Employer Disability Awareness Training and Best/Preferred Practice
EMPLOYER SUPPORT CHAIN
"Making Effective Linkages"
Disability Awareness Training
Best / Preferred Practices
HIRING AND SUPERVISING
PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
To work towards removing the existing linkages between disability & unemployability, through the delivery of disability awareness training to small and medium sized organizations in Winnipeg, and provincially. Best practices of accommodation and job redesign will be identified and shared with a developed community resource list. Training modules will be developed. The project will establish community linkages, and address the transition of youth from school to work.
EMPLOYERS’ TOP 10 QUESTIONS
For most employers there are common questions when hiring a person with a disability or when a person is returning to work after an injury. The following questions and answers will give insight from persons with disabilities to help employers with their hiring process.
1. WHAT WILL THE ACCOMMODATION COST ME?
The average “one-time” cost for an accommodation ranges from $500.00 to $1000.00. Today, computer technology once identified specifically for persons with disabilities is being marketed to consumers in general, causing purchase costs to drop.
Access to buildings and usable space for persons with mobility, vision and hearing disabilities is a requirement under the Manitoba Building Code and supported by the Manitoba Human Rights Act. Ensuring that your customers and others see you as accessible to them, increases your customer base, and also expands employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.
For accommodations which need to be purchased, there are several options you, the employer, can consider.
• Financing the accommodations yourself
• Using the expense as a taxable business expense
• Assistance is available through making application to Family Services and Housing (may require the employers’ commitment of future employment)
• If the employee receives funding for his/her equipment or adaptations, they remain the property of the employee. Several disability specific not-for-profit organizations offer individuals limited financial assistance for specialized items (e.g. Society for Manitobans with Disabilities, MS Society, Cerebral Palsy Association)
REMEMBER – If the cost of accommodating an employee is too prohibitive for you, there are resources to assist employers. The result will be that your workplace is inclusive and you are providing employment to a person with a disability. You are also demonstrating to the community the advantages of maintaining a diversified workplace.
2. WHAT COST RECOVERY CAN I EXPECT FOR ACCOMMODATIONS TO THE WORKPLACE?
Although most job accommodations are inexpensive, there are financial resources available to assist employers.
• The Vocational Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons Act (VRDP) provides a cost-shared (federal/provincial) program. It provides funding for accommodations for some job candidates with disabilities. For further information, contact the provincial Vocational Rehabilitation Services department.
• The federal government provides funds for job accommodations for persons with disabilities hired through its Employment and Training programs. Contact your local Canada Employment Centre for further information.
Under the existing provisions of the Federal Income Tax Act, the cost of modifications made to a building by a business can only be deducted for tax can be amortized over a period of time. The Income Tax Act was amended in 1991 to allow businesses to fully deduct the costs of modifications in the year they are incurred. Examples of eligible modifications include:
• Braille and audio indicators in elevators
• Visual fire alarm indicators
• Telephone devices
• Assistive hearing devices for group meetings for people with hearing disabilities
• Disability-specific computer software
3. CAN PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES ACTUALLY DO THE JOB?
No job seeker wants to feel unproductive or that they are not contributing. The most common difficulty for potential employees is the lack of related work experience.
Individuals with long-term disabilities often have limited traditional work experience. The experiences gained by non-disabled high school students through part-time and casual employment is often missing for youths with disabilities because they are focused on health and disability related activities like therapy sessions, adapting study materials, etc. However, the experiences of students with disabilities are often gained through cooperative or work experience programs at the high school level. These experiences do demonstrate not only specific skills, but necessary work habits including decision-making skills.
As an employer it is important to review assessments and employer evaluations. When reviewing those of a prospective disabled employee, remember that their student work placement opportunities may have been limited, affecting their decision-making skills. However, that does not mean that they cannot do the job!
Individuals who have become disabled later in life may have skills that he/she can no longer do. However, the individual may have acquired many skills and attributes in a non-work environment that employers might ignore. If you, as an employer are truly interested in discovering an individual’s strengths, take the time to explore these attributes and skills.
Necessary on-the-job assessments can be achieved in a couple of ways - through placement at the worksite; or through work assessments completed by community employment support services.
Although off-site assessments may not be workplace specific, the individuals’ strengths will be apparent because they will feel more comfortable in a worksite that provides them with the accommodations that they need.
4. WHAT SUPPORT DO EMPLOYERS HAVE?
Employers have a range of governmental and social service delivery supports to assist in the recruitment, retention and promotion of persons with disabilities. These supports are readily available to the employer. To contact a support service, call the provincial government’s “Citizens Enquiry” and ask to speak to Vocational Rehabilitation Services. They will advise you of other support programs in your area. There are many resources on the Internet, which will give you information on funding and accommodations. One example is the “Job Accommodation Network” at http://janweb.icdi.wvu.edu/.
