Ireland - Article 27

Article 27

Measures to support employers
Measures to support workers with disabilities
Discrimination
Employment on the open labour market
Employment in the supported / sheltered sector
Employment in the public sector
Employment of blind and partially sighted women
Self-employment
Vocational rehabilitation and training
Incentive measures to employ workers with disabilities
Legal obligation to employ workers with disabilities
Vocational counselling
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

 

FÁS is the National Training and Employment Authority in Ireland.
FÁS is involved in designing, developing and delivering programmes and services that address the needs of the labour market and specific targeted groups. Through a regional network of 64 offices and 20 training centres, FÁS operates training and employment programmes; provides a recruitment service to jobseekers and employers, an advisory service for industry, and supports community-based enterprises.

FÁS anticipates the needs of, and responds to, a constantly changing labour market which employs over 2 million people. Through a regional network of 66 offices and 20 training centres, FÁS operates training and employment programmes; provides a recruitment service to jobseekers and employers, an advisory service for industry, and supports community-based enterprises.

These goals cover areas such as services for jobseekers and the unemployed, workforce development, labour market policy, social inclusion, equality and diversity, and customer service.

FÁS strives to ensure that its policies and programmes reflect best practice in social inclusion through increased participation and progression by marginalised groups, namely members of the traveller community, lone parents, early school leavers, ex-offenders, migrant workers and women wishing to return to the workforce.

The Disability section contains information relating to training and employment for people with disabilities. It describes how to access employment or training in FÁS via steps to employment, and explains about specialist training providers, disability awareness training, the supported employment programme and assistive technology. It also links to grant assistance and programmes for jobseekers and employers.

Measures to support employers

Disability Awareness Training Support Scheme

Training People to be More Aware
Many people are unsure of how to respond to someone with a disability and are self conscious about the language they use. They are concerned about using the wrong words and inadvertently causing offence, or being unable to cope with a situation because of lack of knowledge about the appropriate etiquette when working with people with disabilities. Disability awareness training is designed to ensure that staff provides the best service to customers/clients with disabilities and that managers and other employees maximize their working relationships with colleagues with disabilities.

Eligibility
The Disability Awareness Training Scheme is open to all companies in the private sector. Training grants are available for the development of personnel at all levels and occupations within this sector. It is suitable for companies interested in:

  • Employing or retaining people with disabilities;
  • Promoting the employment of people with disabilities;
  • Promoting management of diversity within their workplace.

Funding & Application
Funding for the Disability Awareness Support Scheme is available from FÁS to companies at a level of 90% of costs in the first year and 80% of costs in subsequent years. The maximum funding available to a company is €20,000 in any one calendar year.

Wage Subsidy Scheme

The FÁS Wage Subsidy Scheme provides financial incentives to employers, outside the public sector, to employ people with disabilities who work more than 20 hours per week. A person on the Wage Subsidy Scheme is subject to the same conditions of employment as other employees. These conditions include PRSI contributions, annual leave, tax deductions and the going rate for the job. Subsidies available through this scheme are structured under 3 separate strands and employers can benefit under one or all, simultaneously.
Scheme Structure
Strand 1 is the wage subsidy payment. Where it is agreed that an employee with a disability has a productivity level between 50% to 80% of normal work performance, a maximum subsidy up to €8,639 per annum is provided. If it is agreed that the employee with a disability had a productivity level below 50% of normal work performance, a maximum subsidy up to €10,748 per annum is provided. The amount of the subsidy will vary depending on the number of hours per week the employee with a disability is employed.

Strand 2 applies where a company employs more than two people with disabilities. The company can avail of a grant to cover the additional supervisory, management and other work based costs. This top-up is based on the overall number of employees with disabilities employed and will range on a sliding scale from an additional 10% of wage subsidy for 3 to 6 employees with disabilities to a maximum of 50% of wage subsidy for 23+ employees with disabilities. Strand 3 is where an employer employs 30 or more workers with disabilities. The employer can avail of a grant of €30,000 per annum towards the expense of employing an Employment Assistance Officer.

