To mark this, we take a look below at the kind of rules that are in place on a supranational level to support the idea that disabled people have a right to participate in work and find fulfillment and economic autonomy through their work. And in terms of specific measures, we look at a sample of 13 countries that mandate employers to employ a certain quota of people within their workforce.
The place to start on supranational edicts is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, which sets out that ‘Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.’ Recognizing equality in a bold statement is, however, not the same as ensuring it happens. Detailed measures need to be taken to support vulnerable corners of society.
Therefore, to ‘promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity’, the United Nations adopted The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which entered into force in 2008. With 82 signatories to the Convention, 44 signatories to the Optional Protocol and 1 ratification, it had the highest number of signatories on its first signature day in UN history.
The 2008 Convention clarified the scope of the term disability. According to it, ‘persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.’ And this definition has taken on the lustre of a gold standard, being used by many countries to describe disability and try to enforce equality.
The 2008 Convention sets out obligations in many fields, with Article 27 regulating work and employment. It obliges signatory states to ‘recognize the right of persons with disabilities to work, on an equal basis with others’ and prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability with regard to all matters concerning all forms of employment. Among the other measures listed in the article, the Convention requires states to ‘employ persons with disabilities in the public sector’ and to promote their employment ‘in the private sector through appropriate policies and measures, which may include affirmative action programmes, incentives and other measures’.
One measure that governments have found to combat the under-employment of disabled people is to introduce a rule obliging businesses to employ a quota of disabled people. We have chosen a sample of 13 countries that take this approach and set out our findings in the table below.
|Argentina||In the public sector, 4% of the workforce of these entities must be disabled:
– public offices of the executive, legislature and judiciary
In the private sector, employers do not have any obligation to employ persons with disabilities.
|Austria||If employers have 25 or more employees in Austria, they are obliged to engage at least one ‘beneficiary disabled person’ (i.e. a person with a degree of disability of at least 50%) for every 25 employees.
If this obligation is not met, the employer is required to pay a compensatory tax for each disabled person that should have been engaged during the previous calendar year.
|Brazil||If employers have:
– 100 or more employees, 2% of their workforce must be disabled.
Employers who don’t comply with these obligations may be fined between BRL 2,519.31 and BRL 251,929.36. Aside from the administrative penalties, the companies may face legal action by the Public Attorney’s Office seeking compensation if the companies remain non-compliant and do not prove continued recruiting efforts.
As the law does not foresee any exceptions, some companies resort to legal action to exclude themselves from these obligations, as they do not have positions suitable for those with disabilities. Examples of such businesses are oil rig sites and civil construction.
|Chile||If employers have 100 or more employees, at least 1% of their workforce should consist of disabled employees or people who are entitled to a disability pension under any applicable social security system. Alternatively, provided that they have ‘justified reasons’ for doing so, employers may comply with this obligation as follows:
– By making contracts for services with companies that employ disabled people
The ‘justified reasons’ can be the nature of the activities carried out by the company or where there is no disabled person interested in a position.
|Czech Republic||If employers have 26 or more employees, 4% of their employees should be disabled. Alternatively, the company should make a financial contribution or buy disabled-made products.|
|France||If employers have 20 or more employees, 6% of their workforce should be disabled, or they will be liable to make a payment to the state.|
|Germany||If employers have:
– 20 or more employees on average per month over the year but fewer than 40, they must employ at least 1 severely disabled person per month on average over the year.
Employers who don’t comply with these obligations will be liable to make a payment to the state.
|Luxembourg||If employers have:
– 25 or more employees, they must employ at least one full-time disabled worker.
These obligations are binding, provided that the Luxembourg employment agency (ADEM) has received an employment request from a disabled worker with appropriate skills.
|Romania||Employers with at least 50 employees must meet a quota for employment of disabled employees amounting to at least 4% of the total workforce or, alternatively, choose either (i) to pay a certain monthly amount to the State (the equivalent of the minimum gross base salary multiplied by the number of job positions where no disabled persons were employed) or (ii) to pay at least 50% of that monthly amount to the State, and use the difference to partner with and acquire products and/or services provided by disabled persons employed in authorised protection units.|
|Slovakia||Employers with at least 20 employees are obliged to employ persons with disabilities in a number representing at least 3.2% of the total number of its employees if the applicable Labour, Social Affairs and Family Office lists persons with disabilities in the register of jobseekers. If the employer does not comply with this statutory obligation, it must pay a special contribution.|
|Spain||If employers have 50 or more employees, at least 2% of their workforce must be disabled, subject to limited exceptions. There is an option to implement alternative measures.|
|Turkey||If employers have 50 or more employees, 3% of their workforce must be disabled.|
|Ukraine||If employers have:
– 8 or more employees, they must employ 1 disabled employee.
Note that the size of your workforce may also lead to other kinds of obligations, ranging from a duty to consult with unions to duties around health & safety. Our Employer obligation finder can help you discover your key obligations.
In addition, if you would like more information about anti-discrimination law, go to our Global Guide at chapter 8, which provides a clear, comparative overview of the law in over 50 countries.