Report: Person with a disability more likely to leave job

Report: Person with a disability more likely to leave job
Dorothy Watson: Calls for need specific interventions to support disabled people who want to work. Picture: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

The likelihood of a person with a disability starting a new job are four times lower than a person without a disability and if they secure a position, they are more likely to leave it, new ESRI research shows, writes Claire O’Sullivan.

The odds of a disabled person leaving the workplace is reportedly twice as high than for the able-bodied.

Up to 31% of working-age people with a disability were at work, compared to 71% of those without a disability.

And a disabled person is more likely to leave a job even if their disability does not create everyday difficulties. Four out of five disabled people are working or had worked in the past.

Inclusion Ireland campaigns and policy lead, Sarah Lennon, said the move from disability allowance with its medical card, free travel and fuel allowance entitlements to a low-paid job is a challenge for many with disabilities.

“We often talk to people who are willing to take the short-term hit as they believe that they will progress in the medium term, but it is a particular disadvantage for them. We would love to see a bridging period where they retain entitlements for people with a disability.

“Also, many are very aware that if it doesn’t work out they could face a big waiting time before they can access their payment again.”

Ms Lennon said transport is often a challenge for people with disabilities in the workplace as is workplace attitudes to disabilities and access to personal assistant hours if they need them.

People with disabilities make up 13% of the population, according to Inclusion Ireland.

The ESRI also noted that retention of medical cards and greater employer flexibility around workplace hours and job tasks are highlighted as key issues by disabled people.

One of the report’s author’s Dorothy Watson said: “Efforts to ensure jobs for all of those with a disability who want to work need to proceed on two fronts: both increasing the capacity of those not at work to get jobs and ensuring that those currently at work can retain their jobs.”

“Government policy is to facilitate the employment of people with a disability who want to work — an estimated additional 36,000 people with disabilities. If all people with a disability who wanted to work had a job, half of them would be at work instead of 31% and they would constitute nearly 5% of workers. Without specific interventions, however, the percentage of people with a disability in employment is unlikely to increase,” she said.

As part of the research, the ESRI looked at the Quarterly National household survey to examine the working lives of disabled people aged 20 to 59, making comparisons with the able-bodied as the country moved from recession to early recovery.

While people without a disability were more likely to be joining the workplace and remaining in the workplace because of the economic upturn, there was little sign of recovery by 2015 for the disabled.

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