Services and supports the employer can expect from these resources:
• Referring qualified job seekers
You should forward job descriptions to employment support services, and highlight duties and responsibilities that are essential to the position. Also consider other assignments. Ask the employment support services if they know an individual who could fill the position. Forward positions that are frequently available to the employment support service, to give them an opportunity to prepare the individual to meet the skill requirements of the job.
• Disability Awareness for Management and Co-Workers
Request that the employment support service provides you and your staff with information about the disability as it relates to the job. Ask enough questions to ensure that you are comfortable meeting the person and welcoming them as a part of the work team.
• Initial employment period
If the initial trial period of employment presents unforeseen difficulties, ask the employment support service for suggested interventions which will allow employment to continue.
Ask the employment support service to visit the worksite and suggest needed accommodations.
Employment Support services are available to “support,” rather than act as an intermediary between the Employer and the Job Seeker with a disability. They can assist both of you to become comfortable with the new job, and put into place needed modifications to promote success.
5. HOW DO I GAIN THE ACCEPTANCE OF STAFF TO WELCOME PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES INTO MY WORKSITE?
Most people have either a relative or a friend with a disability. They may even have a hidden disability and be pleased to see an employer treating disabled employees fairly. You are not giving special or preferential treatment by accommodating a person’s disability. Other staff would want the same accommodations if they were in the same position.
As an employer, you may be concerned about violating existing union and other employer/employee agreements. It is worth noting that the disability community has had a long and positive relationship with the union movement who are committed to providing inclusive workplaces and fair labour practices to all employees.
6. IS WORKPLACE HEALTH AND SAFETY A CONCERN?
By ensuring the safety of employees, you are also preventing increased insurance premiums. i.e. Workers’ Compensation and other employee benefit programs). 96% of employers state that employees with a physical disability have a safety record that was average or better than other employees, both on and off the job.
A person with a disability is a good planner and anticipates obstacles at work and in their community. They have established ways of managing everyday living activities safely.
7. WHAT IS PHYSICAL ACCOMMODATION AND REBUNDLING OF DUTIES?
Astute business leadership recognizes that a universally accessible place of business will attract more customers and exclude no one. For instance, a level entry makes it easier for customers who have children in strollers. An automatic door opener allows shoppers to easily exit with their arms full of purchases. Larger computer monitors reduce eyestrain, and lead to reduced health complaints. Flexible work schedules increase job satisfaction for all employees, including job sharing, transferring work assignments, and flexible working hours. Rest periods, recreation and exercise programming are common in workplaces. Redefining job assignments by being open to different approaches is beneficial to all employees.
8. HOW DO I ENSURE FAIR EMPLOYEE EVALUATIONS?
Performance evaluations are standard methods for assessing the progress of employees. Often employers feel uncomfortable about addressing the job performance of persons with disabilities. However, if expectations are clearly outlined and mutually agreed upon in advance, the evaluation should be part of the role of the employer/supervisor. Employees with disabilities do not want to be treated differently. They are entitled to honest feedback, the same as any other worker. Most employees, regardless of disability appreciate challenging and realistic goals as they promote growth, confidence-building and the development of key skills.
Keep in mind that some performance issues may concern accommodation as opposed to performance. Ask yourself questions such as, “Was my employee late twice last week because they have a poor work ethic or because their attendant didn’t get them ready for work on time?”
9. WHAT TRANSPORTATION OBSTACLES EXIST, AND WHICH WILL AFFECT MY EMPLOYEE?
Transportation is a concern for people who are job searching. A person with a disability can often have their employment options limited if they have no transportation. Those living in the city can use Handi-Transit. This public transportation service provides priority rides for persons who are employed. The job recruiter should remember that it may take time for the person to get a regular ride to work. As an employer, you need to be supportive of these difficulties and initially allow for reasonable flexibility in the work schedule.
If your prospective employee drives (many people with disabilities do), lack of employment may have prevented them from affording a vehicle. Vehicle modification is costly.
The greatest challenge for an employee with a disability is when the worksite is not on a bus route or is in a rural community. The solutions for transportation need to be creative, using the support of family, co-workers and funding sources. You need to look to the support team and the job seeker to develop a transportation plan that will enable employment to be maintained.
10. WILL TIME AWAY FROM WORK BE SIGNIFICANT FOR AN EMPLOYEE WITH A DISABILITY?
You may be concerned workers with disabilities will be absent due to medical issues. Studies have shown that 86% of employers who have employees with a disability rated their attendance as average or better.
Any person with a disability understands the difficulties associated with a job search, as well as the challenges of entering a new place of employment, and wants to make their job a success.
Like all employees, some medical appointments during working hours are unavoidable. You will find that as employees persons with disabilities want to ensure that the employer is not inconvenienced by their personal situation.
• PORTAGE & DISTRICT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
• STONEWALL & DISTRICT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
• TEULON & DISTRICT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
• STEINBACH CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
For information on expanding opportunities for employment for persons with disabilities contact:
Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities, Inc.
105-500 Portage Avenue – 500 Portage Ave.
Winnipeg, Manitoba. R3C 3X1
Phone: 204 943 6099
Fax: 204 942 3146