1. Making your business ADA compliant is not as expensive as you think.
According to the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s Job Accommodation Network, 15 percent of accommodations cost nothing, 51 percent cost between $1 and $500, 12 percent cost between $500 and $1,000 and 22 percent cost more than $1,000. Sometimes an accommodation may be as simple as adjusting a desk or table for the correct height or may include installing a ramp. Every disability is different, so the accommodations needed are not the same for every disabled employee. It is also important to note that there are many grants and government incentives to help cover the cost of providing accommodations for the disabled.
2. Disabled employees don’t miss more work than non-disabled employees.
There is a common misconception that disabled individuals have weaker immune systems are more susceptible to become ill. Unless the disabled worker has an immune deficiency, they are no more susceptible to becoming ill than any able-bodied worker. They can be counted on to show up for work on time and perform their jobs like anyone else. According to the Journal of Rehabilitation, the following statistical data was gathered from a study done of 13 companies to compare cost-benefit trends in the United States: workers with disabilities had 1.24 fewer scheduled absences and 1.13 more unscheduled absences.
3. Disabled employees do not need to be protected from failure.
While many disabled employees meet and often exceed expectations, they don’t need to be protected from failure. Everyone is entitled to experience both triumphs and failure, and the disabled worker is no different. Employers should expect a disabled employee to meet the same job standards as their able-bodied co-workers, as long as reasonable accommodations have been made so that they can meet those standards.
4. Disabled employees meet or exceed job performance standards.
According to a 1981 study done by DuPont that included 2,745 employees, 92 percent of disabled employees rated average or better in job performance compared to 90 percent for those who weren’t disabled. While there isn’t a big difference between the two groups, the disabled workers in the study appear to hold their own when it comes to job performance in the workplace. If an employee is hired based on their job qualifications, they should be able to complete their job tasks the same as anyone else in the same position, regardless of a disabling condition. This assumes that the disabled person is provided with reasonable accommodations for their disability, so that they are on equal footing with the able-bodied employee.
5. Hiring disabled workers will not raise a company’s insurance rates.
Hiring disabled workers will not raise worker’s compensation insurance rates or health insurance premiums. The worker’s compensation rate is calculated based on the hazards relative to the operation of the business. It also includes the rate of accident incidence at the business site. Therefore, hiring a disabled worker will not increase the rate charged to a business for their worker’s compensation. Health insurance rates will not increase based on hiring a disabled employee either.
Businesses actually have tax incentives available to offset costs associated with recruiting, hiring and accommodating people with disabilities. However, there are still many employers who are not aware of these tax credits and, as a result, do not take advantage of them. A General Accounting Office report found that few businesses apply for tax credits and those that do tend to be large companies. Talk to your tax consultant for details.
6. If the disabled can work, they will be less dependent on government benefits.
If a disabled person can support themselves through employment that saves the government and the taxpayer money. That’s good for everyone. It’s a win-win situation.
I recently had the opportunity to visit the Signal Center in Chattanooga. I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in and saw the receptionist was in a wheelchair and had her service dog by her side. She was very pleasant, informative and represented the company well. She is just one example of what a differently-abled employee is capable of.
If you are a business owner or employer, please consider taking a chance on hiring the disabled. You may be pleasantly surprised at what they can teach your other employees.
If you are disabled and looking for work, visit the Vocational Rehabilitation Office at the Department of Labor. They will be able to assist you in your search and/or training for employment.
Pam Rasmussen lives in LaFayette and is the mother of a child with Spina Bifida. She is an advocate for adults and children with special needs. She can be reached at email@example.com