.
Accommodating the needs of people with disabilities
Employers should make the workplace accessible and provide equal access to benefits and employment opportunities. Applicants and staff members with disabilities who are suitably qualified for the job should have access to reasonable accommodation:
- during the recruitment and selection process
- in the working environment
- in the way work is usually done, evaluated and rewarded
- in the benefits and privileges of employment.
Recruitment and selection of people with disabilities
Employers should make job advertisements accessible to people with disabilities by identifying the inherent requirements of the post, clearly describing the skills and capabilities required and setting reasonable criteria for selection.
Training and career advancement
People with disabilities should be consulted on their career advancement and possible needs and so facilities and materials for training should be accessible to them. Evaluation of work performance should clearly identify and fairly measure and reward performance of the essential functions of the job.
Employment equity planning
If people with disabilities are under-represented in all occupational levels and categories in the workplace, the employer should seek guidance from organisations that represent people with disabilities or relevant experts, for example in vocational rehabilitation and occupational therapy to bring those vacancies to the attention of possible work seekers with disabilities.
Education and awareness
Employers, employer organisations and trade unions should include the Code in orientation, education and training programmes of workers.
For more information consult the Employment Equity Act, 1998 and the Code of Good Practice on the Employment of People with Disabilities on the website of the Department of Labour or contact the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) helpline on 0861 161616 or the nearest office of the Department of Labour.