Just like able-bodied individuals, people with disabilities need jobs to sustain their daily basic needs. However, hiring disabled people remains a big concern for some business owners. Misconceptions about disability hiring hinder physically handicapped individuals from having equality in employment. These misconceptions are often the result of the lack of familiarity, interaction, and the generally negative attitude some companies have towards disabled people.
Here are some common misconceptions of employing people with physical disability and the corresponding facts to dispel these false impressions:
1. Higher Costs – Some employers fear that employing disabled people can cost them a lot of money because they require specialised equipment and costly accommodations. In reality, studies have consistently proved that disabled employees have higher job performance efficiency, are talented, loyal, and creative. While training is necessary, not all disabled individuals require the use of special equipment or machinery.
2. Attendance Issues – Just because a person is in a wheelchair does not necessarily mean they are sickly and will frequently be absent from work. In fact, the opposite is true. According to studies conducted by DuPont, employees with disability have better or similar attendance records as other employees. In fact, disabled employees have an 80% lesser turnover rate because they are likely to stay longer in a job.
3. Higher Accident Rate – A DuPont study showed that physical impairment does not necessarily increase a person’s risk of injury. For more than 18 years, Tim Hortons franchisee Megleen, Inc. has hired over 80 employees and is yet to make an insurance claim for any work-related injury to one of its disabled employees.
4. Lack of Skills and/or Education – Over the past decade, the number of students with disability has increased by two digits. In 2010 and 2011, Ontario has had more than 43,000 physically disabled students registered in post-secondary education. Rather than making any assumptions about what handicapped people can or cannot do, tapping into their skills increases the diversity in a workplace.
5. Unable to Meet Job Performance Standard – According to a 1990 DuPont survey, 90% of the 811 employees with disability performed better than 95% of employees without disabilities. A similar DuPont study conducted in 1981 showed that 92% of 2,745 handicapped employees had average or better job performance compared to 90% of the able-bodied employees. Both 1981 and 1990 results are comparable to 1973 DuPont job performance survey.
6. Frequent Assistance is Required – Although some people may think that disability may hinder a person from completing his tasks, employees with disability are known to be independent despite the challenges they have. They have learned to live their lives and are able to perform their daily life routine and tasks without depending on other people. Have an honest discussion with them during the interview about the company’s job requirements and whether or not they need any assistance in certain areas of the job.
With the increasing number of people with disability, employers need to accommodate a more diverse workplace where they can tap the undiscovered skills and talents. Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act (AODA) intends to identify, eliminate, and prevent any potential barriers that hinder people with disability from enjoying equal employment opportunities and benefits.