Employee Retention Grant Scheme

The purpose of the Employee Retention Grant Scheme is to assist employers to retain employees who acquire an illness, condition or impairment which impacts on their ability to carry out their job. It helps to explore the employees continuing capacity to operate as productive members of the workforce.
This scheme assists in maintaining the employability of the employee when s/he acquires an illness, condition or impairment (occupational or otherwise) by providing funding to:

  • Identify accommodation and/or training to enable the employee to remain in his/her current position; or
  • Re-train the employee so that s/he can take up another position within the company.

The scheme is structured in 2 stages according to the development and implementation of a retention strategy.
Scheme Structure
Stage 1 facilitates employers by enabling them to buy-in external specialist skills and knowledge needed to develop an individualised ‘retention strategy' for the employee who acquires a disability.
Stage 2 provides funding to the employer towards the implementation of the written retention strategy, including re-training, job coaching and/or hiring of an external co-coordinator to oversee and manage its implementation.
Eligibility
The Employee Retention Grant Scheme is open to all companies in the private sector. Funding is available to support the retention of any existing employee, at all levels and occupations within the company, who acquires an illness, condition or impairment which impacts on their current ability to do their job.
Funding & Application
Stage 1 – Development of the Retention Strategy
Funding of 90% of eligible programme costs is available to companies up to a maximum of 2,500 towards the development of a retention strategy for any 1 employee
Stage 2 – Implementation of the Retention Strategy
Funding of 90% of eligible programme costs is available to companies up to a maximum of €12,500 towards the implementation of a retention strategy for any 1 employee. Funding for the specialist personnel is limited to a set number of hours and, application may not be made without the support of an individualised retention strategy (refer to Stage 1).

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Measures to support workers with disabilities

Ref: http://www.fas.ie
Job Interview Interpreter Grant
FÁS has responsibility for providing labour market services for people with disabilities, assisting with finding paid employment or preparing for employment through a training or employment programme. FÁS will pay a fee as per the standard rate for a 3-hour period using a professionally qualified interpreter. Travel costs for the interpreter are paid at a set rate. Rates will be differentiated between professionally qualified interpreters and others.
Eligibility

  • Are deaf or hard of hearing or have a significant speech impairment;
  • Are actively seeking employment or just started employment;
  • benefit from having a sign language interpreter and/or other interpreter present at job interviews or for an induction period.

The Interpreter
The jobseeker sources and selects the sign language interpreter or other interpreter as appropriate. Interpreters can be friends, family members or professionally qualified sign language interpreters. Sign language interpreter services may be sourced locally or provided through:
Personal Reader Grant
FÁS has responsibility for providing labour market services for people with disabilities, assisting with finding paid employment or preparing for employment through a training or employment programme. If you are blind or visually impaired and you need assistance with job-related reading, you may be entitled to a grant to allow you to employ a Personal Reader.
FÁS will pay a fee per hour, in line with minimum wage. It will be paid up to a maximum of 640 hours per annum.
Eligibility
You can apply for a Personal Reader grant if:

  • You are in employment in the private sector and need assistance with work-related reading;
  • You have recently become visually impaired and are in danger of losing your job;
  • You are going back to your original employer to do new or different work;
  • Your prospects for promotion are being restricted because of reading difficulty due to your visual impairment.

Application

  • The employee contacts their local FÁS office to obtain and complete an Application Form;
  • FÁS, the employee and the employer agree the number of hours based on the amount of reading required;
  • FÁS pays a grant to the employee to pay the costs of their personal reader based on a Claim Form.

