Discrimination Against People with Disabilities in Employment a Persistent and Pernicious Roadblock to Worker’s Dignity and Inclusion

Discrimination against Disability in Employment Has Topped Public Contacts to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Every Year Since 2016 and is Rising

Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (“The Commission”) will today outline to a gathering of over 150 public and private sector employers, trade unions, people with disabilities and civil society organisations that discrimination against people with disabilities in employment is “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.”

Figures released by the Commission show that contacts to it from members of the public related to disability discrimination in employment, have been the top issue raised over the last 4 years, and figures for the first half of 2019 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.

The Commission is today, on the World Day for Decent Work, hosting an event entitled “Achieving Equality in Workplace: Reasonable accommodation in practice”. It takes place weeks after a landmark Supreme Court ruling (Daly v Nano Nagle) significantly clarified the rights of persons with disabilities to reasonable workplace accommodation from employers. The event also takes place in the new context of Ireland now holding obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) having ratified the Convention in March 2018.

The event will see speakers, including high-level speakers from the International Labour Organisation, the Scottish Government, ibec, ICTU, people with disabilities and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. The event will be opened by Minister Finian McGrath TD, Minister of State for Disability Issues.

Chief Commissioner Emily Logan will also announce to the meeting that the Commission is to use 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.

The Commission has consistently fought for the right for people to enter employment, including in relation to people in direct provision. The importance of work to human dignity has been recognised clearly by the Supreme Court in a recent ruling (NHV). In an earlier judgment Mr. Justice Gerard Hogan stated: “employment is not just simply a means of earning a living. Employment gives dignity to what otherwise would be for many a soulless existence and for those of us those fortunate to have an occupation, trade or employment, this may be said to be one of the key defining features of our lives.”

Opening today’s event Chief Commissioner, Emily Logan, will state:

“The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is receiving a persistently high level of calls and emails specifically related to disability discrimination in employment. Already this year  36% of all queries to us in relation to employment have focused on disability, the highest level we have seen to date.

“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.”

Vivian Rath, Member of the Commission’s Disability Advisory Committee commented:

“People with disabilities are very familiar with our own needs and as such are best positioned to advise on the necessary supports that will enable us to be successful in our jobs. The well-known disability mantra–nothing about us, without us–should be kept top-of-mind focussing any discussion on reasonable workplace accommodation on the particular person and their specific needs. 

“Engaging with people with disabilities from the get-go leads to the development of positive sustainable workable arrangements.”

ENDS/

For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095

bdawson@ihrec.ie

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Notes to editor:

Year                                   % of contacts to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission under the Employment Equality Acts related to the disability ground.

2019 (Half year)              36% (top issue)

2018                                  30% (top issue)

2017                                  31% (top issue)

2016                                  25% (top issue)

Event details – “Achieving Equality at Work: Reasonable Accommodation in Practice”

Livestream Available – www.ihrec.ie/livestream

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, as Ireland’s national human rights and equality body, is today bringing together 150 participants from public and private sector employers, trade union groups, people with disabilities and a number of advocacy groups to discuss reasonable accommodation in practice in the workplace.

The event begins at 9.30am on Monday morning (7th October) is entitled “Achieving Equality at Work: Reasonable Accommodation in Practice” and will be live-streamed.

The full event programme is available at the following link:

https://www.ihrec.ie/app/uploads/2019/10/ReasonableAccom_Programme_WEB.pdf

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.

Reasonable Accommodation

Under the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015, an employer is obliged to provide reasonable accommodation to enable a person who has a disability: to have access to employment; to participate or advance in employment; or to undertake training –  unless the measures would impose a disproportionate burden on the employer. Reasonable accommodation means effective and practical measures to adapt the employer’s place of business including: the adaption of premises and equipment; patterns of working time; distribution of tasks; or the provision of training or integration resources.

Public Sector Human Rights and Equality Duty

All public bodies in Ireland have responsibility to promote equality, prevent discrimination and protect the human rights of their employees, customers, service users and everyone affected by their policies and plans. This is a legal obligation, called the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty, and it originated in Section 42 of the Commission’s founding legislation, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Act 2014.

Code of Practice

The Commission has invoked its statutory powers under section 31(2) of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 in preparing this code of practice. The Commission can prepare Codes of Practice in furtherance of one or more of the following aims: (a) the protection of human rights; (b) the elimination of discrimination; (c) the promotion of equality of opportunity in employment; (d) the promotion of equality of opportunity in relation to those matters to which the Equal Status Act (2000) applies.

 

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