Thursday, October 15, 2009

Employing People with Disabilities: Small Business Concerns and Recommendations

Major concerns about employing people with disabilities

The major concerns reported by employers about employing people with disabilities were: matching skills and job needs (79%), supervision and training (52%), costs associated with safety and medical insurance premiums (48%), legal liabilities (47%), and making the workplace accessible/job accommodations (40%).

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) has resulted in a surprisingly small number of lawsuits-only about 650 nationwide in five years. That is low compared with six million businesses that have to comply (President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, 1996). The ADA also encourages alternate forms of dispute resolution (e. g. negotiation and mediation). In Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Association of Mediation Programs and Practitioners (MAMPP) ADA Mediation Project offers pro bono mediation services for disability related disputes (See Resources: Massachusetts Association of Mediation Programs and Practitioners).

Best ways to address employers' concerns

Employers reported the best ways to address their concerns were to help them understand the benefits of hiring people with disabilities (45%), hear success stories from other small business employers (37%), and people with disabilities (29%), and educate and train employers (34%).

Once human service providers have Identified employers who have successfully employed individuals with disabilities, they will attest first hand that accommodations and access do not have to be costly propositions. In addition, employers can explain that there are a range of disabilities that do not require accommodations and there are disabilities that are not physical.
For the past 10 years, the President's Committee's Job Accommodation Networks (JAN) has been assessing employers, people with disabilities and others to determine needed job accommodations for employees with disabilities. As a result of handling over 100,000 cases, JAN has learned that the average cost of a job accommodation for a person with a disability is $200. (The President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, 1997). For every dollar an employer spends for a disability related job accommodation, the company saves $34 (e. g. workers' compensation, training of new employees, increased productivity). It is important to be creative in the job accommodation planning process. There may be low and no cost alternatives available. The Job Accommodation Network will provide assistance.

posted by AtWork! at


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