The personal reader must not be replacing any reading help normally given by work colleagues, relatives or friends. Workplace Equipment Adaptation Grant (WEAG)
FÁS has responsibility for providing labour market services for people with disabilities, assisting with finding paid employment or preparing for employment through a training or employment programme. If you are a person with disability who has been offered employment or are in employment, and require a more accessible workplace or adapted equipment to do your job, you or your employer may be able to get a grant from FÁS towards the costs of adapting premises or equipment.
Examples of adaptations for which a grant may be given are:

  • Minor building modifications such as ramps or modified toilets;
  • Alarm systems with flashing lights;
  • Equipment adaptation such as voice synthesisers for computers or amplifiers for telephones.

A maximum grant of €6348.70 is available towards the cost of adaptations to premises or equipment. This grant can also be used to upgrade adapted equipment funded previously.
Revenue Job Assist Scheme
Under the Revenue Job Assist Scheme, an employer can claim extra deductions in their accounts for up to 3 years from the date the employment commences, if a person who has been unemployed for 12 months or more is taken on in employment. The deductions apply to:

  • Wages paid to a qualifying employee in qualifying employment; and
  • Employers PRSI in respect of such wages.

There is no limit to the number of 'qualifying employees' an employer can take on under the scheme, provided they take up 'qualifying jobs'. The deduction is not due if either the employer or the employee has benefited or is benefiting from any other employment scheme in respect of the job.
Other supports:
Ref: The Equality Authority: http://www.equality.ie The Equality Mainstreaming Unit
The Equality Mainstreaming Unit is one of the initiatives set up under the Human Capital Investment Operational Programme 2007-2013. The Human Capital Investment Operational Programme (HCI OP) 2007-2013 is a €1.360 billion plan that addresses Ireland's labour market and human capital development needs for the period 2007-2013.
The main objective of the Equality Mainstreaming Unit is to contribute to addressing labour market gaps in Ireland for specific groups that are experiencing barriers to participation and employment, including those created by gender inequality and wider inequalities. The programme consists of a set of measures that seeks to improve labour market access and participation of groups experiencing inequality across the nine grounds covered by the Equality legislation. The Equality Mainstreaming Unit is based in the Equality Authority.
The Objectives of the Equality Mainstreaming Unit
The specific objective of this unit is to facilitate and support institutional change within providers of vocational education and training, labour market programmes and within small and medium enterprises by strengthening their capacity to combat discrimination, to promote equality and to accommodate diversity.
This is achieved by providing:

  • Support packages for equality mainstreaming approaches to providers of vocational education and training and labour market programmes.
  • Consultancy support to support small to medium enterprises in promoting planned and systematic approaches to workplace equality
  • Support for the development of sectoral approaches/ projects to promote workplace equality
  • The development of research and resource materials

How the Equality Mainstreaming Unit works
The Equality Mainstreaming Unit's work is organised across 4 strands of specific activity:-

  1. Support packages for programme providers (of vocational education and training and labour market programmes)
  2. Consultancy support to enterprises.
  3. Support packages for Trade Union and Employer network
  4. Research to support the knowledge base in relation to groups across the nine grounds and resource materials to support good practice in combating discrimination, promoting equality and accommodating diversity.

The Equality Mainstreaming Unit provides technical assistance to enterprises, trade union networks, employer networks and labour market programme providers to ensure that any proposals submitted to the Unit represent value for money and promote a planned and systematic approach to equality in a labour market context.

A Measure Committee oversees the work of the Equality Mainstreaming Unit. The Measure Committee is composed of representatives of the Equality Authority, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, relevant vocational education/training bodies, NGOs representing the equality grounds.
The National Framework Committee for Equal Opportunities at the Level of the Enterprise oversees projects related to supports to enterprises, to trade union and employer networks. The Framework Committee is composed of representatives of the Equality Authority, IBEC, Trade Unions, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Department of Finance, HSE Employers Agency, Local Government Management Services Board, the Equality and Diversity Network.
Implementation of the supports to enterprises will be sub-contracted to consultants on a panel of consultants with equality expertise (Small and Medium Enterprises Scheme).
The Project Selection Process

