Campaigns and activities
Measures to support employers
Measures to support workers with disabilities
Employment on the open labour market
Employment in the supported / sheltered sector
Employment in the public sector
Employment of blind and partially sighted women
Vocational rehabilitation and training
Incentive measures to employ workers with disabilities
Legal obligation to employ workers with disabilities
Main occupations performed by workers with a visual impairment
Looking for a job
Legal recognition of disabled worker status
Trade unions and workers with disabilities
The Law on people with disabilities provides the legislative framework for the employment of disabled employees.
Job Centres can grant a part of the salary, which may in some Federal states amount to a significant percentage of it during the first three years. Furthermore, they can contribute to a large scale to the equipment used in the working-place of the blind and visually impaired.
Job-seekers can receive subsidies for necessary additional training and all other costs arising in this context. Also costs for application interviews and for a move that may become necessary due to the new job. In case of moving to a new town to find a job, in many cases, for a blind person it will be necessary to perform a mobility training to fit in with the new surrounding. In these cases the costs for mobility training may be provided by the social authority, sometimes by the health insurance.
A very special form of help for blind and partially sighted persons is the possibility to meet costs for an assistant at work. The given sum will depend on the guidelines that are laid down in the respective federal state. personal assistance may become necessary, if tasks have to be carried out elsewhere other than the actual working-place, and the surroundings are not familiar to them, or it must be expected that information has to be worked out for which the necessary technical equipment at this place is not available.
Severely disabled employees are entitled to one additional week of paid vacation per year.56 In addition, at their request, severely disabled employees are exempt from working overtime,57 i.e. all working time exceeding eight hours daily. This limitation is meant to ensure that the severely disabled employee's working capability is not overstrained. In addition, the limitation grants the severely disabled person more free time to participate in other areas of life. It has been determined that people with a mobility, sight or mental disability especially require more time for participation in life than do non-disabled people.
In addition to other accompanying measures during working life, the Law on people with disabilities has another important protective function:
It stipulates that the employer cannot give notice of termination to the disabled employee without consent of the Social Authority. This means, as soon as a blind or a visually impaired employee has been working longer than 6 months in a job, he/she has a protection against unlawful dismissal so strong that it is considered by some critics an impediment for employment. Some employers argue that they are deterred by the thought that they will not be able to fire disabled employees who are not meeting their expectations.
Disability employment discrimination in Germany is not covered by the Act on the Equalization of Disabled Persons BGG, but by the rehabilitation law SGB IX. This act consists of two parts, part one being on rehabilitation benefits and part two consisting of provisions for employment for severely disabled persons including some provisions for public transportation. Part two, which replaces the old Severely Disabled Act (Schwerbehindertengesetz), is comprised of provisions for employment quotas, anti-discrimination, protection against dismissal, representation of severely disabled employees and some administrative sections.
The purpose of the Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz (and supplementary changes to other laws) is to implement equal rights for disabled people in public and private areas and enable them to live life with as little outside help as possible.6 The Act includes, inter alia, provisions responding to the special needs of disabled women (“gender mainstreaming”).
During working-life, situations may occur in which the blind and visually impaired need help. Requirements which they are demanded to fulfil may change in the course of time. They then have to adapt themselves to the new working-techniques and circumstances. In case equipment or technical innovations are required for this, then the Social Authority will pay. However, the employer is expected to share at least a part of these costs at a certain percentage. Necessary supplementary training is also paid by Social Authorities.
In Germany there is a special Law as part of the social legislation dealing with persons with disabilities. This law dseignates that all companies employing more than 20 employees have to assign 5 % of these jobs to disabled persons. Especially persons with severe disabilities, to which blind and partially sighted individuals also belong, are to be considered in particular. Employers are obliged to report vacant positions to the Employment Offices and have to pay at present an amount between 105 and 260 Euros - depending on the number of available jobs in their enterprise - for each job not being filled by a disabled jobseeker, if they do not follow this legal obligation.
A further legal stipulation is the supplementary vacation of normally five days annually in addition to the general holidays; this is intended to be a compensation for the additional expenditure of time and energy that a disabled person has to suffer due to his/her disability.
Companies with more than five impaired employees have a representative of employees with disabilities in order to look after the special interests of these employees. It is the job of these Representatives to safeguard the interests of the employees with disabilities starting with the application for a job up to the notice of its termination. They are elected by the respective employees of an enterprise.
Germany has various definitions of disability within its legal order. The concept of disability varies according to German criminal, civil, education and social law, to name but a few subject areas. Even within one legal subject area, such as social law, there is no universal definition of disability covering all social welfare and social security laws. This is despite several attempts of the German legislature to introduce a single, coherent and comprehensive definition on disability into the German law, the last being the introduction of the new rehabilitation law, SGB IX, in 2001. According to § 2 SGB IX, persons are disabled if their physical functions, mental capacities or psychological health are highly likely to deviate for more than six months from the condition which is typical for the respective age and whose participation in the life of society is therefore restricted.
When the Act on the Equalization of Disabled Persons (BGG) was adopted a year later, the same definition of disability was adopted in § 3 BGG. The BGG of 2002 is a public law with some links to civil law. When it came into force on May 1, 2002, it was celebrated as a milestone in the disability movement's fight for equality. The act was indeed drafted by the Forum of Disabled Lawyers whose members belong to the disability movement. The original draft was, however, substantially altered by the government before it was introduced into parliament.
DBSV Board Member
Member of the EBU Social Rights Commission.
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