Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Small Businesses Still Hesitant To Hire Workers With A Disability

6 Sep 2011Reports surfaced last week on Australia's Daily Telegraph website, suggesting that some employers are still quite reluctant to hire someone with a disability, over a non-disabled person.

While I have been employed most of my working aged life, I have certainly faced my fair share of disability discrimination in the workplace.

I recall an incident that happened to me at the age of 19, when I was searching for one of my first jobs.

I had recently completed TAFE courses in Business Administration and Typing ect. so, I was well equipped to take on work in the field I was interested in; which at the time, was as a receptionist.

I eagerly sent out applications to every admin job I could find. I didn't want my disability to affect anyone's decision on whether or not they would let me advance to the interview stage, so I wouldn't disclose that I was in a wheelchair in my application letter or Resume.

One afternoon, I got a call from a truck company, where I'd applied for a job as a receptionist, the man who called advised me that I'd made it through to the next phase of the interview process.

I was so excited and started daydreaming of what it would be like to work as a receptionist, close to home, what my ‘new' boss would be like, what I would spend my first pay cheque on.

At this stage, I thought that I'd better check whether there was wheelchair access into the office. I asked the man who called me if the office had stairs, he told me that it didn't but then asked why I wanted to know, I then told him that I was in a wheelchair, the man (who I assume was the owner of the business) quickly told me that he didn't think me working there would be a good idea, thanked me for my application, and hung up.

I put the phone down and cried, I was too embarrassed and shy to do anything about it at the time, but I wish I spoke to him today, because I would've fought my way in there for my interview!

It's funny, that with every job that I have ever gone for, if the person interviewing me doesn't know that I'm in a wheelchair before I go in for my interview, they always have this shocked expression on their face when I wheel into their office, but after speaking with me for a little while, their opinion of what my capabilities are usually changes in my favour, which I love, and that's why I tend not to tell prospective employers of my disability before meeting them.

There are a lot of disability employment services available around Australia these days that assist people with disabilities to find work, with NOVA Employment being one of them. NOVA's employment consultants work as an advocate to speak out for their clients, to show employers what they can do, not, what they can't do. People are slowly coming around, but the disabled community still has a long way to go to be recognised as productive workers.

During research led by the Federal Government's Disability Employment Services Program, results showed that small businesses would still need to be persuaded to hire someone with a disability. The stigma attached to someone with a disability in the workplace, leads potential employers to believe that workplace productivity would decline if they were to hire a disabled person.

Kate Ellis, Employment Participation Minister says that ‘Employers who hire people with disability will often say that these are some of the most loyal, reliable and hardest workers they've ever had'.

‘Yet employers with little or no experience reject the idea that a person with disability could be the best person for the job'.

This just goes to show how important disability awareness really is. Government disability subsidies can become very expensive if required for severely disabled workers, whose employers are paid an amount to make up the employees full wage, but this would in most cases, still be less than what the government would pay out for an unemployed person who receives the disability pension and never works. Not to mention their own personal gains that they will experience from contributing to society.

If you know someone with a small business, next time they're looking to hire someone, suggest to them that they should hire a person with a disability.

If you'd like to read the original article from last week's Daily Telegraph, click here: http

Small Businesses Still Hesitant To Hire Workers With A Disability

Small Businesses Still Hesitant To Hire Workers With A Disability

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