  1. Support packages for programme providers are approved by the Measure Committee assisted by a steering group of the Equality Authority and relevant vocational education/training bodies.
  2. Applications for consultancy support are approved by the National Framework Committee for Equal Opportunities at the Level of the Enterprise, assisted by a steering committee of social partners and the Equality Authority.
  3. Applications for consultancy support will be approved by the National Framework Committee for Equal Opportunities at the Level of the Enterprise, assisted by a steering committee of social partners and the Equality Authority.
  4. Research projects will be approved by the Measure Committee, established to oversee the operation of the Unit, assisted by a steering group of the Equality Authority and relevant vocational education/training bodies.

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Discrimination

Equality Act 2004: This legislation makes significant amendments to the Employment Equality Act 1998 which prohibits discrimination in a range of employment-related areas. The prohibited grounds of discrimination are gender, marital status, family status, age, race, religious belief, disability, sexual orientation and membership of the Traveller community. The Act also prohibits sexual and other harassment. The Equality Act also amends the Equal Status Act 2000 to extend the definition of sexual harassment and shift the burden of proof from the complainant to the respondent.

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Employment on the open labour market

See FAS services

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Employment in the supported / sheltered sector

The Department of Health and Children has responsibility for rehabilitative training (training that is not linked to the labour force) and sheltered work. Responsibility for the delivery of these services rests with the Health Service Executive (HSE). Rehabilitative training and sheltered work is provided largely in:

  • Accredited training centres that are run by the HSE or by service providers contracted by the HSE and
  • Designated sheltered workshops.

Rehabilitative training focuses on the development of an individual's life skills, social skills and basic work skills with the objective of enhancing the trainee's quality of life and general work capacity.
The HSE has appointed Directors of Disability Services who are responsible, among other things, for the delivery of rehabilitative training services. The Health Service Executive (HSE) has teams of guidance counsellors who offer information, advice and guidance on HSE training and sheltered work services.
Sheltered workshops
Sheltered work gives people with disabilities the opportunity to take part in daily work in a sheltered setting where they receive personal support services. Trainees may produce goods that have a commercial value. Individuals with a disability will be assessed by the Local Health Office to establish what level of rehabilitative training is appropriate.
Rates
Rehabilitation Training Allowance
Trainees in foundation training and sheltered workshops retain their social welfare payments, usually Disability Allowance, and also receive a training allowance of €31.80 a week.
Ref: Citizens information: www.citizensinformation.ie  

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Employment in the public sector

The following is extracted from:
The National Disability Authority (NDA) ‘Report on the employment of people with disabilities in the public sector 2008' 2008 Report: Compliance with Part 5 of the Disability Act
Part 5 of the Disability Act 2005 ("the Act") sets out the obligations on public service bodies with regard to the employment of people with disabilities.

There are three interlinked requirements. Firstly, public bodies must, insofar as practicable, take all reasonable measures to promote and support the employment by them of people with disabilities. Secondly, public bodies shall ensure, unless there are good reasons to the contrary for not doing so, that at least 3% of their employees are people with disabilities. Finally, on an annual basis, public bodies must report to a statutory monitoring committee in their parent Department on the number of people with disabilities in their employment and the measures they are taking to support their employment. The monitoring committees in turn submit their reports on such compliance to the Minister of their parent Department and the National Disability Authority (NDA).
The headline results for 2008 are:

  • 55% of the organisations reported achieving or exceeding the statutory 3% employment target for 2008. In 2007, 51% of public bodies reported reaching or surpassing the statutory minimum target.
  • The total number of public service employees who declared a disability for 2008 totalled 6,083, an increase of 204 over the 2007 figure. At the same time, the number of employees in the public bodies reporting under the Act fell from 239,000 to just below 229,000 between the two years.
  • For the first time since the 3% target came into being on a statutory basis (31 December 2005) all 15 Government Departments have achieved or exceeded the target. Totalling the figures for all Government Departments, 3.9% of staff reported a disability for 2008 compared to 3.8% in 2007.
  • Local authorities have 3.5% of staff with disabilities.
  • There is a strong link between positive action measures, such as a disability policy or a Code of Practice, to support employment of people with disabilities and achievement of the 3% target.

