The Commission announced today the new Disability Employment Package, in 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 20thand 21st of September. This package is one of the seven flagship initiatives announced in the Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030, and it aims at supporting the improvement of different areas that affect negatively the labour inclusion of persons with disabilities in the EU. It was shared and consulted within the Disability Platform, even if the contents and titles of the areas were not flexible.
This support is not developed through new legislation neither further funding opportunities, but through a series of measures that, according to the Commission, help implement the already existing legislation in six areas. These areas and related measures are:
- “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.
- “Promoting hiring perspectives through affirmative action and combating stereotypes”, through a catalogue of positive actions to facilitate hiring of persons with disabilities involving employers.
- “Ensuring reasonable accommodation at work” by preparing guidelines for employers.
- “Preventing disabilities associated with chronic diseases” 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 Safety and Health at Work.
- “Securing vocational rehabilitation schemes in case of sickness or accidents” by issuing guidelines.
- “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.
Some of these measures will become helpful instruments for the promotion of inclusive labour markets around the EU. In particular, the guidelines for reasonable accommodation at work, the catalogue of positive actions to facilitate hiring, and the study and recommendations for fair working conditions on alternative forms of employment. However, the lack of funding and legal requirements attached are a large obstacle, and it will require a huge effort – both from the institutions and Civil Society – to ensure its application at national level and, therefore, to achieve results.
There are, as well, many shortcomings of the labour market not tackled by the Package. Specifically, it is worrying that the gender perspective and the intersectionality of gender and disability has not been included. It is compulsory for the Commission and the organisations in charge of the development of the measures to incorporate this perspective.
Other relevant aspects not mentioned, highlighted EDF in the Conference, are:
- It is necessary to change the rules at national level that prevent persons with disabilities from entering the labour market because if they do so then they lose their disability transfer to compensate their additional cost of living with a disability.
- With the upcoming European Disability Card, Member States need to ensure the recognition of disability status amongst them, to facilitate mobility related to employment and education.
- In general terms, there needs to be a change of focus towards the quality of the employment created, not exclusively on the employment rates.
- There is a lack of programmes aimed at the activation of persons with disabilities currently considered inactive but who can benefit from joining the open labour market.
These 6 areas and the measures attached will be published throughout next two years. EDF will work with the European institutions, national governments and our members to disseminate the tools and advocate for their implementation.
Joint Paper on Disability Employment Package (2022)
EU Commission’s website on the Disability Employment Package
Álvaro Couceiro, Policy Officer