Government insists on 3% Disability Employment Target by 2002

A commitment to the implementation of the 3% target for the employment of people with disabilities in the public service was reaffirmed today by Dr. Rory O’ Hanlon, Leas Cheann-Comhairle.

Dr. O’ Hanlon, launched a joint undertaking between the Equality Authority and Government to assist, encourage and support public service organisations to meet the 3% target for the employment of people with disabilities which is contained in the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness. It is intended that the target be achieved no later than December 2002. All public sector organisations are being asked to put arrangements in place to ensure that the target is achieved or surpassed by that date.

Speaking at today’s launch Dr. O’ Hanlon said:

“The Government and the Social Partners expect each public service organisation to play its part in achieving this target by establishing an action plan geared to deliver on the PPF commitment. Each organisation should provide a specific budget to implement such a plan and to monitor and review progress towards its achievement. It is particularly important that public sector employers identify and seek to remove barriers to recruiting and retaining employees with disabilities. Specifically employers should look at:

  • The necessity for minimum educational requirements for some jobs. (Leaving Cert or equivalent qualifications may be less frequently held by people with disabilities)
  • The requirement for full time attendance at work during normal office hours. (An imaginative approach to job design or part time work may be necessary to attract employees with disabilities.

The initiatives we are announcing today are timely and targeted to the needs of many employers in the State sectors

  • The first, comprises a series of seminars in eight regional locations, for chief executives, personnel managers and equality officers to develop awareness of disability employment issues,
  • The second initiative is a brochure providing basic information for the group and their teams on where to access information and support relevant to the employment of people with disabilities. A more complete guidance document will be prepared in the light of the issues arising at the seminars.
  • The third initiative is research into the factors that lead to success for the private sector employers in meeting the 3% target. The results of the research will be published early next year.”

Mr. Greg Heylin of the Equality Authority, stressed the importance of this joint initiative as an excellent example of a positive action proposal to include people with disabilities in the workplace, in the context of both the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness and the provisions of the Employment Equality Act 1998. A statement issued by the Authority to mark the Cavan seminar said:

“There is now widespread commitment to improve the situation of people with disabilities. This is evident in court judgements, political statements and the creation of new institutions such as the Equality Authority. The challenge is to turn this commitment into practical change in the life experience of people with disabilities.

Change has to be holistic, addressing the barriers experienced by people with disabilities at home, at work or in society. Positive action has a crucial role to play in addressing a past history of discrimination and exclusion and in accommodating the specific needs of people with disabilities.

Change in the workplace needs to be characterised by:

  • Reaching out directly to people with disabilities in recruitment strategies
  • Creating a safe and welcoming work environment where one can identify oneself as a person with a disability
  • Organising and designing the workplace so that it is free of barriers and accommodates people with disabilities
  • Designing jobs so that people with disabilities can use their ability to the full and advance their careers”.

The initiative announced today envisages public service employers taking specific initiatives, suited to their individual circumstances to recruit and retain employees with disabilities and to ensure that they meet the target within the committed timeframe.