This report presents information received by the NDA in relation to 2008 from monitoring committees established under Part 5 of the Act.
Chapter 1 of this report describes how the information was collated.
Chapter 2 analyses the measures being taken to promote and support the employment of people with disabilities. (See below)
Chapter 3 gives a detailed analysis of the figures for 2008.
Chapter 4 discusses compliance with the obligations under Part 5. This report lays equal importance on the attainment of the numerical target and the presence of measures to promote and support the employment of people with disabilities.

Chapter 2: Measures to promote and support the employment of people with disabilities
Introduction
Public bodies are legally obliged to take all reasonable measures to promote and support the employment of people with disabilities - section 47(1) (a). In their reports, public bodies were asked to indicate the measures they were taking under this heading. The NDA advised public bodies on how best to complete the narrative section of their reporting form. To show they are compliant in respect of this aspect of the Act, it is essential that public bodies supply adequate information (Appendix D).
Monitoring committees were also asked to assess the measures they considered to be effective in promoting and supporting the employment of people with disabilities by those reporting to them. Most committees responded by listing all of the measures that had been forwarded to them by the public bodies under their remit. Some monitoring committees added some further suggestions of their own.
As this chapter shows, there is a clear, demonstrable link between engaging in positive actions to promote the employment of people with disabilities and achievement of the 3% target. It is also notable that some organisations which moved from below the 3% target in 2007 to above it in 2008 reported they had implemented a suite of policies on disability in 2008. In 2008 there was a significant increase in the number of bodies who targeted delivery of disability awareness training to specific groups, for example new recruits or line managers.

Support and retention
Many people will acquire a disability during the course of their working life. Many large public bodies stated their strong commitment to supporting employees with a disability and to retaining employees who have acquired a disability. These included over half the Government Departments; An Post; St James's Hospital Board and FÁS. Some public bodies have implemented specific policies to support employees with acquired disabilities in the workplace, and to support the return to work of employees on extended sick absences.
Some organisations who were well under the 3% target in 2007, but who exceeded it in 2008, stated that their policies and practices on reasonable accommodation and retention have been their most successful measures.
The most common accommodations made to support and retain employees with disabilities were:

  • flexible working hours
  • adjustment of work schedules and duties
  • stress management policies
  • confidential Employee Assistance Programmes, including designated Employee Assistance Officers
  • provision of specialist equipment

Formal Policies or Codes of Practice

 

