National Inquiry into Employment and Disability
Employer consultation - Brisbane , Friday 22 April 2005
Hosted by Employers Making a Difference and the Queensland Department of Employment and Training.
See Appendix for list of participants.
Barriers to the employment of people with a disability
Discussions in this consultation revealed the following issues to be barriers for employers who otherwise might employ people with a disability:
- Employer perceptions about the difficulties of employing people with a disability.
- A lack of capacity to lead diverse teams amongst managers.
- Employer perceptions about the increased costs of employing someone with a disability (especially in the public sector which has an increasing commercial perspective).
- A lack of information about the real costs and risks of employing a person with a disability.
- Concerns about the impact of discrimination legislation when hiring a person with a disability, particularly amongst small businesses (including uncertainty about the requirements to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace).
- Problems in accessing the Commonwealth Workplace Modifications Scheme (not able to access until an employee has been in a position for three months, not available to casual workers, modifications not transferable between positions, only available to people who have gone through Commonwealth employment services)
- A lack of awareness amongst people with a disability about the jobs that are potentially on offer.
- Policies and programs across governments do not interface well (particularly State/Commonwealth)
Benefits of employing people with a disability
Employers thought that it is important to note the benefits of employing a person with a disability.
- In some workplaces, staff and customer satisfaction has been shown to be linked to a diverse workplace.
- An employer may gain in terms of corporate responsibility. A short term cost may lead to a longer term gain.
- Important given the ageing population and the difficulty of retaining employees.
Solutions to further the employment opportunities for people with a disability
Participants made a number of specific suggestions about potential solutions and strategies to further the employment opportunities for people with a disability:
Improvements to the Workplace Modifications Scheme:
- Open to casual and part-time workers.
- Modifications available immediately upon hiring a person.
- Allot an amount of money to each person who can take modifications with them between positions, rather than linking modifications to a specific position.
- Scheme available beyond those who go through Commonwealth funded employment services.
- Provision of clear guidelines.
A one-stop shop for employers including the following features:
- Clear and simple information about Employer Incentives.
- Models of successful employment of people with disabilities.
- One point of contact for employers.
- Information about particular disabilities.
- Information about how to determine the inherent requirements of a job.
Structured work experience program
- May assist with the difficulty in finding placements for people with a disability.
- If the work experience is conducted through an accredited training program then insurance will not be a problem.
- There should be training sessions for managers and human resources staff around mental health issues (including about when to refer employees to Staff Assistance Schemes).
- Allowing leave for medical appointments
- Workers' compensation issues should be addressed (there is a perceived risk in employing someone who has made a psychological injury claim)
- Important to support employees who are experiencing emotional stress.
- Use of sick leave and superannuation for temporary disablement.
- Education should be provided for recruitment agencies about employing people with a disability.
- Advertising or promoting success stories, and provision of networking opportunities with employers who have successes.
- Important to also provide incentives to people with a disability.
Examples of current best practice
Participants nominated several examples of what they consider to be current best practice:
- A support network of people with a disability within a workplace, where information from regular meetings is fed to managers.
- Permitting carers to work from home through the use of tele-commuting policies. Could also work for people with a disability.
- Education of selection panel convenors, especially regarding how to ask questions about disability. Inclusion of an occupational therapist as an expert on a panel.
- Redesign of position descriptions so that they are more responsive to people with a disability.
- Provision of internships for graduates with disabilities.
- Provision of car-parking spaces for people with physical disabilities.
Appendix: Participants, National Inquiry into Employment and Disability, Employer consultation, Brisbane , 22 April 2005
Sev Ozdowski, Human Rights Commissioner, Disability Discrimination Commissioner, HREOC
Kate Temby, HREOC
Megan Brand, Employers Making a Difference
Susan Booth, Anti Discrimination Commission, Queensland
Joe Gamblin, National Disability Advisory Council
Peter Hagan, Department of Employment and Training
Paul Casey, Department of Employment and Training
Genevieve Wells, Department of Employment and Training - Employment and Indigenous Initiatives
Sue Fergusson, Department of Employment and Training
Mary Aston , Queensland Rail
Victoria-Rose Emery, Queensland Rail
Laurel McKinnen, Dept of Public Works
Sharron Harper, Queensland Police
Ceri Jury, Corporate Link
Deborah McLachlan, University of Southern Queensland
John Pearson, University of Southern Queensland
Matt Runzi, University of Queensland
Kate Bail, Logan Institute of TAFE
Marie Smith, Logan Institute of TAFE
Lynn Hammond, TAFE Queensland
Gavin Whitaker, Westpac
Sharon Todhunter, Westpac
Celeste Galton, Ingeus
Debbie Hilton, Ingeus