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
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.