A number of public bodies reported as a successful measure that they had formalised or implemented a disability policy, a disability action plan or a code of practice in 2008.
In 2007, both the HSE and Teagasc reported that they were in the process of developing disability policies. In 2008, they have moved to the implementation stage. Teagasc stated that having a disability policy ensured that the organisation continued to implement measures to support people with disabilities. They stated that communicating the disability policy effectively to staff resulted in the successful completion of staff returns for 2008 and data collection for Part 5, without having to depend on HR records only.
The ESB reported that their Code of Practice has been responsible for the development of a disability-friendly culture in the company at all levels.
Designated Officers
The Department of Finance has a designated Equality Unit that covers the civil service. This unit also provides the secretariat for the civil service's DLO network. Government Departments and many of the public bodies staffed by civil servants have designated DLOs who work with staff with disabilities. In local authorities, and some other bodies, staff with similar duties are known as Equality Officers (EOs). In some organisations the Access Officers play a similar role in supporting staff. The respective DLO and EO networks meet regularly to share experiences and good practice. The DLO network, which covers over 40 Government Departments and public bodies, meets regularly throughout the year and publishes an annual report.
Fáilte Ireland appointed a DLO in 2008 and reported that this allowed for an increased emphasis and refocus on their disability policy within their organisation. The Irish Blood Transfusion Service reported that the reappointment of their Access and Equality Officer was one of the most successful measures they implemented.
There is a strong link between having a designated officer to work with staff with disabilities and implementing additional successful measures. The HSE reported that their Equality Officers are developing training programmes and linking in with disability organisations to identify barriers to the employment of people with disabilities and to develop plans to eliminate these barriers.
Disability Awareness/Diversity Training
Public bodies see the value and importance of adopting a life cycle approach to providing their employees with disability awareness training and/or equality/diversity training.
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food reported that providing equality training for their interview boards during 2008, in addition to providing disability awareness training for all new staff as part of their induction process, has been very beneficial for them. The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform also provides disability awareness training as part of their induction package, in addition to ensuring that all staff receive such training.
For 2008 the HSE have incorporated disability awareness and other types of training into their management training programmes. Line managers receive training in their role in promoting equal opportunities and accommodating diversity. Ordnance Survey Ireland issues its guidelines on disability awareness to all staff via the organisation's intranet and provides information from the DLO service to new staff as part of their induction training.
In addition to providing training for their staff in disability and diversity awareness Teagasc also promotes awareness through staff newsletters.
Linking with disability organisations
A number of public bodies reported that they circulated vacancies to specific disability organisations or to disability umbrella bodies. Enterprise Ireland has forged very successful links with local disability groups and supported employment consortia that have resulted in employment or job placements for people with disabilities.
Work Experience
A number of public bodies offer work experience placements to people with disabilities through the Willing Able Mentoring Programme (WAM) run by the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD), or by linking with other disability organisations. The Departments of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Foreign Affairs, Health and Children, Justice, Equality and Law Reform and Transport all reported participating in the WAM Programme during 2008.
Some of the smaller bodies that are less likely to have regular staff vacancies to fill often provide work experience opportunities for people with disabilities. Enterprise Ireland engaged people from neighbouring St. Michael's House to work on recycling.
Since 2006, the ESB has run a highly successful Disability Traineeship programme to provide people with disabilities with paid work experience and training for 6 months in addition to CV preparation and interview skills. In 2008, 13 people participated in the programme and two of these participants have since been employed by the ESB. The programme is to be extended for a further 3 years until 2011.
For the purposes of the reporting and monitoring process under Part 5 those people on work experience/placements in a calendar year are counted and analysed separately and are not included in a public body's main staff return.

 

Access Audits
Many public bodies also reported conducting an access audit as a very positive measure. The VHI engaged an architect with a special interest in accommodating the needs of employees with disabilities to conduct an access audit for their main hiring office in Kilkenny.
Staff Census
Some public bodies commented that the exercise of undertaking a staff census brought a renewed focus and attention to disability issues at work and that it had been a catalyst to further action in this area. The Legal Aid Board reported that it included the census form in its induction packs.
For 2007, An Post decided to process all census returns through its Occupational Health Department. This resulted in a much higher response than previously attained. In 2008, the same processes was implemented with renewed success. It appears that this approach was reassuring to some employees who may have had concerns about confidentiality.
Conclusion
The evidence suggests that a systematic approach to supporting staff with disabilities brings a return in terms of higher numbers of staff with disabilities in employment.

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Employment of blind and partially sighted women.

No information.

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Self Employment

The 1987 Labour Service Act and the 1998 Employment Equality Act as amended by the 2004 Equality Act are the main pieces of legislation to support self employed disabled workers in Ireland.
An Foras Áiseanna Saothair (FÁS), the Irish Training and Employment Authority, provides assistance to self-employed disabled people within a network of over 60 regional offices and 20 training centres nationwide. It offers recruitment, out-placement and advisory service. In 2009, FÁS will spend over 77 million Euros on employment and training for people with disabilities.
FÁS may provide a grant of up to 6.348 Euros to adapt premises or equipment in the workplace. Self-employed disabled workers may reapply in order to upgrade previously funded equipment.
Visually impaired self-employed workers may apply for a Grant to hire a Personal Reader to assist them with job related reading based on a number of hours agreed with FÁS. FÁS may fund up to 640 hours per annum.

