On 20th September 2022, the EU Commission announced its new Disability Employment Package to improve labour market outcomes for persons with disabilities (hereafter ‘the Package’), at the Conference on Integration of People with Disabilities into the Labour Market, organised by the Czech presidency of the Council of the EU in Prague.
The Package – one of the seven Flagship initiatives in the EU Disability Rights Strategy 2021-2030 – is in line with the UN CPRD and supports the realisation of the principles of the EU Pillar of Social Rights. It aims to enhance the labour market situation of persons with disabilities and reduce the employment gap between persons with and without disabilities. Under Article 27 UN CRPD, persons with disabilities have the right to enjoy social inclusion and economic autonomy through employment on an equal basis with others. However, the latest available EU-level data, from 2019, shows that only 50.8% of persons with disabilities are employed, compared to 75% of persons without disabilities. The situation is even worse for women with disabilities – on average only 48.3% of women with disabilities are in employment.
The Package is focused around six action areas, of which their deliverables will serve as practical tools and guidelines to implement the pre-existing legislation on employment and will be published during the next two years. These include:
- Strengthening the capacities of employment and integration services –through the publication of guidance for Member States to improve the accessibility and inclusiveness of employment services which was published on 25th September 2022.
- Promoting hiring perspectives through affirmative action and combating stereotypes -through a catalogue of positive actions to facilitate hiring of persons with disabilities involving employers (planned for Q1 2023).
- Ensuring reasonable accommodation at work – by preparing guidelines for employers, – of which one deliverable is to prepare guidelines for reasonable accommodation at work addressing employers (planned for Q3 2023).
- Preventing disabilities associated with chronic diseases – by issuing a manual for managing chronic diseases and preventing the risk of acquiring disabilities through the publication of a manual issued by the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work (planned for Q4 2023).
- Securing vocational rehabilitation schemes in case of sickness or accidents- by issuing guidelines for effective vocational rehabilitation schemes covering frequent diseases and types of accidents (planned for Q1 2024).
- Exploring quality jobs in sheltered employment and pathways to the open labour market – through the launch of a study on improving the employment for persons with disabilities through alternative employment models, including recommendations for fair working conditions and career development in alternative forms of employment and pathways to the open labour market that comply with the UNCRPD (planned for Q1 2024).
Although EUD welcomes this initiative from the EU Commission, there is still work to be done to ensure that adequate measures, tailored to different types of accessibility requirements, are not only identified but also implemented at national level, as well as to influence all upcoming actions to ensure the deaf perspective is reflected. For instance, such as measures on reasonable accommodation for deaf persons in employment. Indeed, the Joint Paper on the Disability Employment Package mentions that the Package will takeaccount of the diversity of disability, in line with the UNCRPD.
In order to fulfil the objectives of this Package, a great deal of effort will be required from civil society. Accordingly, EUD will work with the EU institutions as well as support the EUD national member associations to advocate for the inclusion of the deaf perspective in the development of the deliverables. EUD will also support their national member associations in the implementation of these deliverables at Member State level. For instance, by disseminating tools – in fact, at the end of 2022, EUD will publish a Toolkit on the EU Disability Rights Strategy 2021-2030, covering all relevant Flagship and other actions, which includes the topic of employment. Further, EUD recently published a set of Policy Recommendations on access to the labour market for deaf persons in the EU, based on the implementation of Article 27 UN CRPD on Work and Employment, from the deaf perspective.
For more information, read the Joint Paper on the Disability Employment Package (2022).