Over the last several decades, landmark legislation has been enacted including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act (Rehab Act) to make the workplace more accessible for people with disabilities. However, between 2009 to 2018, people with disabilities were employed at less than a third of the rate compared to those without disabilities.
Significant barriers continue to exist for individuals living with disabilities in obtaining and sustaining employment. Addressing these barriers requires increased awareness, advocacy, and additional public policy solutions.
Two main areas of focus have been identified for reform: Workforce Development and Workplace Equity.
To promote talent acquisition within the disability community, the CEO Commission for Disability Employment addresses tax credits, education and skill-based training.
The CEO Commission for Disability Employment sees tremendous value in tax credits and other incentives for employers to increase the hiring of people with a disability. It is important to ensure that small businesses have greater access to employer tax credit programs to assist them with hiring more people with disabilities. Programs like the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) should be extended in the near term, be inclusive of more employees with disabilities, and be made permanent.
The CEO Commission for Disability Employment supports policies that increase access to an inclusive education for students with disabilities. Inclusive education yields positive academic outcomes, including improved graduation outcomes, which supports and prepares students with disabilities for the workforce which in turn provides employers with a greater pool of candidates.
Skill-based training programs have been found to increase worker skills, enhance productivity, decrease turnover and improve diversity within the workforce. The CEO Commission for Disability Employment supports expanding these types of opportunities to people with disabilities. By making these essential training programs more inclusive and equipped with the appropriate support, employers’ access to qualified people with disabilities will increase.
To ensure people with disabilities can work in welcoming and supportive environments, the CEO Commission for Disability Employment addresses wage equity, culture, accommodations and supports, and financial wellness.
People with disabilities should have access to employment and receive equal pay for equal work. The CEO Commission for Disability Employment believes that all employees have the right to be compensated fairly and without discrimination. While industry, job title and geography all play a legitimate role in how much an employee is compensated, disability status should not.
Culture does not change overnight, however, the CEO Commission for Disability Employment encourages employers to seek out resources and training to assist management and leadership to create inclusive workplaces. Support from organizational leadership to commit to disability inclusion is important for creating a work environment that embraces the contributions of individuals with disabilities.
Inadequate access to transportation presents a significant barrier to people with disabilities getting to the workplace. The CEO Commission for Disability Employment promotes accessibility in all forms of transportation and recognizes remote work as an option for employees with disabilities as it minimizes transportation barriers.
Accommodations and Supports
The CEO Commission of Disability Employment encourages public policy solutions that ensure access and adequacy to vital accommodations and supports which are critical for individuals with disabilities in the workplace.
The CEO Commission for Disability Employment supports policies that incentivize savings for all employees. Future policies and improvements to the existing ABLE Act should further encourage employees with disabilities to save while accounting for their eligibility for the benefits and supports they rely on.