Diversity in the workplace can be a great strategy to meet both business needs and the needs of people with disabilities. Working with people with disabilities can increase employee morale and productivity while bringing a fresh and different perspective to the business.
Most of the qualities employers seek in their workers — loyalty, graciousness, dependability, productivity, and critical thinking — can also be found in many people with disabilities. From performing routine tasks to problem solving, people with disabilities are experts in developing creative ways to attain success.
HHS has also developed a brochure for providers that highlights the benefits of providing employment services: Becoming a Provider of Employment Serivices (PDF). The HCBS settings rule, released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), is intended to ensure that by March 2023, Medicaid-funded HCBS programs provide people with disabilities the opportunity to live, work and receive services in integrated community settings where they can fully engage in community life. Providing employment services will help providers meet the requirements of the HCBS settings rule.
Learn How Hiring People with Disabilities Can be Beneficial to Your Business
Why Hire People with Disabilities?
Boost Production During Peak Hours
Many people with disabilities may seek part-time opportunities or want flexibility in the hours they work. For example, a restaurant may see high demand from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and require more workers during that period. This can be a perfect fit for people with disabilities who cannot work long hours.
Think Out of the Box to Meet Labor Needs
In some cases, jobs that require performing repetitive tasks or difficult-to-fill positions are the perfect fit for an employee with a disability and could lead to increased production. By thinking about tasks in a new way, many employers have found that employing people with disabilities can meet their needs.
Increase Your Customer Base
Customers with disabilities and their families, friends and associates represent a trillion dollar market segment that purchases products and services from companies that best meet their needs. Employing people with disabilities is an opportunity to gain a lasting customer base and increase market share.
Foster Innovation and Creativity
Many people with disabilities are highly experienced problem-solvers with a proven ability to adapt. They bring unique experiences to the workplace that can enhance services, lead to the creation of new products or contribute to more efficient business processes which in turn increase profitability.
Myths and Facts
Myth: Accommodating workers with disabilities costs too much.
Fact: In most cases, an appropriate reasonable accommodation can be made without difficulty and at little or no cost. Studies show that less than 25 percent of disabled persons require an accommodation, and an accommodation typically costs less than $500 and often nothing at all. There are also tax incentives to help cover accessibility costs.
Myth: My Workers' Compensation insurance rates will go up if I hire someone with a disability.
Fact: Insurance rates are based on your organization's accident record along with the hazards of the occupation in question. It is not based on whether you have workers with disabilities.
Myth: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses to hire unqualified people just because they have a disability.
Fact: The ADA does not protect unqualified candidates. To be protected from discrimination, candidates must first meet all requirements for a job and be able to perform the job with or without reasonable accommodations.
Myth: Employees with disabilities are often absent.
Fact: Studies show that employees with disabilities are not absent any more than employees without disabilities.
Myth: A business can never fire an employee with a disability, even just for cause.
Fact: Employers can fire workers with disabilities under one of three conditions:
- Termination is unrelated to the disability.
- The employee does not meet requirements for the job, such as performance or production standards, with or without reasonable accommodation.
- The employee poses a direct threat to health or safety in the workplace.
The U.S. Small Business Administration provides programs to help employers recruit and hire people with disabilities. As you expand and enhance your business, tax credits can help cover the cost of accommodations for employees with disabilities. You must also comply with legal requirements concerning the accommodation of employees with disabilities.
The Guide to Disability Rights Laws covers major disability laws affecting employers, governments, schools and other organizations. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires any employer with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities, unless doing so would cause undue hardship. A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment that enables a person with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. Employers are also prohibited from discriminating against employees with disabilities.
Building an Inclusive Workplace
- Best Practices for Finding Qualified Workers
- Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN)
- Employing People with Disabilities
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
- Hiring Service Disabled Veterans
- U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy
- Texas Workforce Commission - Workforce Development Boards
- What Can YOU Do?, The Campaign for Disability Employment
- Disability-related Tax Provisions
- Institute for Community Inclusion, State Data
- Small Business Administration
- Small Business Disability Inclusion Fact Sheet (PDF)
- Tax Incentives for Providing Business Accessibility (PDF)
- Tax Incentives Packet on the Americans with Disabilities Act (PDF)
- The Business Case
- United States Business Leadership Network