Employers often resist employing persons with disabilities, as they believe persons with disabilities will be unable to fully perform their tasks and responsibilities and will raise labour costs.
However, evidence shows that persons with disabilities have high performance ratings and retention rates, and better attendance records than their peers.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) has researched the benefits of hiring people with disabilities.
According to their findings there are several benefits to hiring a disabled person, which includes improvements in profitability, as well as gaining a competitive advantage due to cost-effectiveness, higher retention rates, reliability and punctuality, productivity, and employee loyalty.
Speaking at a Disability 360° Seminar and Knowledge Workshop hosted by Transformation Integrated Africa (TIA) and Cowan Harper Madikizela (CHM) Attorneys, Advocate Bokankatla Malatji, SAHRC’s Commissioner in charge of disability, said that they have no doubt that people with disabilities can make up a significant portion of South Africa’s productive workforce if barriers preventing them from actively participating in employment are identified and removed.
According to Malatji, companies must comply with the employment equity act to make South Africa’s workplaces inclusive and equitable.
They can do so by actively welcoming people with disabilities and offering training and resources to provide the support these persons need.
According to Adv. Malatji, TIA and the SAHRC is aware that this includes a broad range of challenges and that many companies have little knowledge of how to accommodate the disabled in the workplace.
Moreover, many companies face the challenge of defining disability.
According to the employment equity act, persons with disabilities include those who have long-term or recurring physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments, which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
Call to action – become “disability confident”
As part of its mandate to promote, protect and monitor human rights in South Africa, as well as to assist companies in becoming “disability confident”, the SAHRC in partnership with TIA has issued a call to action to employers – starting with JSE listed companies.
This call to action commences with a challenge to employers to ensure at least one position of all new recruitment opportunities in 2019 are afforded to persons with disabilities, and that organisations get the tools and knowledge needed to become disability confident.
They have also developed and launched a disability toolkit, which assists employers in the private and public sector with information and guidance to enable companies to change the employment outcomes of persons with disabilities.
While it may require changes to end-goals, strategies, and actions, persons with disabilities can make a significant contribution to a business’ success, as well as in the economy, by relieving high unemployment rates.
The SAHRC is further setting measurable goals and requesting that all JSE listed companies commit to one opportunity, not 1%, but commit to recruiting one disabled person before the end of July 2019.
This will result in the creation of approximately 365 new jobs of people with disabilities by the end of July.
The SAHRC will be tracking these activities andin turn will publish a list of companies who have met and exceeded these terms.
The SAHRC is committed to ensuring the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities to believe that it is a right of persons with disabilities to have employment opportunities, to enjoy access to personal and career development, and to be allowed without discrimination and with dignity to participate in and contribute to South Africa’s economic development.
This action will not only enable such individuals to make meaningful contributions to their jobs, but will benefit employers in gaining committed, productive employees.
This article was published in partnership with Transformation Integrated Africa (TIA), Cowan Harper Madikizela (CHM) and SAHRC.