Disabled people who have been unemployed for some time are encouraged to move from social welfare to self employment through the “Back to Work Enterprise Allowance” scheme. This scheme enables them to receive a set amount of financial support for up to 4 years and to retain part of their previous social welfare secondary benefits.

FAS supports such as the Workplace Equipment Adaptation Grant (WPEAG) are also available to self-employed people with disabilities as are other FAS initiatives
FAS also runs a ‘start your own business course'

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Vocational rehabilitation and training

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation has overall responsibility for the provision of vocational training and employment services for people with disabilities. Responsibility for the delivery of these services rests with FÁS. Vocational training and employment services are provided on an integrated basis in FÁS training centres or by service providers contracted by FÁS. In addition to a job placement scheme, FÁS provides a range of employment supports specifically for people with disabilities. For example, the Wage Subsidy Scheme, workplace/equipment adaptation grants, the supported employment scheme, job interview interpreter grants and personal reader grants. FÁS also provides a scheme of grant aid to employers that provide disability awareness training for their staff.

Vocational training and Employment of People with Disabilities
Policy responsibility for the vocational training and employment of people with disabilities transferred from the Department of Health and Children to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in June 2000, as part of the Government's policy of mainstreaming services to people with disabilities. Responsibility for rehabilitative training and Sheltered Workshops remains with the Department of Health and Children.
The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment's policies in this area are being developed by Employment and Training Strategy Unit under three broad headings:

  • developing the skills of people with disabilities to enable them to access employment;
  • stimulating awareness amongst employers of the contribution which people with disabilities can make to their businesses and encouraging them to recruit more people with disabilities;
  • providing specific employment supports for people with disabilities and employers.

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Incentive measures to employ workers with disabilities.

Revenue Job Assist Scheme
Under the Revenue Job Assist Scheme, an employer can claim extra deductions in their accounts for up to 3 years from the date the employment commences, if a person who has been unemployed for 12 months or more is taken on in employment. The deductions apply to:

  • Wages paid to a qualifying employee in qualifying employment; and
  • Employers PRSI in respect of such wages.

There is no limit to the number of 'qualifying employees' an employer can take on under the scheme, provided they take up 'qualifying jobs'. The deduction is not due if either the employer or the employee has benefited or is benefiting from any other employment scheme in respect of the job.

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Legal obligation to employ workers with disabilities

Part 5 of the Disability Act 2005 ("the Act") sets out the obligations on public service bodies with regard to the employment of people with disabilities.

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Vocational Counselling.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) have teams of guidance counsellors who offer information, advice and guidance on HSE training and sheltered work services.

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Main occupations performed by workers with a visual impairment.

Occupations that involve computers or clerical type work both in the public and in the private sector represent a large proportion of occupations performed by workers with a vision impairment. These might include bank official and insurance officials, public servants including telephonists. Other occupations include workers in educational institutes and some in the retail industry and call centres.

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Looking for a job

Jobseeker Supports
There are a range of allowance schemes for jobseekers moving from Social Welfare to work, training or education.
Back to Work Allowance Scheme
The Back to Work Allowance Scheme is paid to people on certain Social Welfare payments as an incentive to take up employment or return to work. People participating in the scheme retain a percentage of their social welfare payment without having to pay tax or PRSI on it, along with their secondary benefits (subject to conditions) for a period of up to 3 years.
Back to Work (Enterprise) Allowance
The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance encourages unemployed people, lone parents and people getting Disability Allowance or Blind Person's Pension to take up self-employment. People participating in the Scheme receive 4 years financial support along with any 'secondary benefits' they already have (subject to certain conditions). This Scheme was previously known as the Area Allowance (Enterprise).
Part-time Job Incentive Scheme
The Part-time Job Incentive Scheme allows certain long-term unemployed people to take up part-time work and receive a special weekly allowance of €117.70 per week, if single, or €193.60, where there is a qualified adult, instead of their unemployment payment.
Family Income Supplement
Family Income Supplement (FIS) is a weekly tax-free payment for families, including one-parent families, at work on low pay.

