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Discrimination in the workplace

07 Oct 2019 / Human rights Print

Discrimination is ‘persistent and pernicious’ in the workplace

Discrimination against disability in employment is the top reason for complaints made to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission over the past four years – and is rising, according to Emily Logan (Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

She describes discrimination against people with disabilities in employment as “persistent, pernicious and prevalent in Ireland’s workplaces and recruitment practices, and needs to be seriously and collaboratively tackled by all those with a stake in our labour market”.

The commission says that contacts to it from members of the public related to disability discrimination in employment have been the top issue raised with it since 2016. In the first half of 2019, figures have seen a further rise to 36% of all contacts.

The latest CSO figures also show that people with disabilities are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than people without a disability.

Statutory powers

Ms Logan said that the commission would be using its statutory powers “to prepare and bring forward a new legal code of practice to promote greater employment of people with disabilities.

This code, once completed, will be legally admissible in evidence in court, Workplace Relations Commission, and Labour Court proceedings”.

Today is the World Day for Decent Work and the commission is hosting an event titled: ‘Achieving Equality in the Workplace: Reasonable Accommodation in Practice’. Over 150 public and private sector employers, trade unions, people with disabilities and civil society organisations are attending.

The event is being opened by Minister Finian McGrath (Minister of State for Disability Issues) and takes place weeks after a landmark Supreme Court ruling (Daly v Nano Nagle), which clarified the rights of persons with disabilities to reasonable workplace accommodation from employers.

Ireland’s obligations

Ireland now has obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which it ratified in March 2018.

Chief Commissioner Logan concluded: “Integrating reasonable accommodation as set out in law for people with disabilities into the routine recruitment, selection and employment processes is essential, if we are to reverse these negative employment trends.

This requires senior management to take a leading role in creating a culture of equality and inclusion in the workplace.”

“Participation of people with disabilities, in what reasonable accommodation may be used to create a level playing field for them is at the heart of today’s meeting.”

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