A new IBEC policy paper points out that those with disabilities are significantly under-represented in Ireland’s workforce.
Despite legislation on equality in the workplace, people with disabilities do not experience the same access to employment opportunities as their counterparts without disabilities, for various reasons, the employers’ body has said.
IBEC, in collaboration with information network Employers for Change, is pushing for improved employment rates, given that one in seven people in Ireland has a disability.
Wide employment gap
IBEC points out that despite sustained economic growth pre-COVID, outcomes for people with disabilities have been slow to change.
In Ireland, a person with a disability is just over half as likely to be employed as a non-disabled peer, with Ireland’s rate of employment for people with disabilities being half the European average.
The gap between the employment rate of people with and without disabilities in Ireland is also the second widest in the EU.
IBEC points out that, for every €1 spent on direct income supports for people with disabilities (disability allowance, invalidity pension and blind pension), the State is spending only 2.4c on employment supports (such as the employability service, partial capacity benefit and disability activation, and employment supports).
Key role for employers
Head of social policy Dr Kara McGann said: “Improving employment opportunities for people with disability is a critical element for enhancing the quality of life for individuals and their families, but there are also substantial gains for organisations and the broader economy.
“Further initiatives by Government and business will be necessary to achieve a significant improvement in labour-market outcomes for people with disabilities.
“Employers have a key role to play in taking steps to recruit and retain people with disabilities in their organisations, and a whole-of-Government approach will also be essential, as the current siloed approach means issues can fall between the span of different areas and fail members of our existing and potential workforce from fulfilling their potential.”
Recommendations detailed in the report include:
- Greater investment in evidence-based employment supports to benefit individuals with disability, the economy and society,
- Reworking and updating the current grants system,
- Amalgamating all the current disability supports into one grant,
- Creating an online application platform for all grants and supports,
- Removing the onus from the employer to apply for grant support,
- Providing €15 million to extend personal-assistant supports,
- Increasing the subsidy scheme for persons with a disability,
- Removing the threshold of 21.5 hours’ work per week required to access the subsidy scheme for those with a disability.