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Legal recognition of disabled worker status

The Employment Equality Act, 1998 and the Equal Status Act, 2000 outlaw discrimination in employment, vocational training, advertising, collective agreements, the provision of goods and services and other opportunities to which the public generally have access on nine distinct grounds.

Disability Act 2005

The Disability Act, 2005, which became law on 8 July, 2005, imposes significant obligations on Government Departments and on Public Bodies to work proactively towards the improvement of the quality of life of people with disabilities. It also gave the Ombudsman new powers to investigate complaints about compliance by public bodies and others with Part 3 of the Act.
Part 3 of the Disability Act, 2005 deals with the following :-
Access to Public Buildings (Section 25)
Access to Services (Section 26)
Accessibility of Services Supplied to a Public Body (Section 27)
Access to Information (Section 28)
Access to Heritage Sites (Section 29)
Sectoral Plans (Section 31)
Ref: Office of the Ombudsman Ireland

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Trade unions and workers with disabilities.

(Extracts From http://www.workway.ie/useful_info/about_workway.508.html)

Managers and employees in workplaces may be members of and actively involved in trade unions. Many members with disabilities actively involve the union in resolving disputes and negotiating changes they may need to operate in workplaces. In many workplaces unions are part of established and structured employee relations systems through which all aspects of terms and conditions of employment i.e. wages, hours of work, organisation of work, leave entitlements, training and promotion, health and safety etc can be collectively (or, less frequently, individually) negotiated.
In workplaces, issues of concern are brought to the attention of the shop steward and addressed in negotiations in that workplace or, if necessary, can involve the assistance of a union official provided by the appropriate union.

The main role for the trade union representatives responding to the needs of people with disabilities in accessing or in employment are to:

  • encourage people with disabilities to apply for jobs and ensure employers have an inclusive recruitment policy, including fair interview procedures;
  • ensure that the workplace is accessible and participate in identifying solutions to adapt the workplace;
  • harness the support of all workers to assist an employee with disabilities operate in workplaces, as appropriate;
  • represent employees with disabilities in relation to wages and fair terms and conditions of employment;
  • look for equal access to training and career opportunities in employment for employees with disabilities;
  • negotiate retention strategies for people who acquire a disability at work, where possible and appropriate;
  • ensure compliance with health and safety legislation.

In some workplaces union officials and shop stewards look to negotiate a voluntary equal opportunities agreement which sets down a range of commitments by employers and a series of actions in relation to aspects of employment and the workplace to make sure people with disabilities receive appropriate treatment and to bring about equal opportunities in respect of all aspects of employment and training/promotion in workplaces.

In more difficult circumstances union officials will represent members with disabilities using the provisions of relatively new legislation (the Employment Equality Act, 1998 and the Equal Status Act, 2000 - which outlaws discrimination based on disability in workplaces and in relation to services for people with disabilities), to establish reasonable and fair treatment of (prospective) employees with disabilities.

Appropriate information and training lies at the heart of making sure that co-workers and trade unions provide an effective resource for people with disabilities looking for a job and in employment. Providing the space, time and resources to engage in a co-operative partnership within a non-discriminatory, trusting and open environment to impart information and provide (ideally joint) training for managers and employees represents an on-going significant challenge.

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Much thanks for this contribution to
Niamh Connolly
Information Officer
NCBI - working for people with sight loss
www.ncbi.ie