Why employ a person with disability?
Many organisations are recognising the business benefits of employing people with disability.
Local and overseas research has found that workers with disability have higher levels of workplace safety, performance and staff retention, lower instances of absenteeism, and lower staff turnover.
Like any other group of people, the skill set of people with disability covers the full spectrum. When the focus is on what a person can do, rather than on what they can’t do, the primary factor for decision making is whether the person is well-suited to the job.
You can save yourself time and money during the hiring processes by distributing your job vacancies through JobsABILITY, contact JobsABILITY for further information.
How much does it cost to employ a person with disability?
On average, employing people with disability should not cost more than employing people without disability.
Assistance with the cost of making workplace adjustments is available through the Australian Government funded Employment Assistance Fund. If you work with a Disability Employment Service, you will be provided with assistance in this area.
You will gain loyal, productive staff who take less sick leave and are less likely to injure themselves in the workplace. Employers also enjoy the benefits of increased customer loyalty due to their demonstration of inclusive community values.
Find out more about how your business can benefit from employing people with disability
What should I say to a person with disability?
Sometimes staff may not know how to approach and manage a new employee who has a disability. The resources below can help your staff and employee feel confident and comfortable in this area.
What occupations and industries do people with disability work in?
People with disability work in all industries and at all levels of employment, from entry level to CEO. 33 per cent of people with disability work in managerial and professional roles. Employment for people with disability ranges within all industry sectors from retail to social care to agriculture.
Where do I start?
If you want to recruit for staff, JobsABILITY can assist you by distributing your job advertisement across all Disability Employment Service (DES) Providers.
DES providers are similar to a recruitment company, however, they specialise in supporting people with disability to enter employment and are fully funded by the federal government, meaning their services a free to employers. For more information on distributing your vacancy and accessing a greater pool of candidates for your position, Contact JobsABILITY
I have several applicants with disability. What is the best way to conduct an interview?
JobAccess provides information on interviewing people with disability.
Find more information on the JobAccess website.
If you are recruiting through a disability employment service, your DES provider can help you with additional information.
An applicant may have the perfect skills and abilities for the job, but not ‘interview well.’ If you know that anxiety is a barrier for interviewing in a particular case, consider alternatives for interview options, such as a Skype interview, phone interview or a single person interview.
What does a Disability Employment Service offer?
You don’t need to go through the recruitment process alone. The federal government provides funding to Disability Employment Services (DES) in order to support people with disability, assisting them to prepare for, secure and maintain employment.
Your Disability Employment Service should provide you with:
• Assistance and support through the application process, induction and probationary period of employment and as required to retain your new employee
• Advice on wage subsidies for employment of a person with disability
• Advice on accessing resources for workplace modifications
• An employment support plan which outlines specific supports provided to the candidate
• A briefing to the line manager in communication and workplace adjustments required.
More information on how Disability Employment Services can support you is available here
Are there wage subsidies for taking on a person with disability?
Yes, your Disability Employment Service provider will provide you with information on wage subsidies available.
Can I conduct a probationary period before offering unconditional employment?
Yes. Most businesses and Staff policies stipulate that all employees are subject to a probationary period. This may be anywhere from three to six months. As the employer, you should set the probationary period timeframe. During this time people with disability need more support in order to settle in to their new role. Your DES provider will also offer support. In addition, it may be helpful for you as the employer to provide induction information and allocate a ‘buddy’ who can help to show your new employee the ropes.
Retaining and Supervising Staff
How do I retain my new staff member?
Consider providing opportunities for further skill development and career pathways that build on your employee’s talents and abilities. For example, offer further training as the employee expresses an interest. Look at their core strengths and abilities, consider where else in the workplace could their skills could be utilised. Could your employee assist in training new entry level staff? Talk to your DES provider if you are thinking about making any changes to your employee’s position.
Also consider workplace flexibility. For many staff members who are parents, studying or caring for others, offering flexibility in the workplace means that your staff will be more productive during the time they are at work.
More information of flexible work arrangements for people with disability can be found on the JobAccess website
How do I supervise a person with disability?
JobAccess provides information on working with your DES provider to develop a support plan for your employee. If you experience any difficulties, your DES provider should be able to provide support in this area.
What about employees with mental health conditions?
Like physical health conditions, mental health conditions vary on a spectrum from mild to severe and are experienced differently by each individual. Approximately half the population will experience a period of mental illness during their lifetime which means the majority of workplaces already employ staff with some experience of mental illness, whether they’re aware of it or not.
Generally, individuals with common mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression do not consider themselves disabled. Some will only ever experience one or two episodes of ill health during their lifetime, while others will experience the condition intermittently throughout their life. A smaller percentage of individuals will experience their mental health condition in a permanent and ongoing way.
It’s important to recognise that a diagnosis of mental illness is not the full picture. For example, one individual with a diagnosis of depression may seem outwardly well while another person with the same diagnosis may be noticeably struggling. The same applies to moderate and severe mental illnesses. A person with a diagnosis of schizophrenia may appear virtually unaffected in their daily life or, at other times, acutely unwell.
Individuals who are receiving appropriate treatment and support for their mental health condition may never require additional support from an employer. Others will require occasional short-term adjustments and/or flexibility, while still others may benefit from longer-term workplace strategies or modifications to support their condition.
As with any physical health condition, speaking confidentially, respectfully and frankly with the individual employee is the best way to ascertain their workplace needs in relation to their mental health.
Key points to remember:
• Don’t assume anything about a current or potential employee based on their mental health diagnosis.
• Mental health conditions are common and many conditions are highly treatable.
• Even mental illnesses at the more complex or severe end of the spectrum can be well managed.
• Chances are you already employ or work alongside someone with a mental health condition whether you’re aware of it or not.
How can I support an employee with a mental health condition?
SANE Australia has produced a range of fact sheets and resources to assist employers to understand and support mental illness in the workplace:
Fact vs myth: mental illness basics
Mental illness and the workplace
Legal rights and responsibilities
For further information, visit the SANE Australia website: www.sane.org
Beyond Blue’s ‘Heads Up’ website provides free tools and resources to support mentally healthy workplaces:
Talking about a mental health condition at work
Working with a mental health condition
Making reasonable adjustments
Tips on providing support
For further information, visit the Heads Up website: www.headsup.org.au
What if it’s not working out?
Talk to your DES provider. Sometimes issues can be resolved and you may find that employees simply need a little extra support.
The DES provider may also suggest alternative options for the employee to remain in employment or pathways to exit employment.
In the Workplace
How do I prepare my current staff?
Staff may not know how to approach or manage a new employee who has a disability. The resources below can help your staff feel confident in this area.
What about workplace injury?
The Australian Safety and Compensation Council 2007 report explains that workers with disability have a lower number of OHS incidents compared to other employees. 0.37 incidences were reported on average for a person with disability, compared to 2.24 incidences for people without disability. In addition, workers compensation costs for employees with disability were much lower than other employees.