1st consultative work-group with local stakeholders
On the topic of Employment of disabled persons
Organized on 31st October 2014, in Timisoara
The participants at the event were representatives of various public institutions and NGOs from Timis country, who implement relevant activities for the field of employment of disabled persons. A total number of 13 persons attended the event (team members included).
Description of main outcomes achieved during the event:
The objective of the meeting was the evaluation of the preliminary conclusions developed by the research teams after the analysis conducted within WP 1.
The compatibilities and incompatibilities between the current European and Romanian national framework of labour market integration of people with disabilities were discussed, as resulted from the preliminary conclusions of the analysis conducted by the research team in WP 1.
The researchers shared with the participants their preliminary conclusions regarding the four main topics of the report (education, employment, housing and discrimination), searching for the feed-back of the representatives of the relevant stakeholders regarding the accuracy and actuality of the preliminary conclusions and their possible reflections in practical situations.
The following conclusions were presented:
– Regarding the common understanding of the term disability: in our country, the understanding of the term disability is strongly connected with that of handicap – by that meaning the person who has gone through an evaluation and obtain an official recognition of his (her) disability; there are, in fact, a lot of persons that have a certain disability but have not applied in order to get the certificate. At the same time, there are persons with different diseases (like AIDS or cancer) that are considered to be handicapped, even if they are not actually disabled. There is also a great confusion among the general population regarding understanding of the mental disabilities and psychiatric disease.
– The legislative measures have no real understanding of the phenomenon: often, there are cases of persons with permanent disabilities that are required to be present each year at the re-evaluation commission, even if their condition is irreversible.
– The civil society organizations that represent the interests of the disabled persons are not strong or coagulated enough in order to mean something for the government and, thus, be able to promote effectively the rights of the disabled.
– The educational and qualification programs for the disabled persons are not adapted to the needs and characteristics of the target groups: for example, the Universities have no adapted courses for the blind, the professional qualification providers have no adapted courses for the deaf and so on. So, while the public discourse is that social integration and mainstreaming of the disabled is desired and promoted, no serious steps were made by governmental institutions or public organizations to actually implement these intentions and operationalize them in day to day work and intervention mechanisms.
– The „insertion enterprise” would be an appropriate and effective model for the training and qualification of disabled persons.
– The „protected units” (assisted employment) are a viable alternative for disabled persons’ employment, as compared to their free labor market insertion.
– The affiliation of a protected unit with an insertion enterprise would be a good way to increase their separate effectiveness.
– Trap benefits: the choice of the disabled between the social benefits and a salary. In fact, the participants mentioned that there is no real problem of choice between the two mechanisms among the disabled, because those who hold a work capacity and want to work will work on the grey market (with no official work contract) so they will get both the benefits and the salary.
– Keeping the job: sometimes, the disabled give up working immediately after they were hired. So, the role of the social worker (mediator) is very important in helping them to remain hired. The mediator is also important to keep a good and functional relation between the employer and the disabled person (employee). Sometimes these professionals play the role of educators – for both categories.
– Use of legislative mechanisms: sometimes, the employers use the legislative mechanisms in their own benefit, putting the disabled in a certain disadvantage – for example, they terminate the contract of the person as soon as the period for getting the legal subsidy is finished.
– Financial incentives for employers: subsidies, free transportation (to be further investigated).
– Discrimination by the employer: the decision not to employ a person is taken by the employers based more on their comfort than on discrimination (they do not want to complicate their activity with hiring a disabled person).
– Big firms have no issue with comfort nor with discrimination: if the person manages to do the job, they keep him (her) and if not, they let him (her) go.
– The level of discrimination faced by a disabled person depend on the level of visibility of his (her) disability.
– Potential income sources for the disabled (other than salary) – social benefits: handicap subsidy and pension for invalidity.