Employing People with Disability
The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) provides a service to employers to help your business become “Disability Confident.”
Our service includes working one-to-one with your business and is focused on building the ‘disability confidence’ of your organisation to become more welcoming, confident, inclusive and accessible. Our service includes:
- One-to-one approach to build the capacity of your business and leadership to implement good practice as a leader in your industry
- Customised business analysis to understand your business and its objectives
- Disability friendly check to explore what your business needs to become more confident, such as removing recruitment barriers and improving work practices and accessibility
- Tangible practical steps and early wins that your business can adopt
- Specialist advice plus the right connections to implement recommendations seamlessly
Our service also includes full access to our comprehensive “Employer Toolkit” which includes information and resources on a range of areas, including:
- Definition of disability
- Inclusive language
- Disability etiquette – tips for interaction with people with disability
- Growing your business awareness
- Disability awareness training
- Becoming more accessible – communications and events
- Retaining and managing staff
- Reasonable adjustments
- OH&S misconceptions
- Disability and legal requirements
- Disability Action Plans
- State and Territory legislation
- NDIS and your business
- Mental illness
- Personal stories
Please contact us to learn more about how we can help you to become a “Disability Confident” employer.
Below are some information and resources to assist you in employing people with disability.
What does being “disability confident” mean?
Disability Confidence is thinking about the needs of people with disability when designing your products and services, and when creating employment opportunities.
Being disability confident can help you attract a wider pool of job applicants and help retain talented employees with disability.
A disability confident organisation is an organisation that puts policies into practice to ensure people with disability are included.
Managers in a disability confident organisation know it is important to their business to employ people with disability. They have plans to ensure a diverse workplace.
Managers and staff in a disability confident organisation understand disability. They know what people with disability can do, and have identified ways to address barriers to employment or promotion for people with disability.
The benefits of employing people with disability
Employing people with disability makes good business sense. Businesses who employ people with disability benefit from the diverse range of skills, talents, and qualifications that people with disability have to offer.
Research has shown that employees with disability have higher rates of retention, better attendance, and fewer occupational health and safety incidents than those without a disability.
There are already many Australians with disability successfully employed in the workforce, with many employed in professional, managerial and administrator roles.
On average, employing people with disability does not cost any more than employing people without disability. Assistance with the cost of making workplace adjustments is available through the Australian Government funded Employment Assistance Fund (EAF).
What are the barriers to employment for people with disability?
For people with disability, there a multitude of barriers that impact employment. These barriers range from low expectations by those around people with disability and people with disability themselves; the accessibility and quality of our education; the ease to which the right support can be accessed at the right time for both people with disability and people supporting people with disability; and the interface and support of other systems. This interface includes access to health and welfare systems; access to modifications and supports; the ability to get from A to B and the ability to live an ordinary life before employment is even an option.
In relation to employment, barriers often include:
- Misinformed attitudes towards disability (ie. people with disability are costly to employ and are less productive than people without disability)
- Employers’ lack of understanding and confidence to talk about disability and its impact on those who currently work, and who might work, in their organisations
- Employers’ concern about potential risks, including superannuation implications and Workcover costs and exclusions
- Inaccessible workplaces
- An increased focus on low-skilled, short-term jobs and programs (driven by government compliance requirements) in favour of building viable careers
- Lack of visibility, with people with disability not well-represented in public roles, making it difficult to recognise their potential
- Lack of career development opportunities, including limited professional development and skills training, being passed over for promotion and higher duties, lack of job rotation, etc.
Some of these barriers are real and some are perceived. Despite a very grim current picture, people with disability have significant potential that can be brought to the workforce in a wide range of industries and positions, from entry-level to CEO.
- Do you know how reasonable adjustment for an employee who has disclosed disability is managed in your workplace?
- Are you aware of the financial help available through the Australian Government’s Employment Assistance Fund to assist with reasonable adjustments and related workplace assessments?
- Are you aware of your rights and responsibilities in relation to confidentiality and consent with regard to an employee who has disclosed disability?
A workplace adjustment is a change to a work practice, procedure or the environment to enable a person to perform their role. Reasonable adjustments are a type of workplace adjustment that enables people with disability to perform their role and address the impacts, if any, of their disability.
- Reasonable adjustments are covered under both the Fair Work Act 2009(Cwth) and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cwth).
