Successful examples of inclusive workplace design.

SW – 09/2020

What are reasonable arrangements in the workplace to enable participation of people with disabilities and to prevent discrimination? As early as May 2019, the European Commission launched its campaign #EUvsDiscrimination. Part of the campaign focused specifically on reasonable arrangements in the workplace for people with disabilities. In a webinar on September,11th 2020, the European Commission presented a guide on the topic. The aim of the guide is to improve the general understanding of what "reasonable arrangements" means in the workplace and how they can be put into practice.

Employment situation for disabled people

There is still an average gap of 24.2 percentage points between the employment situation of people with and without disabilities in the EU. This ranges from 17.1 percentage points in Latvia to 42.2 percentage points in Ireland. Exclusion from the labour market means that people with disabilities are exposed to social exclusion and disadvantage as well as a higher risk of poverty and experience considerable obstacles in participating in society.

This employment gap exists despite the fact that the EU and all Member States have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), which explicitly prohibits discrimination in the labour market on the grounds of disability and calls on the signatory states to ensure reasonable arrangements in the workplace. Directive 2000/78/EC establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation also requires employers to take appropriate measures to enable a disabled person to have access to employment and training on a case-by-case basis, unless such measures would impose a disproportionate burden on the employer.

Learning from the good example set by others

The guide shows promising practices of public and private employers, who have contributed through various measures to the integration of people with disabilities into the general labour market and to the creation of an appropriate work environment. It also addresses common stereotypes and misconceptions about the cost or complications of providing reasonable arrangements for people with disabilities.

It is often assumed that it is complicated and expensive to provide adequate workplaces or that expert knowledge is always required for planning. However, reasonable arrangements could be many and varied. They could involve extensive technical solutions, such as the installation of lifts and ramps, or comparatively simple ones, such as the installation of computer software, and could also involve working arrangements, training and raising awareness.

This would be offset by a number of positive effects of inclusive workplaces, such as the ability to recruit from a wider talent pool, lower staff turnover, a positive corporate image or a growing market size in terms of one in three people between 50 and 65 acquiring a disability.

An international study on accessibility in companies, which was funded by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) and carried out by the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV), also serves to promote good practice. The aim of the study was to identify innovative examples abroad, to break down barriers in companies and thereby improve the access of people with disabilities to the general labour market. The results of the study were published in June 2020 (only available in German) and were made available to companies in Germany and their associations to foster change in the private sector towards more accessibility and thus a higher employment rate of disabled people.