|On 20th September, the European Commission launched its Package to Improve Labour Market Outcomes of Persons with Disabilities (Disability Employment Package). Its objective is to improve the employment situation of persons with disabilities. It does so through six areas of action, whilst addressing policymakers and employment services or social economy employers; many of which make up EASPD’s membership. EASPD is ready to help partner the European Commission and others to help implement the EU Disability Employment Package objectives.
The employment situation of persons with disabilities across Europe has not significantly improved over the past decade. The disability employment gap – meaning the employment gap between persons with disabilities and persons without disabilities – continues to be at around 24 percentage points across the EU. There also continues to be challenges around creating jobs on the open labour market, in particular for those with higher support needs.
For this reason, the European Commission has just published its Package to Improve Labour Market Outcomes of Persons with Disabilities (Disability Employment Package). The Package aims to improve the employment situation for persons with disabilities through guidance and support in six areas:
1. Guidance for Member States to improve the accessibility and inclusiveness of employment and career guidance services, to be developed in the next few months.
2. Catalogue of positive actions to facilitate hiring of persons with disabilities by promoting affirmative action and combating stereotypes, plan for the first quarter of 2023.
3. Guidelines for reasonable accommodation at work addressing employers, planned for the second half of 2023.
4. Manual for managing chronic diseases and preventing the risk of acquiring disabilities, planned by the second half of 2023.
5. Guidelines for effective vocational rehabilitation schemes covering frequent diseases and types of accident, planned for the first quarter of 2024.
6. Study on improving the employment of 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.
The Package will also support Member States to set-up national targets for increasing the employment rate of persons with disabilities and for reducing the respective employment gap.
The EU Commission acknowledges that the success of the Package is ultimately in the hands of employers and invites its stakeholders, including the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD), to help disseminate and implement the Package.
Welcoming the Package, Mr Jim Crowe, President EASPD, said “this package of initiatives provides practical measures for employers, including social economy organisations which make up a large part of our Membership. We will certainly make the most of them. Although it is progress, these initiatives will not be enough on their own so we are glad to see that Member States will have to set national employment targets for persons with disabilities. These targets need to be ambitious but also backed up by practical action by national authorities. This includes the improved use of public procurement and state aid policies to help employers; an area by and large missing from the Package”.
Ms Maya Doneva, Secretary General EASPD, added that “the real added value of this Package of initiatives is its European context: we will be able to identify all the positive practices, policies and standards across Europe and learn from each other from country to country. We need to improve, we need direction and we need to learn from each other: the Package is a real game-change in this regard. EASPD will make sure to be an active partner in its implementation”.
In the next few months, EASPD will therefore be raising awareness about the Disability Employment Package and providing input into the development of each area of action.