An introduction to employing people with disability

People with disability are an under-utilised talent pool that can bring valuable skills to your workplace.

Ariel Community Team
5 min

People with disability are an under-utilised talent pool that can bring valuable skills to your workplace. The benefits of hiring people with disability include improved productivity, lower absenteeism and turnover rates, and higher customer satisfaction. 

Employing people with disability is often more challenging than hiring other employees but there are plenty of resources available as well as incentives from government agencies such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). You’ll also find financial rewards for employing people with disability through tax credits and grants for employers who hire people with disability through programs such as JobAccess or Access Employment Services

Workplace and employment data Australia

Disability is a complex and multi-faceted concept. There are many different types of disability, which can be broadly categorised as physical, sensory, intellectual/cognitive and psychiatric. Each person living with a disability is diverse with their own experiences and identity and there can be many reasons why people with disability are not in the workforce. 

The data shows that people with disability are less likely to be in the workforce and have a higher unemployment rate than their non-disabled peers. In Australia, the labour force participation rate for people with disability aged 15–64 years is 53.4%, compared to 84.1% of people the same age without disability. 

The reasons for this are many, but one of the main factors is that people with disability are more likely to experience discrimination in the workplace. In the most recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, nearly half (45.2%) of all employed people with disability reported that they had experienced unfair treatment or discrimination from their employer, or prospective employers, due to their disability in the past 12 months.

The Australian federal Disability Discrimination Act (1992) (DDA) states that employers must provide reasonable adjustments to: prevent the employee's medical condition from having an adverse effect on their performance at work; enable the person to carry out essential aspects of their job; and/or provide a reasonable means of achieving equality between disabled and non-disabled employees.

Benefits of employing people with disability

The employment of people with disability is important because it can benefit the employer, employee and society as a whole.

Employing people with disability will benefit employers in terms of:

  • Enhancement of their reputation;
  • Increased productivity;
  • Reduced absenteeism and staff turnover; and
  • Better employee relations. 

In addition, employing people with disability will also mean that your company is able to take advantage of government incentives such as tax rebates or grants from state governments or local councils. 

The government has been funding initiatives to support the training and employment of persons with disabilities since 1985 through its Disability Employment Services program (DES). 

According to the Australian Bureau Statistics (ABS), there were more than 704 000 working age Australians who had some form of disability in 2015-16, making up about 13% of Australia’s labour force. Employing this group would not only allow you access to these funds but also provide great benefits for both parties involved.

Employing people with disability is good for business.

Employment services and supports

Employment services and supports are provided by state and territory governments. These can help people with disability find and keep a job, or change jobs. They can also help employers to employ people with disability. 

For more information on how to employ people with disability, we have included some helpful links to resources below. 

Article by

Ariel Community Team

The Ariel Community Team are dedicated to delivering innovative digital products to improve disability inclusion throughout Australia.

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