Accessibility Employment Abroad

The United States protects people with disabilities in the workplace, but how do other countries compare?

Although the majority is strongly against the discrimination of disabled individuals, in reality, they are still being subjected to unequal chances when it comes to career opportunities. There are still employers who don’t consider hiring people with disabilities (PWDs), especially those in wheelchairs and even the partially blind. On the other hand, those who opt to employ PWDs give either: minimum or below the standard salary.

In the United States, they are actively legislating against this discriminatory practice through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). How about in other countries like in the United Kingdom? What measures do they have in place to ensure PWDs are given proper treatment at work and equal work opportunities?

The UK Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) of 1995

In early 2013, the European Working Conditions Observatory (EWCO) reported an increase in number of employed European PWDs working full-time and part-time; from 2,626 around December 2011 then making a short jump to 2,940 by the end of 2012. The DDA is geared towards promoting equal rights for PWDs like:

(1) Everyday access to goods and services such as shops, cafes, places of worship, banks, and cinemas.

(2) They should also be issued professional licenses. In its section dedicated to the Employment Rights, employees with disabilities should be treated with the same general employment benefits and rights as regular workers.

However, there are also some exemptions. Business operations requiring physical and longer working hours to survive can always deny a candidate who is not fit for a particular position. Thus, employers are required to put a disability symbol (with 2 ticks) on their job adverts and application forms to inform the public that they are catering to this demographic of applicants.

Generally speaking, this act implies it is unlawful for employers (both private, public, and semi-private) to discriminate against disabled people for the reason related to their disability, as stated at NiDirect Government Information Services. This covers the process of short listing and interviewing arrangements, posting of job descriptions and personnel specifications, terms of employment, and job offers.

Making Reasonable Adjustments In Job Application Procedures, Workspaces, And Employment Contracts

Citing Verizon as an example in the United States, they do encourage disabled applicants through their program called the “Disability Accommodations.”  It provides reasonable accommodation for qualifying individuals in their job application procedures. The company uses an online facility to hire employees, but in the event that a potential candidate can’t use the facility, they’re provided with certain adjustments and alternative methods.

The UK’s DDA is no different than that of the United States’ ADA. Employers in the country are also required to facilitate reasonable adjustments to job application procedures, career contracts, and workspace environment for the benefit of their PWD applicants and recruits.

· In Application Procedures

The UK Government designed a program which provides DEA (Disability Employment Adviser) at their local Job Centers to help interested candidates land a job or gain new skills without going through complicated processes being experienced by regular applicants.

· In Contracts

Another reasonable adjustment that should be made by employers as stipulated by the law includes a special treatment for the disabled worker to have their contracts changed or tailored to their convenience. Among its premises are changing the working hours such as flexible time, starting later, or finishing earlier, and the privilege of filing for vacation leaves should they need to undergo medical checkups.

· In Workspaces

Companies are also required to make their workspaces conducive to their physical situation. This provision may also include providing a reader or interpreter, setting up a special typing keyboard for those with spinal-cord injury or disease, and giving visual and/or audible alarms for the deaf. For workers on wheel chair, they also need to provide a special ramp for easy access. 

This is how disabled people are treated in the UK when it comes to employment opportunities. It is illegal for them to ignore one in an interview. But, keep in mind that companies can still exercise its prerogative to choose the ideal candidate for their business' interest.

About the author:

Allie Cooper is a strong advocate against the discrimination of disabled people. She actively supports and participates in various organizations and support groups catering to PWDS. Connect with Allie on Google +.


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