- It’s a good idea to document what adjustments have been agreed. This provides assurances for the employee if there is a change in management and demonstrates that your business have acted in good faith. It’s a good idea to review adjustments periodically.
- The majority of reasonable adjustments in the workplace cost very little or nothing at all and can be reimbursed (subject to approval) through the Employment Assistance Fund administered by JobAccess.
Some of the most common reasonable adjustments are:
- Allowing a person with disability to have some flexibility in their working hours, such as working part-time or starting and finishing later
- Moving a person with disability to a different office, shop or site closer to their home or onto the ground floor, or allowing them to work from home
- Moving furniture, widening a doorway or providing a ramp so that a person using a wheelchair or other mobility aid can get around comfortably and safely
- Redistributing some minor duties (i.e. not inherent requirements of a job) that a person with disability finds difficult to do to another team member
- Allowing a person with disability time off during working hours for rehabilitation, assessment or treatment, e.g. physiotherapy or psychotherapy appointments
- Providing additional training, mentoring, supervision and support
- Purchasing or modifying equipment like voice-activated software for someone with a vision impairment, an amplified phone for a person who is hard of hearing, or a digital recorder for someone who finds it difficult to take written notes
- Making changes to tests and interviews so that a person with disability can demonstrate their ability to do the job
- Providing Auslan Interpreters for a person who is Deaf or hard of hearing, or readers who will read out documents for someone with a vision impairment or learning disability
- Modifying disciplinary or grievance procedures.
There may be other adjustments that are reasonable for an employer to make. Sometimes a combination of adjustments will be needed.
Employment assistance fund – JobAccess
While the majority of employees with disability won’t require any workplace modification or assistance, the Employment Assistance Fund (EAF) aims to make accommodating employees with disability in the workplace easier.
The EAF reimburses businesses for costs (subject to prior approval) associated with making adjustments to support a new or existing employee with disability. Eligibility includes:
- They need to be employed for more than 8 hours per week
- They need to have been employed for at least 13 weeks
- They need to be an Australian Citizen or a Permanent resident
- Their disability needs to have lasted or be expected to last more than 2 years
Auslan interpreting service, disability awareness training (up to $1500) and Specialist Learning Support (up to $1500) are options that can be reimbursed (subject to approval) by the EAF, as well as office equipment, personal aids, and workplace modifications.
The process is quite simple:
- Call Job Access on 1800 464 800 and let them know you wish to apply. Job Access is a free information and advice service funded by the Commonwealth Government.
- A consultant will respond within 4 business hours and take you through the eligibility criteria.
- Documents needed are Proof of residency (if not an Australian citizen), documentary proof of diagnosis as well as employment.
- Once these documents are received an Assessor contacts your business within 7 business days, conducts the assessment by speaking with the employee and understanding their role and supplies a report back to EAF.
- You are then contacted within 2 business days as to whether the funding will be allocated, and you can go ahead with the purchase and organise the reimbursement.
- You will receive confirmation in writing from the EAF.
Other resources for employers
JobAccess Toolkit: This toolkit from JobAccess includes short video guides and downloadable resources with practical advice on disability and employment – from inclusive policies and recruitment to workplace changes and managing staff.
Employee Assistance Fund (EAF) gives financial help to eligible people with a disability and mental health condition, as well as employers to buy work-related modifications and services. The EAF is available to people with disability who are about to start a job or who are currently working, as well as people who need help to find and prepare for a job. It is also available to people with disability who are self-employed and jobseekers who need Auslan assistance, or special work equipment to look for and prepare for a job.
Disclosure: Choosing Your Path. Disclosure: It’s A Personal Decision is a web-based resource published by Western Sydney University and the University of Ballarat http://westernsydney.edu.au/choosingyourpath
Australian Human Rights Commission gives advice about discrimination law and complaints. A Disability Action Plan is a strategy to help your organisation change business practices that could result in discrimination against people with disabilities. The Action Plan helps businesses to work out these practices and offers ways to change and showcase their commitment.
Workers with Mental Illness: A Practical Guide for Managers provides managers with information on how to support workers with mental illness. It also provides managers with information about how to develop and promote a safe and healthy work environment for all workers.
Don’t forget that we can help you become a “Disability Confident” employer.
Please contact us to learn more about the services that we offer to employers.