A recent report penned by The Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation, and funded by Scotia Bank, cites (perceived) loss of productivity and employee absences as the number one reasons preventing employers from hiring persons with episodic disabilities. People with episodic disabilities have periods of wellness interrupted by periods of illness.
A survey and interviews with a range of stakeholders including employers, persons with episodic disabilities and researchers were conducted between June and August 2011 to determine the complex barriers that deter employment, and the current initiatives underway or needed to redress the issue. Most of the respondents worked in large businesses with over 1,000 employees.
The same set of questions was posed to three different stakeholder groups: employer groups, persons with episodic disabilities and researchers. Employers and researches stated that the biggest barrier to hiring and retaining from an employers’ perspective was fear that those with disabilities would be less productive and require more days off. This could lead to increased expense for the company.
The respondents with disabilities identified this same issue but believed that it was the employer’s misconception of their capacity to be productive that was the real barrier. One of the main questions for all participants was what constituted an accommodation and how do accommodations differ between disability groups.
The need for training, education, and additional resources was given for improving the hiring prospects of persons with disabilities. There was also a need to recognize and reward business champions for hiring this worker population.
An initiative that was suggested as most needed by all three groups of respondents was the need to develop a business case for hiring. The report recommended that this action be taken over the next two years.
See, “Evolving the Workplace,” available at www.hivandrehab.ca.