There are a few things companies should consider before they commit to employing people with disabilities.
The employment of persons with disabilities has become an important consideration for businesses, as employers have to comply with legislation and reap the benefits that are associated with the employment of persons with disabilities. An employer needs to develop a disability strategy as part of the long-term direction and growth of the business.
It needs to become the road map for the business. First, the employer needs to prepare to employ people with disabilities by ensuring that the office or workplace is universally accessible and that staff members undergo disability sensitivity training.
In addition, the employer must support the employment of workers with disabilities – which it can do via permanent or flexi employment as well as through learnership programmes. Companies can also offer job coaching, improve retention strategies and undertake remuneration structuring.
The Employment Equity Act suggests that employers need to have a 7,5 percent disability employment equity target. If this target is not achieved, penalties are payable. An employer’s Employment Equity Plan needs to clearly demonstrate how it will achieve the target over a certain period (usually five years). An employer needs to report on this progress annually by way of an Employment Equity Report.
The Employment Equity Act has two disability-related addendums that guide an employer: the Code of Good Practice on Key Aspects on the Employment of People with Disabilities; and The Technical Assistance Guidelines on the Employment of People with Disabilities.
The Skills Development Act indicates that an employer needs to achieve a four percent spend on disability skills development. Employers are encouraged to maintain a skills development regime through the submission of their Work Skills Plan and Annual Training Report. Employers can secure Skills Development Grant Funding through the SETA with which they are registered.
Tax allowances are available for employers who place employees on learnerships. Employers can claim R80 000 for a person without a disability and R120 000 for a person with a disability. The Tax allowance can be measured as a saving or cash equivalent benefit for the employer. Companies save about R22 400 for a person without a disability and R33 600 for a person with a disability.
The Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Scorecard is critical for all companies. Disability is linked to six direct disability bonus points, five designated group points as well as the five socio-economic development points. (Employers are known to use disability in their skills development strategy to score the maximum number of 20 points available for skills development.)
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it can assist in the development of a disability strategy, which will allow the employer to become more legislatively compliant as well as earn the financial benefits of a disability strategy.
Rustim Ariefdien is a disability expert extraordinaire, who assists businesses to “let the Ability of disAbility enAble their profitAbility” through BBBEE, skills development, employment equity and socio-economic development. He ensures that businesses are able to maximise their points on the BBBEE scorecard and become compliant with legislative requirements as stipulated in the Employment Equity and Skills Development Acts. His purpose is the economic empowerment of persons with disability in Africa. As a person with a disability himself, he has extensive experience in the development and empowerment of persons with disability.